The inadvertant stalker

Nothing makes me as keenly aware of being a man as being behind a woman. It’s a weird place to be being behind a woman. I don’t mean in line or in general, I mean happening to end up a few steps behind a woman I don’t know on a street when there isn’t anyone else around. It’s especially unnerving when it’s dark and the lighting is bad.

Stop following me!

So there you are, headed the same direction as this woman, it’s dark and for whatever reason there you are, plodding along a couple of steps behind her. She is never not uncomfortable with this arrangement. You are going to get either the bunched up shoulders or the over-the-shoulder glances or both. It’s a pretty awful feeling knowing you are freaking someone the hell out but who can blame her? It’s a rough world filled with shitty men. Realistically your options are pretty limited in these situations. There typically isn’t a lot either one of you can do other than ride it out.

  • Sometimes, if it is practical, I’ll cross the street. That does the trick, but it is kind of silly to do if your destination is on the side that you’re already on.
  • Sometimes, if she’s moving slow and there is plenty of room, I’ll speed up and pass her. Granted, she probably suffers heightened discomfort by my new velocity, but once I am past, I can go even faster and we can both stop worrying about it. Like ripping off a band-aid.
  • If she’s truckin’ I can slow down and jingle my keys or whistle a tune or something so she can tell she’s outpacing me.
  • A couple of times I have thought about just saying, “hey, I am not going to rape and kill you, we’re just headed the same way.” But that might make things even weirder and more uncomfortable.

Last night I headed over to Safeway to buy cat food, milk and bread. It was pretty late, so the store was almost totally empty but I ended up walking in right behind this girl. She had a pretty short, tight dress on and fishnets and boots. He hair was curled and she looked pretty done up. She was probably no stranger to dealing with guys and their unwanted attentions. Just a guess, obviously.

At first she goes off to the right, which is good, because I am going left. Then she cuts across behind the left-over Halloween candy display and ends up in front of me again, only now she’s like five feet away. She makes as if to go up the chips isle and I veer to go around her but then she stops and resumes her original trajectory so that now I am two feet away.

Of course, she turns up the cat food isle.

She stops at wet food. Obviously, she loves her cat more than I do because I blow past her like a race car driver taking the inside lane on my way to the purgatory-of-dry-food-for-cheap-people-who-don’t-appreciate-their-pets.

I feel better because I am no longer crawling up this poor chick’s back and start looking for the giant bag of weight control food for ancient, fat-asses. My cat is seriously about the size of the the entire Chicago Bears defensive line duct-taped together. Maybe slightly larger.

Be reasonable madam, I mean you no harm.

But then I can’t find it. She walks past me toward the back of the store as I finally settle on a smaller bag of Iams for fat-asses and head off to get milk.

Who is also getting milk? Same girl. Now I just feel really awkward. At this point I think about cracking a joke and informing her that I’m not following her but think better of it. I grab my 2% quickly, hoping I can regain the lead but am too late, she’s already off.

To the baked goods section… Of course.

Screw it! I’ll just get bread on Monday. Kai can have hot lunch. I head for the checkout hoping that she doesn’t have the ability to teleport.

It’s late, so there is only one lane open. She ends up in line behind me. She has grabbed a loaf of the exact same potato bread I buy. I now feel double glad that I didn’t decide to buy bread. The poor woman probably would have been forced to mace me.

I pay and flee.

Where am I going with all this? I have no idea.

Maybe: sometimes they are more afraid of you than you are of them.

And then sometimes they really are stalking you.

So I guess our dance of paranoia continues.

2 Responses to The inadvertant stalker

  1. She was totally stalking you.

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