Monday, January 31, 2011

Steve's Peeves: Stranger in a strange land

I came home today exhausted, like I usually am on Mondays. My body and 4 am do not get along.

Like the 80-year-old man I am, I napped ... for about two hours. And man, my subconscious was in overdrive. Vivid dreams pulsated in my sleepy projector brain. I dreamed about dreaming about losing my teeth. And I was losing my teeth to some sort of Smoke Monster-esque evil force that caused my teeth to jar loose. It only had power over me if I allowed it by ending my dream's dream. So when I decided to ignore the evil force, my teeth came back.

To summarize, my dream self dreamed about losing teeth to an evil, shadowy force. The dream self inside my dream self knew I had to get up from this dream within a dream where my teeth were becoming loose.

Yeah, intense.

Also, I dreamed about stuffed reindeer that walked upright and I could not tell between two identical ones -- one an enemy and one a friend.

I unfurl this belabored lede in a roundabout manner to explain my brain's proclivity for overreaction this afternoon. My old enemy had reared its fangs once again. This enemy has haunted me since I first came onto this earth.


More specifically, strangers.

Below I will list some strange encounters I've had with strange strangers who have weirded me out strangely.

First, back in December before my trip back to Rhode Island, I exited a pet store with a Christmas present for Jelly. A black van stopped by me in a darkened parking lot. A guy came out of the passenger side door and offered me an entertainment system.

Naturally skeptical of this stranger in a black van offering me goodies, I declined. He persisted. I persisted in my rejection. So I walked on to my car and the van followed me.

"C'mon, man. It's right in the back. Great set. I'm just trying to be nice."

"Thanks," I said firmly and politely. "But I'm good."

"It's right in the back."

"No thanks." This time with force. Perhaps it was the inflection of my authoritative voice or my intimidating physique, but the black van drove off at last, most likely to find another victim to cut into tiny pieces and eat for breakfast.

Second incident. Just last week I was walking along a busy street on a beautiful, absolutely perfect Florida afternoon. Suddenly, another car slowed down to my left and a man with spikey hair, probably late 20s, leaned out the window and hooted and hollered like a construction worker watching Jessica Alba stroll by. He wasn't alone. Whoever else accompanied him in that car also whistled. I think the guy even puckered his lips. It happened pretty fast. The car drove on, unable to stop in heavy traffic.
At least when a woman is objectified in such a manner, she can think to herself, "The opposite sex finds me so attractive they can't contain their urges." I can only credit myself for a.) inspiring a car-full of mischievous heterosexual hoodlums into a joke or b.) inspiring a car-full of roving homosexual hoodlums into cat-calls.

Either scenario is not uplifting.

The third incident. I'm driving in Boca Raton and I stop at a red light. A car full of youths ask me where Wakefield plaza is. Plazas are a dime-a-dozen in South Florida. So I told them I had no idea. They weren't done.

"Hey, man. You do drugs?"

"Uh, no."

"You want any?"

I just told you I don't do drugs, idiot. "No thanks." I then stare straight ahead like a mannequin, the red light refusing to change colors.

"I've got a whole bunch of shit here." He then listed a bunch of drugs I'd never heard before. Mind you, this took place in broad daylight. I continued to stare straight ahead. A passer-by on a bike distracted them long enough until the light turned green and I turned into Paul Walker from "Fast & Furious: Part IV: Speed Kills."

The last, and most minor incident also occurred in Boca. I was going to the most fancy movie theater I've been to in years to see "The Kings' Speech." This theater had valet parking. It also had a cheap matinee ticket. So as I'm walking up to the outdoor booth to purchase my admittance, a portly teenager in glasses stared me down the whole way. I grew suspicious of him just feet away from my car.

He kept staring at I kept walking toward him. I walked past him and he turned and gave me a dumb-ass glare, like I was only dressed in orange underwear. On that day, I wasn't. I happened to be wearing my Jim James band t-shirt. Perhaps he was so astounded to see someone in that shirt he couldn't speak.

I waited in line and he continued to stare. I summoned all my powers pretending to ignore him from that point on. Once I had my ticket, I speed-walked into the theater. Watching previews of that horrible looking Matthew Perry show sure beat this weird kid.

I ask, "What in the name of Rachel Maddow is going on with people?"

When you sit back and wonder at the origins of my stranger-phobia, don't forget these stories.


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