Monday, April 27, 2009


Last night I went to the gym and--since I'd sucked down 32 ounces of artificially-flavored energy drinks--I made a pit stop in the Ladies' room before making the epic quarter-mile trip back to my house. I was taking care of my business, earbuds firmly in place so I wouldn't have to listen to the labored breathing of the woman on the other side of the wall as she worked through a particularly difficult transaction, when I saw someone pacing outside my stall door. Tapping my own feet to the Modern Lovers, I watched as the same pair of sneakers made several round trips across the well-worn tile. Assuming this was some kind of emergency, I quickly wrapped up, flushed, and stepped out of the stall, almost smacking directly into the shoulder of the pacer, a woman I knew well enough to wave to but not enough to make reference to her potentially exploding colon.

"Hey!" she said, with a genuine enthusiasm that echoed in the empty showers. "I was waiting for you."

There are few phrases that reach Creepiness as quickly as that one, especially when this woman would be filed under Casual Acquaintance on my life's contact list. In fact, the only reason I even recall her name is because she shares a set of letters with the brand of dishwashing liquid that lives on my sink, so when I see her I always think "Cuts Through Grease".

"What's up," I asked, edging my way toward a section of the locker room with better lighting. She took a seat on a wooden bench and immediately dropped several paragraphs detailing the difficulties in her relationship. She'd hoped to talk to me, she said, about her issues with her boyfriend. If she knew me at all, she'd realize that this is only slightly less stupid than asking a ground squirrel about space travel.

I shifted my weight from foot to foot and traced the grout with my toe, trying to defer, but she obviously wanted to talk. So she did, outlining all of her problems--and she had them--and none of them were the kind who could be solved by a girl whose most enduring relationship is with something that requires monthly heartworm treatment.

The thing is, this happens all the squirm-inducing time. People spill their brains to me--unprompted--often divulging info that not only did I not ask for, but always leaves me unsettled with its intimacy. Maybe it's my prominent ears, but this weekend alone I was cornered by a woman who detailed her skiing-related groin injury in all its vajay-perforating detail and stopped in the checkout line by a man who thought I'd like to know how difficult it is for him to digest sweet potatoes. My former neighbor used to keep me updated on the itchy archipelago of scabs that inexplicably appeared on his torso, which pretty much ensured that I spent the year that we shared an address keeping him away from my upholstery.

Does this happen to anyone else? Please say yes.

I did my best to listen to the Grease Cutter, nodding as sympathetically as I could while suggesting that she speak to someone whose Love Life consisted of more than licking a hole through TV Guide articles about the cast of Bones. She wiped her eyes with the frayed wristband of her sweatshirt and we walked out together, catching a glimpse of the left stall where a pair of unmoving Asics were still visible beneath the door.

Did I ever tell you about the time I thought about checking a stranger's pulse?


Anonymous said...

lol. Tell me about it! I know this one woman and EVERY time I interact with her she's talking about how ridiculously she is dressed or the troubles with her boyfriend, the odd music she listens to or her obsession with old rock stars... and this last time: she was talking about PEEING IN PUBLIC!

She's a riot, a little peculiar, but overall I think she is harmless.

You'd love her. :)

lacochran said...

"Does this happen to anyone else? Please say yes."

Yes. All the freaking time. And that cornered chihuahua look in my eyes has no affect whatsoever.


emmysuh said...

ME TOO! People on the elevators especially! Like, us being crammed in a four by six space means you should tell me about your bad day at work or your horrible horrible douchebag boyfriend or the paper that's due BLAH BLAH BLAH. I don't care. Elevator rides are awkward enough AS IT IS. I have my earphones in and the volume is loud enough to potentially cause a quake along the New Madrid fault line, I do NOT want to talk to you.

I must have "too socially polite to tell you to shut the fuck up" tattoed on my forehead in Chump Ink.

b said...

no. I think it's because I come across as bitchy/cold/aloof. I prefer 'reserved'. This might seem like a good thing, given your situation, but I also think it's the major reason I never get hit on (and no, I'm not ugly).

Phil said...

I just get strangers asking me for directions, and not just where I live in New York. I've been asked for directions in other cities where I'm a tourist. I must look approachable. Maybe I should scowl more.

Nate said...

OH MY GOD YES. Let me know if you figure out what to do about it.

Sweetly Single said...

ummm YES! There is a grocer guy who out of the blue started talking to me about everything... and I do mean everything without even knowing my first name

It's the compassion that shows in your least that is what I have been told

Anonymous said...

Dude! I used to have that problem with the security guards in my dorm my sophomore year of college. They *always* wanted to talk for the better part of an hour, while I watched enviously as dozens of other people came and went unimpeded. The best part was there was only one door in or out of the building.

Jen said...

Just realised that this only ever happens to me over the phone when I'm interviewing people I've never met for an article. I must sound much more sympathetic than I look.

