I've always been a freak magnet. As far back as I can remember, I've sported some kind of irresistible forehead tattoo only visible to the criminally insane, and no matter how I've tried, I can't seem to shake it. The pants-wetters, the booger-eaters, the inappropriately tactile, the uncomfortably direct...I am their queen. Once, as a teenager, I sat on the Spanish Steps in Rome and endured a particularly brutal string of increasingly disturbing propositions from a Dutch junkie who's name, I still remember, was Yoopie. Brimming with seventeen year-old gumption, I said to him, "Yoopie, let me ask you a question. What is it about me that makes you think this is okay?" and, after a few seconds of honest thought, he answered, "I don't know. Perhaps you should just go with it." And honestly, I thought that was fair enough. Sound advice coming from source. I wanted an answer, and I got one. So I've tried. Through the years, I've tried to train myself not to freak out when people lurch toward me reciting street poetry, dribble a-flying. I've made an honest, valiant effort to allow for the off-kilter logic of the reality-challenged. Honestly, I have. But no matter how I try, and no matter how much of a compassionate Zen master I tell myself I truly could be if I only tried HARDER, I can't seem to stop my innards recoiling in horror when the old man on the bus rubs up against me and yells "UNCOMFORTABLE?UNCOMFORTABLE?" In fact, it seems that the more it happens, the less used to it I get.
Today, I stepped out of my office for some...fresh air, and a man lunged up to me and asked if I had an extra cigarette. I said no because I'd only brought the one out with me, and he said thanks anyway and continued up the sidewalk. I knew it was too easy to be over that painlessly and, sure enough, when he got to the other side of the street, he turned around and started screaming "YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL...YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL IT'S TRUUUUE..." all James-Blunt-on-crack-style and would not stop. I couldn't really do anything but stand there awkwardly and feign confusion as passersby gave me WTF-eyes. I finished my cigarette in three long drags and hurried back toward the main gate as he trotted after me on the opposite side of the street, declaring his admiration for my silhouette in supersonic, pornographic detail. As I pawed desperately around my purse for my swipe card, the security guard said, "Looks like you've got a fan!"
And my reign continues.