First of all, let me just say: I blame Kat for what has happened. The kind-hearted Kat was in New Orleans recently where she saw a small glass egg that's meant to bring luck and good fortune when kept in your left pocket, and she sent it to me, because she thought I needed some of both.
I went for a longish, leisurely, 11k walk yesterday (blister count: 7) (foot blisters, not sunburn). My good luck egg was nestled in my left pocket, but I wasn't going to put undue faith in it. In an effort not to get lost or fall down any rabbit holes, I usually walk in really big squares. Don't laugh. It's better than bread crumbs, and I've always come back, haven't I?
So this is what I did yesterday, and I chose Yonge as the far side of my square. I had my earphones in of course, as this is how I protect myself from unwanted advances. When men start hollering, as they do, I either don't hear them, or I pretend not to hear them. I feel bad occasionally, since I'm sure every once in a while some poor schmuck is only asking for directions (but hello! I'm a square-walker! the LAST person on earth you should ask for directions), but on the whole this technique has worked well for me.
Except at some point on Yonge, I saw some guy gesture at me out of the corner of my eye. I kept going, but for a while he matched my pace, then he fell behind, to check out the goods, I assumed, then he caught up with me again, and I slowed down to let him get ahead, at which point he stopped, tapped me on the shoulder, and I was forced to take the buds out of my ears and face the world head on.
Excuse me Miss, can I talk to you?
Talk to me? I stammered...oh great, the only thing worse than some guy hitting on you is some guy trying to convert you to his religion.
Yes, he said. When I saw you walk by, I thought to myself, now there's an attractive young woman...
Oh great. So I am being picked up on the street after all.
He fell into step beside me as I continued on, and he blabbered about how fate had put him on Yonge street since it was the first day of his vacation and he wasn't normally in this part of the city, and how I could call him Prospector and I was his gold mine.
Yes, really, that's what he said. And for the rest of the story, I will refer to him as Tito, because that should conjure up a pretty accurate image for you.
At this point, Tito has asked me to sit down on a picnic bench with him, and I've told him that I'm married, so I don't see much harm in listening to an exceptional character make a fool out of himself for a little while. The weather is gorgeous, and I haven't met any funny, mildly deranged people in a while.
But while we're sitting across from the Mount Pleasant Cemetery, a cyclist is hit and does a face plant on the road before him. He does not get up. People, good people, rush to his aid. I am very upset by this, of course, but feel compelled to move on because the accident-gawking thing doesn't sit well with me.
Tito's reaction? He would like to treat me to a polish sausage.
A bit relieved, I find that he has no polish ancestry, and he's merely hungry.
Still. Polish sausage.
I decline, obviously, but let him buy me a bottle of water because he insists, and because otherwise I was about to get an orange crush, which is one of the least refreshing beverages I can think of.
As he masticates, he expounds on his theory that god has sent him to me, me being variously a "classy young lady", "a lady of very high calibre", "the prettiest thing on Yonge", and so many other cornball lines that I just stop listening.
The fourth time he asks me if I'm sure I wouldn't like a bite of his sausage, I thank him for the company and get up to go. I head up St Clair toward home, and find that Tito is following me.
We can't part yet, he tells me, surely I've noticed how the sparks are flying between us?
Really? I thought that was just gobs of your spit.
Unwilling to lead this man to my house, I sit down in a park, where he tells me I've not only made his day, but his "whole view of the universe", whatever the hell that means. He also tells me that he's the "romantickest" guy I'll ever meet, a true gentleman, would like to see me in a skirt and heels, wants very badly to cook me spaghetti, his specialty (he puts ground beef into a jar of ragu), and that our "first time" would be earth-shattering.
Probably my fault for using a word as vague as "married". Next time I will arm myself with more concrete phrases such as "my husband has a large gun collection", "the nunnery doesn't like me to be late", "my genitalia are ambiguous", "scorching case of herpes", etc, etc.
