Close Encounter

I was walking along at the mall minding my own business when all of a sudden I was faced with forced social interaction.

At my New York pace, I usually breeze by most other pedestrians, exchanging only occasional excuse me’s when they’re too in-the-way to easily maneuver past. On this night, however, I was the one who got passed. Correction: I got cut off. And then the fun ensued.

The guy who cut me off at first walked in front of me for a few steps, then he abruptly spun around to face me. I assumed he’d only then noticed my presence, and when he opened his mouth to speak, I thought it would be to apologize for his transgression. But alas my guess was incorrect, and his behavior entirely unpredictable.

Face-to-face as we were, I came to a dead stop so as not to run into him. His first move: he extended his hand to shake mine. His second move: he explained that he couldn’t help but notice me. He said he thought I was really cute, and although he was en route to meet some friends at The Coffee Bean, he felt it was worth stopping to say hi to me. I let out an internal sigh, held back my inner teenager who was dying to roll her eyes, and reminded myself of my unofficial new year’s resolution to be more patient with people. So I reluctantly shook his hand. And then the universe decided to punish my deed by making me tolerate a series of questions he posed.

Questions like “What are you out shopping for?” (me: “Um, clothes and stuff, I guess.”) and “Are you an actress?” Plus observations such as, “Do you watch Family Guy? You sound just like Meg Griffin.” He went on to relate to my perceived voice acting skills by stating that, “So I guess my roommate works at like, Nickelodeon, and he says I should do voice acting ’cause I’m really good at foreign accents.” I told him that I don’t actually do voice acting, but it seems cool and if he has a chance to, he should go for it.

And then, this dialog happened:

Him: “What do you do?”

Me: “Marketing.”

Him: “Like SEO?”

Me: “No, just marketing.

Him: “I have nothing to say about that.”

Me: (silence)

Immediately following that gem, he said “Well, bye” and he made me give him a parting high-five. Then he walked away in the same direction he’d come from — the opposite direction as The Coffee Bean.

I stood there thinking it must’ve been some sort of dare. That his friends were lurking around the corner and the challenge was to get a girl you don’t know to give you a handshake and high-five. He asked all those odd questions and didn’t ask the obvious one, which was whether or not I was single. Then I started thinking about my hand and the fact that touching a stranger’s skin is weird and possibly unsafe. Could acid (LSD or the burning kind) be transferred on skin?

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