Wednesday, May 21, 2008

And now a glimpse into my paranoid mind

Now that I'm part of the 20-something-bloggers group, people might actually be reading this thing for a change. Finding new blogger friends has inspired me to reveal something a little deeper about myself than my obsession for carbs and lack of follow-through.

Today I want to tell you a bit about why I'm the way I am. And by that I mean paranoid.

My mom has lived through some crazy weirdness in her lifetime. She has narrowly escaped from potential abductors, attackers, and your common harmless nut-cases. Sparing the gory details, my mom has her gut instincts to thank for coming out of her 20's unscathed.

With that said, my mom's style of parenting can be described as "fear mongering." At a very young age, she taught me and my sister the dangers of strangers, date rape drugs, and not locking your doors.

She took paranoia to a new level by not being able to go to bed without making sure the knobs on the stove were all turned to "off." Ok... there's nothing too weird about that. Except for the fact that checked them about five times before calling it a night. She would look at each knob, point to it, and (this is key) said "off" as she pointed to each one individually. "Off... Off... Off... Off." She would chant this lullaby of sorts each night during my childhood.

More important than teaching us to eat all of our vegetables, my mom spent most of her energy teaching us the proper way to use a public bathroom (DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING!) and the best method for walking to your car in a parking lot (RUN!)

Alright, I think you get the picture. Now, I bring you a short piece of non-fiction that I wrote last summer after (probably) being a little too suspicious of some young men in the park on my lunch break.

Wanting to publish this piece last summer, I showed it to a writer friend who said I needed to explain why my character was so certain two complete strangers were trying to kill her. I feel I've given you all the explanation this piece needs. Enjoy.

*Disclaimer: I apologize for any unkind references to the Brits in this piece. I admit it is an awful stereotype that Brits have bad teeth. Please forgive me! It was a literary device... or something.


Still sitting on the bench, quickly losing interest with the loudest person in a 100-yard circumference, I block out the noise and read the same book I’ve been reading for three months during my lunch breaks.

Two 20-something men quickly break my concentration with the question, “Anywhere good to eat around here? We’ve just moved to the area.”

Please. Do any men who approach a vivacious woman sporting a plunging neckline and new push up bra from Victoria’s Secret honestly just want to know where to find something good to eat?

I play along.

What are you in the mood for?

“Spicy,” says the one with the gray front tooth.

Right. Try Lulu’s Noodles. Take a left on Forbes. It’ll be halfway down the block between Forbes and Fifth Ave.

“Is it really good? Like do you go there?” the one with the backwards ball cap and nearly shoulder-length hair asks me. They both strike me as creepy. Like they should be British. Maybe it’s just the tooth.

Yes. I eat there. Good luck. Enjoy your lunch. I say as I put my nose back in my book.

They are still standing there... looking at me.

“How much is it? Is it expensive?”

I think a moment for a reasonable estimate. It’s about eight bucks for an entrĂ©e.

“That’s not bad. What are you reading?”

These men are not going to leave me alone without an awkward conversation about Chuck Klosterman.

After discussing Chuck’s talent for making a surprisingly convincing argument about why Saved By the Bell is relevant in society, and getting a quick lesson on E-prime, I am relieved to see them go.

I wait an appropriate amount of time to get up from my bench so I don’t accidentally run into them on my way back to the office. I start wondering if maybe I should give people more credit. Maybe they really did just want a good place to have lunch. Just in case, I’m not walking through that alley like I usually do today. Staying in plain sight. My mom always says to trust my gut instinct. Still, I feel bad. Those guys seemed okay.

My feet are aching from the stilettos and wishing I hadn’t opted for a long-cut. Suddenly, all of my paranoid thoughts are coming to realization when I see the guy with the gray tooth’s yellow t-shirt walking towards me through the crowd. He and his friend are walking the opposite direction from Lulu’s. These men are going to kill me. I knew it.

I walk faster. Again, cursing my choice of footwear. My heart is racing. These men are going to kill me. I quickly visualize the final block of my walk and decide if there is trouble I’ll run into the mechanic’s garage off of Craig Street. The heels of my stilettos make a sharp noise against the concrete as I try not to twist my ankle and I hurry back to my office. Each person that I pass is a private victory, and one more person that will hopefully call the police when these guys catch up to me and kidnap/murder me. I reach the lobby of my office. Waiting for the elevator to take me to the fourth floor feels like an eternity. I look around at the people outside. A yellow shirt. My heart stops beating entirely. It’s a woman. The elevator is here. I’m alive.


Heather said...

I grew up in the sticks and when I moved to a city, I became majorly paranoid that everyone was out to get me. I still have to remind myself that people walking down the street aren't all out to get me.

Anonymous said...

The oven thing sounds more OCD than paranoid to me (and as a crazy-making psychiatrist once correct me: paranoia is simply thinking everyone is out to get you), but you know, better to be over alert than not at all. I think when I have kids, I will just have them learn the same way I did: television and movies. Like after watching Captivity, I will never drink a drink from a bar without watching it being made!

Anonymous said...

Okay, I seriously love this! It so much reminds me of my own mother (she goes through the house and checks the locks about 3 times before she can sleep restfully) and even myself with your story with Ol' Gray and friend.

Okay, you know those annual garbage pick up days? Where people leave all their junk in front of their house and the City comes and picks it up? Well, in my ghettoville Fresno, Mexicans in big vans like to scope out the goods before it's hauled away... well, I can remember taking a walk down my street when I was about 15, and having a big white van pull up next to me... a creepy guy was hanging out the window and staring. Naturally, I took off running, convinced they would slide open their door and pull me in at any second.
When I got to the end of the street and looked back, they were loading up an old ratty couch that I had been standing next to. Paranoid, much? I'd say too many Lifetime movies.

Anonymous said...

I just found you through 20SB. Nice blog :)