So, there’s plenty of room on the Internet for pet grief, and it certainly has its place, but knowing that was the last thing I wrote about just makes me feel worse, so to create some space between the day-to-day and the ever-looming promise of the death of everyone you know and love, yourself included, here’s a small and random anecdote to lighten the mood, but first some background:
I am at the high end of my mid-20s. (I know, cry about it, right?) The food and beer scene and Cleveland has helped me fill out my jeans more than I would have ever liked to, and I am losing track of the grey hair I hoped to kill off by pulling it out. I have been through three drivers licenses since my last purchase of a properly fitting bra. I ran out of contact lenses so I have to wear sunglasses over my glasses. I have no one to blame but myself, but I have looked cuter.
Still, though, living in the city and occasionally enjoying to use the two stubby legs I was given to get from one place to the other, I am sometimes on the receiving end of some salacious and uninvited attention from some weirdo or another who happens to have the eyeballs to notice someone female-looking who probably isn’t anyone’s grandma walking near them and the wherewithal to say something significant about it.
Outwardly, I display all the discomfort bestowed upon one as unarmed and socially awkward as I typically find myself. I’m not street smart or snarky or clever in my retorts unless given at least 15 minutes to mull over any situation and preferably also a keyboard. So if you’re going to holler at me from a car, expect my response to be a wide-eyed expression directed at the sidewalk a few feet in front of me and a tightening of my fingers around my purse straps. I was once chased to a full sprint by an angry pit bull and didn’t scream until I determined it was absolutely my last hope because the embarrassment of overreacting loomed larger than the very real threat of death in my mind, even in that instance.
Guys who yell at women on the street are obviously doing it to elicit this adorable reaction, or any reaction, and have the interesting combination of balls and cowardice to behave this way. It really is an insane and I’m sure 99.95% unsuccessful tactic. Which is why I found it really interesting that, on my way to an errand during a lunchtime walk, I crossed paths with a guy who was obviously untrained in the vocation of hollering and who really needed practice. I was only too amused to be the subject of the very most ineffectual of this ineffectual pick-up technique.
Let me set the stage, and if this is TMI, go hug your dog about it while you still can. (Gallows humor, yes.)
So I couldn’t quite remember if I had put on deodorant that morning after waking up early, working out and showering, so I decided to walk to CVS for an early lunch to purchase a spare stick of antiperspirant to save me from this and future instances of forgetfulness. Because I am nothing if not a professional.
I had just crossed the street and begun to venture down Rockwell toward the drug store. I noticed without really noticing a few people crossing in the other direction, until both feet hit the curb on the other side of the street. A guy in saggy pajama pants and I missed making direct eye contact with each other, but immediately after he saw me he stared off into the distance, shrugged as if to preemptively apologize, and in one nervous and unconvincing breath said, “Didithurtwhenyoufellfromheaven?”
Now, for those of you who have at some point in your life fit into smaller jeans than you do now, you know the point of this line is to get you to say, “What?” after “Did it hurt,” so some creep can engage you in conversation. But no, not this time. It was like a verbal fart. Something that he apologetically had to let out and that he fully anticipated would be met with a “What’s that smell?” face. Which was my exact reaction.
But a few steps later I had to ruefully laugh at this awkward attempt and almost feel grateful. Because when you’ve put on a few pounds and started to come to terms with your own inevitable descent from your 17-year-old perfect self, a few choice words from an awkward dirtbag are just the ticket for helping to distract from your own mortality. Still, though, he could have been a little more sincere in his delivery.
Now, a full two weeks later, I have crafted an appropriate response that I will use as soon as a reliable time machine is invented:
“Nice pajama pants.”