I Am a Freak Magnet
I like to think that I am a generally friendly and approachable person. In fact, I often engage in conversations with strangers, and have said this phrase “I just met the nicest woman in there…” after leaving the ladies room when I am out. Sometimes I will start the conversation and sometimes a stranger will start the conversation. But when I am participating in the conversation I am careful not to divulge anything too personal or say anything too controversial that will make the person look at me and think “Why do these freaks keep coming up to me?” However, most strangers I strike up a conversation with are not so careful.
There have been times when I could swear that the words “Confide in me” were scrawled on my forehead with a Sharpie when I wasn’t paying attention. I’ve heard more about the health conditions of strangers and about what they did in that bathroom stall than I care to remember.
Years ago I worked for a big company, and sitting at my desk one day. My co-worker sat on the other side of the cubicle wall from me. I was friendly with this co-worker, but because she worked on different projects than I did, she often worked with people that I didn’t know that well. One day this co-worker, Megan, was on the phone. A woman that Megan was working with on a project, Joanne, walked up to Megan’s desk and saw that Megan was on the phone. Joanne walked around to my side of the wall, and sat down in my guest chair to wait while Megan was on the phone. You know, because my desk was often confused for a waiting room. Just as I was about to offer Joanne an old copy of People or Reader’s Digest for her to read while she waited for Megan she began to tell me that she’d recently gone off her meds. I looked up from my worked and flashed her a tight smile—kind of like a grimace if you looked at it from one angle, but an actual smile if you saw it from another—then I focused my attention back on my work. She repeated the bit about her meds again, and I smiled/grimaced (smimaced?) at her again without asking her “What meds were you taking, Joanne?” which was obviously what she was fishing for. Luckily we heard Megan hang up her phone, and Joanne took off to talk to her. Joanne never mentioned her meds to me again, and you know that I never did ask what she was on. (I have my suspicions, but I won’t get into that here.)
At other times I could swear that someone else has written “Say something wildly inappropriate, racist or ignorant to me” with a Sharpie on my forehead when I wasn’t looking. (Really, I should pay better attention and keep my eyes peeled for this Sharpie wielding vandal.) Not long ago I went to my doctor’s office to get a physical. It’s been several years since I’ve had my cholesterol checked and stuff like that. I grabbed the first available appointment, 7:30, and arrived at the doctor’s office at 7:25. The door to the doctor’s office was still locked, so I sat in the chair and waited. A man hobbled up with a cane, and I immediately stood up to give him the chair. At that point the man with the cane opened season on me, and didn’t accept my open book in my hands as a hint that I’d rather read. He talked to me about his injuries, how they affect his life, and blah blah blah.
The doctor’s office opened and we sat down in the waiting room, I sat as far away as I could from Cane Man. He went on to tell me about how lucky I am that women don’t need a prostrate exam, and I reminded him that women go through other equally invasive examinations. Then he went on to say, and I wish I was kidding:
“Well, at least a gay man would enjoy the prostrate exam. They probably look forward to it,” then he put on a lisp, for my benefit, “Oh, I am getting a prostrate exam! YAAAY!!!”
I smimaced at the guy, and looked down at my book. Then I decided I’ve give something back to the freaks who feel the need to say stuff like this to me. I looked up at the guy and said, “I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I mean, assuming the anatomy of a gay man and a straight man is identical, and the exam is conducted the same way every time, why would only a gay man enjoy it?”
Cane Man smimaced at me, and silently focused his attention onto his newspaper.
Beej 1. Freaks 0.
added on 11.13.17