Thursday, August 26, 2004

drugstore cowboy

i have been pondering the whole random-male-approaching-me thing. i think i may have mentioned that i'm not generally rude or mean to people who just start talking to me on the street, or who ask directions or whatever. i do consider myself a misanthropist (which means i hate humanity, not just men), but i am actually a fairly charming and polite one. it all depends on the approach.

a coworker who read my recent rants re objectifying scum who see me as meat with legs posed the question, what do i consider an "appropriate" approach? well, duh. approach me like you see a person, not an object. i can often feel the leering vibe beneath an innocent remark -- "do you know what time it is?" or "when does the museum open?" or whatever. but in such cases, adhering to the "honey, how the hell do you know what i'm thinkin'?" rule, i'm not gonna be rude.

example. last sunday, i went to the neighborhood drugstore to pick up some stuff. it's a busy place pretty much any time you go there, and sunday was no exception. there were only two lines open, and i just attached myself to the end of the one closest to the aisle from which i had emerged. i was standing there with my basket, eavesdropping on the conversation among three guys in front of me, who weren't together but had just started chatting. my prejudiced little mind had them pegged as dumb jocks and good ol' boys, as i listened to them talking about john kerry. at first i thought they were bashing him, and they seemed none too complimentary about the man, but then one of them said, "at least he went. and he volunteered. he wasn't even drafted or anything." obviously referring to his vietnam service. soon the consensus was out: they all had some reservations about kerry, but to a man they hated bush. hmmmm, i thought. interesting.

all this time i had been kinda zoning out, staring at the back of the guy in front of me. mainly, i was marveling that he really, actually, truly had no neck. he was a beefy fellow, not much taller than me, wearing baggy shorts and a ripped-up t-shirt as a tank top, and the pink expanse of skin between his exposed upper back and his shaved head was uninterrupted by any sort of stem-like head support at all.

the line seemed not to be moving at all. suddenly, mr. no neck turned around and looked at me through his trendy sporty shades. oh, please don't talk to me, i silently prayed. no such luck. "we're almost there," he said with a friendly smile. i sighed and replied, "i always pick the wrong line." he said, "well, there's another line. you had two choices." i said, "yeah, i had a 50-50 chance, and i still lost." we both laughed. he had a couple boxes of cereal tucked under his arm, and a beverage of some sort -- i think it was a large can of budweiser, but that might've been the guy in front of him -- in the other. he said, "i'm ralph, by the way," and shifted his beverage to his already overloaded other arm, wiped his hand on his shorts, and offered it to me. i did the only civilized thing: shook his mitt and introduced myself in turn. we then had a pleasant and totally frivolous conversation about how this drugstore is always crowded and the lines are always slow, and that we were in fact actually lucky that the line wasn't worse. he mentioned he lived across the street and asked if i lived around there. i said, "yes, i live nearby." one of the other guys got into the conversation, and soon enough they were checking out, and off went ralph with his cereal and beer.

after i paid for my own things and walked out into the late-afternoon sun, i confess i slightly fretted that ralph would be outside waiting for me. (i know -- honestly, i am soooo egotistical.) but he was long gone. i really can't say whether ralph had been ogling me from behind those mirrored shades or not, but i will choose to think not. and even if he was, at least he had the good manners and good sense not to objectify me to my face.

so here's to you, ralph old buddy. you shattered my expectations and turned a boring wait in line into an unexpectedly positive encounter with a fellow human being. you'll never know what a tall order that can be, but you were more than up to the task. thanks.

in other news...

i recently got a complaint b/c i don't allow comments on this blog. that was surprising, b/c i didn't even think anyone was reading this blog, except maybe my sisters. i didn't think that i could have comments w/o getting someone else to host them, or something, and it's all very confusing and seemingly complicated, but this lovely complainant informed me that all i have to do is "turn the comments on." wow. i'm not sure how to do that, but i'm gonna check into it. but ... will it be more depressing than imagining no one's reading this blog, to have comments capability and never get any? then it will be proof that i don't matter. wah. i'm getting depressed already.


Big PoZer said...

Woo-hoo! I can comment now. Most excellent.

And, thank goodness for guys like Ralph... and anyone who shatters our misanthropic expectations of human ignorance.

CassyLee said...

Yay! for reply-age-ability. And also yay! for Ralph being a pleasant & innocuous surprise.