The Wrong Kind of Attention

A group of us went to lunch this past week and I was reminded again that there’s some special quality I possess that draws all the wrong attention. I’ve never been able to quite put my finger on it because I’m not someone who stands out in a crowd. As a would be suitor once said “yer no Miss America, but I sure think yer purty.” So, maybe I’m a hit with the redneck set, but outside of those overall wearing, barefoot, no tooth havin’ souls I don’t turn heads one way or the other; I’m non-descript at best. So, there we are at lunch and everyone is telling off-colored stories, I had nothing on Jim or April but regardless the noise is pretty well kept to the table when an older gentleman turned around from his spot at the counter and glared specifically at me. I thought to myself, “Surely, he’s not staring at me.” Then sometime later the gentleman gets up to leave and pointedly stares at me on his way out. My friend Jim who was sitting next to me says, “Beth, that man was staring at you.” At least I wasn’t hallucinating.

See, I’m the gal that gets a potato placed at their table while some middle aged woman trying to cling to being twenty, the age we were when it happened, addresses the table while looking directly at me something like, “I hope you can put this to use.” What does that mean?

I’m the gal who picks up a poster outside a club and gets followed by the crazy man. When confronted and asked “sir, do you have a problem?” He nodded. “Do you have a problem with her?” The guy continued staring at me and nodded. “What’s your problem?” The guy only stared at me and continued following me. It took my friend Leonard finally turning around and shoving the guy back several feet to get him to leave me alone. Mind you, Ernie had bolted down the road at that point, but that’s another story.

In the past, I’ve been followed by store security when I was looking at dolls at a shop at the Big D Flea Market. See, I had my paltry allowance and I was always careful about my purchases. I made sure that I really wanted something before buying because I knew once that money left my hand that was it. So, I was in this shop with these dolls I loved and sat on the floor going through each one trying to decide which one was the best. Finally, I just got up and left just in case there was something out there I wanted more. I looked back and the storeowner had contacted the Flea Market security and he followed me throughout the place until I finally found my mother. I’m sure he died fully convinced that I’d ditched the doll in another stall.

Ernie once teased me because I had told him “don’t leave me, I have a freak magnet,” but it’s true. If I’m alone for more than a couple of minutes some bizarre person is going to come bother me; it’s why I don’t like going places by myself.

In college people would catch me cramming for a test before class to ask important questions like “have you ever been to a Star Trek convention?” Who are you?? At the local geek shop, I’m the girl the colostomy bag toting geek tries to impress with his imaginary feats of bravery. DUDE, it’s in your head, it ain’t you. SHOO. At the same shop a year later I get, “I write for (insert name of magazine you’ve NEVER heard of) and I want to interview you.” Mmmm hmmm, of course you do. “Do you like comics?” “No.” “Then why are you buying that catalog?” “It has pretty pictures and lots of cute animals.” The guy closed his note pad and ran away.

Honestly, I hate being me.

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