I also get the joy of listening to my own entirely inadequate responses while transcribing the interviews. I may as well just say 'Bummer' next time someone cries and tells me about their miscarriage/cancer - it wouldn't be too much of a step down from current responses.

zlionsfan said...

I get the same thing as Phil: strangers asking "do you know how to get to so-and-so?"

I figure it's from trying to look like I know where I'm going so that I'm on the "Probably from out of town" list rather than the "Definitely from out of town, let's see if he can make a few withdrawals for us" list.

Hey, if people are stalking you in the restroom, at least it's only to talk ... not that it makes it any less creepy.

Mike said...

Do a Google search on 'dermoid'. Read the first 10 sites. Don't forget the pictures.

SJB said...

Why do people do this, drunk girls in the bathroom love me even though I tell them early on I will NOT hold their hair back. I quit smoking because the last cigarette break I took involved a fellow smoker telling me how he goes to church because of "hard drugs" problem. He didn't even need a light.

Geoff said...

Never to me, but it happens to my girlfriend all the time. Randoms are perpetually deciding she's the one they should talk to. It doesn't matter if she's alone or we're together, it becomes conversation time for them.

FunnyGal KAT said...

This was an asset for me when I was a reporter because I always got more interesting information for articles as the person talked my ear off. But now it's just annoying.

I can't believe she tracked you down in the bathroom. Hopefully, you memorized her shoes and the next time you see them pacing outside your stall, start moaning and saying, "Oh my God, does this hurt! Ohhhh. I should not have eaten corn last night. Ow, ow, ow!" That should take care of her.

IRJessica said...

I like B am "reserved"... hehe. So what is a sweetie pie like you to do? You just gotta get a best friend that is real sassy. No one confides in a sassy girl, once she gets bored during the first sentence. I usually start shaking my head, but not in commiseration with the story, but in disapproval of the over-share. People pick up on that real fast. : ) You just need a friend to drive away the 'friendlies'- I do this for my hubby. He won't go to a mall w/o me! Hahahaha.

Michael said...

Luscious and letter perfect, as usual.

So many times, the phrase "And I needed to know this because...?" has formed in my brain.

AlexMac said...


It's sadly something you will never be rid of. I get it from my mom and trust me, it sticks to you forever. Sometimes it's fun, sometimes it's just really fuckin' creepy (and occasionally smelly).

It's not just casual acquaintances. Strangers LOVE my mother and myself. I actually watched a woman stare at my mom for a moment, then get up from her seat on the train and came over to sit next to us.

Apparently we have really approachable faces. We're also really good a listening, but still!

Alafolie said...

I was in Penneys the other day (big Irish store, kinda like a Target) and I was in the queue for customer service, and the guy ahead of me turns around, grinning inanely, like we were besties or something, and goes

"God, they should really turn this place into a nightclub, shouldn't they?" Cue big laugh.

So I stared at him, and I just couldn't bring myself to humour him and go "heh... yeah." I genuinely hadn't a fucking clue what he was on about. So I looked him in the eye and said


"Haha, there's so many women around, it's crazy!"

I kept staring at him for a moment.

"You know you're in the women's section?"


Crazy weirdos.

Grace said...

I'm a weird-shit magnet, particularly at my office. People love to tell me about their illegitimate children and sex offender exes, but since I like having a job, I just have to keep sucking coffe and "mm-hmming" them. And silently, thoroughly judging them.

X-Country2 said...

Thankfully it doesn't happen all that often. Although I probably have a rep for being bitchy and anti-social, but whatev. We all have our role in life.

Megan said...

God, I wish it happened to me. I love those stories. I make friends with people going through divorces just in hopes of hearing the stories. said...

Before they get into the juicy details say "I'm probably not the one you want to tell this to- it's really just not my thing."
I find it less rude than "Shut the fuck up because I DON'T CARE"
Seems to get over a little better.

Jules said...

No. I give Mean Girl Shut the Fuck Up look. But it happens to Hubby ALL the time. You must be one of the nice people.

Jess said...

Maybe you should tell her to start blogging.

LovinSeattle said...

People talk to me too, I can handle that. It's the complete and utter random hugging that freaks me out. I am a recruiter and will have spoken on the phone to someone a grand total of one time, I meet them in person and roughly a quarter of them hug me. HUG ME. I do not need to touch you (nor do you need to touch me) with anything other than my hand the first time I meet you. For that matter, in a business relationship no matter HOW many times I meet you.

boycrazygrl747 said...

i hope your "friend" is named Palmolive.

KT said...


Abecedarius Rex said...

Hey, did I ever tell you about when they had to remove my entire colon while out in the jungle with no anesthetic. Brutal.

No, really, at such moments is it against the rules to play
a. retarded
b. foreign
c. crazy
d. dead or approaching event horizon with your maker?

Will the police of the empyrean really descend swiftly on me if I just say, "gee that sounds truly, fetchingly interesting but right now I really don't want to talk to any freaks because I have to go and kill zombies with a chopstick so, goodbye and goodluck"?