Saturday, April 23, 2005

I met a man in the market today who told me all about his trip hitchhiking across the country in the sixties. It sounded a little like he was making up the story as he went along, but since he seemed pretty convinced, I wasn't going to argue. His eyes stayed unfocused above my right ear the whole time.

A little bit later, I shared my cookie with a boy named Alfred. He was six and visiting Seattle with his mom and dad and aunt and uncle. He was bored, but he thought that my cookie (oatmeal raisin from Three Girls Bakery) was pretty good. He asked if I could do a magic trick, and wandered away when I said that I couldn't.

Down at the waterfront, an elderly lady stopped to comment on my bright coral shirt. I made a small joke, my usual 'you can see me from outerspace' line, but evidently bright colors are no joking matter. She warned me at least twice to enjoy wearing them now because soon enough I'll be too old for them. I'm pretty sure she thought I was approximately fifteen.

Another man on the bus ride home asked what I was thinking about. I just smiled at him, and he sighed and said, "Ah, must be a young man. When a girl smiles like that, there's always a young man on her brain." I'm sure I blushed--I'm always blushing, and I'm not certain how to stop--and told him that I'd been reflecting on how I've noticed recently that exceptionally self-confident men have a way of looking at you as though you're a new species that they've just discovered. It is, I explained, disconcerting. "Do you want them to stop?" he asked me. "Well, no, but I do want to have some way of reacting that doesn't involve blushing, stammering, looking away, or fumbling with my hands." He leaned forward and looked me right in the eye. "That," he said firmly, "is exactly the reaction that they are going for." He chuckled dryly, and I noticed that he smelled a little of liquor. "You listen to me, young lady. I know. I was once a chaser of girls myself."

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