I tell him I really have to go, and he tells me that he'll buy my subway ride home if it means I can stay even 10 minutes more. I tell him that I practically have this medical condition that forces me to walk. He says he'll walk me home. I can't think of a good reason why not, so I don't give him one, and just flat-out say no. He asks for my phone number. I tell him I don't have a phone. He gives me his instead, tells me to call at exactly 10 am the next day. He asks where I live, and I point vaguely in the direction (still some 5km away, luckily). I tell him goodbye, and he grabs my hand.
Don't let any guys pick you up on the rest of your way home, he pleads. Give our love a chance.
In answer, I make a splorting noise that is mostly choking with a some suppressed laughter and unavoidable groaning mixed in. As I make my getaway, I walk very quickly, without looking back, and I have to tell myself not to run. I hold it in until Spadina, where I unleash a fit of giggles that actually stops traffic momentarily as the first 3 cars at a green light watch me instead of making their left turns.
The next day (today, Thursday), 10am comes and goes. I do not call Tito.
I poke up my blisters and judge that I can make a trip to the library, the grocery store, the pharmacy. I put on my music and make a firm resolution that even taps on the shoulder will forever more be ignored. Make no eye contact, smile at no one, I tell myself. Before heading out, I grab the egg of dubious luck and give it a second chance. I slip it into my left pocket (note: this is what we call "foreshadowing").
As I walk down the street, a very cute old man is standing on the corner, trying to entice the passers-by into taking his pamphlets. Although the city has issued a "heat warning", he is wearing a suit, with his belted pants riding just below his nipples. He's so sweet looking that I almost want to convert for him, but I am firm in my resolution, so I nod slightly but don't pause.
I keep my music on in the grocery store, pick up my things, and remove my headphones only when I'm standing in front of the cashier. They are luckily replaced by the time I leave, because a man standing outside the door badly wants me to sign up for a credit card, I think. I shrug at him, indicate my music, and just keep moving.
I head for Shopper's Drug Mart because the grocery store sells only Coke products, which is a sin, and I must have my diet Pepsi. I stop for a moment to help an elderly woman who is carrying a heavy load. Her plastic bag has forsaken her, so I throw her groceries into my backpack and walk them home for her. She is grateful and tries to pay me, but instead I give her my number and offer to come help anytime she needs it. I have made a new friend.
At the drugstore, I walk up the foot care aisle and surmise that there isn't a cure on the planet for my many blisters, but since I'm still upright and mobile anyway, I guess I'm tough enough to do without. I head for the heavenly display of Pepsi, but I feel a tap on my shoulder. Don't turn around, don't turn around, don't turn around.
Actually, it's hard to pretend you haven't felt a tap on your shoulder. Not wanting to, I turned around, and there was Tito.
Apparently, he'd grown concerned by 10:08 and resolved to try to track me down. Not knowing my address, he'd spent the past 4 hours walking around the neighbourhood, and lo and behold, he'd actually spotted my blonde head bobbing along.
I ask you, dear readers, does this ring of stalker to you?
Because frankly, I was astonished to see him. And not happy astonished, creeped-out astonished.
I plastered a phony smile on my face while he droned on about how he already feels like my knight in shining armour, and it was his sworn duty to make sure that I was okay since clearly something tragic must have happened for me not to call. Meanwhile, in my head, I was thinking: how the fuck do I get out of this?
I told him I was in a big hurry to get home, and no, he couldn't join me. He wanted very badly for me to get to a payphone so I could prove my ability to correctly dial his phone number (which he'd re-given to me), and I told him that was "crazy", asked him which way he was headed, and said that I happened to be going the exact opposite way, which naturally was the exact opposite direction of my house, but I thought, blisters be damned, I will get down on my belly and squirm my way home, but I will not let this man find out where I live.
So, now I have a "date" to call him tomorrow at 10.
This time I think I will call.
Any choice words that you'd recommend? I intend to be brutal, to make sure that there is no room for misinterpretation.
And as for Kat, giver of the worst luck talisman in the universe, I strongly encourage you to visit her site and boo her into infinity :)