If I asked my family and friends to decide upon my most annoying quality, it would not be my man hands. Many a vacuum sealed jar of pickles are opened on my watch. I also doubt it would be my loud voice that sounds like a 13 year old boy hitting puberty. Before cell phones, it was the way my baritone voice projected for miles that helped them find me every time I got lost. No, I think if they had to pick only one thing about me to hate, it would be this: I have a staring problem.
I do. It’s so bad, I don’t even know I’m doing it. Just be assured that if you have an unusual air about you, I’m looking at you like a creature under glass. If you are beautiful, I’ll analyze your features to see what it is that works so well. Have an unusually shaped nose or rubbery lips? I’m sorry, but I noticed.
Sometimes I stare so much that I am no longer staring, if that makes sense. Someone or something will draw me in with their crooked toes or luxurious hair and I’ll stare for a second or two (thousand). After that, I’m off in my own mind, focused on whatever thoughts the toes/hair/whatever triggered. I’ve tried to explain this to The Mister every time he leans over and hisses at me between clenched teeth to PLEASE STOP STARING AT THOSE PEOPLE. I tell him that I am no longer staring. I’m thinking while staring into space…which happens to be in the direction of a guy who looks like he is on his way to the Roxbury. According to The Mister, it doesn’t matter where your mind is; so long as your eyes are resting on a person, you’re staring.
So today I stared at a man at Trader Joe’s and, if you ask me, he was begging for it.
There is no other explanation for what I saw.
At well over six and a half feet, I would have noticed him in line at the register even if he wasn’t wearing a faux vintage tattoo t-shirt over a fitted Henley, both of which were tucked into leather trimmed jeans. If not his height or clothing, surely his dyed, caramel colored Edward Cullen hair would have caught my eye. Between the height, the clothes, and the hair, I have to believe that I was not so much staring as I was giving him exactly what he wanted: my eyeballs. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him, and we’ve established that I am not subtle when I don’t know I’m staring. Being aware of my fixation, I can only imagine that, since I was unable to tear my eyes away, I must have looked like a scene from Who Framed Roger Rabbit with large, cartoonish eyeballs flying out of my sockets on springs.
It wasn’t just that he was dressed, oh, 50 years too young. (And I was worried about growing my hair out!) It was that the rest of him was so…grandfatherly. You would expect a little swagger with so much hip. Perhaps some heavy-handed cosmetic surgery. Nope! Weathered skin, jowls, large ear lobes, and slight paunch all pointed to a man who should be whittling ducks from blocks of beechwood. Too! Much! Cognitive! Dissonance!
At some point I paid for my groceries. I headed towards my prey. I absolutely had to see what shoes he was wearing. Hand to heart, had he been wearing DC Shoes my head would have exploded. Spoiler–I never did get to see his shoes. I dodged an old bird with a cart only to get blocked by none other than Mr. Giacomazzi wheeling a load of bottled water. I moved from side-to-side, hoping for a break in the crowd. Shoes! I must see his shoes!
Suddenly, Mr. Giacomazzi stopped, and right in front of grandpa Hardy! I couldn’t believe my luck. I lurked behind Mr. Giacomazzi, marveling at my good fortune to be wearing a trench coat. It tied in so nicely with my sluethy behavior!
Mr. Giacomazzi looked up at grandpa Hardy and opened his mouth to speak. I was so anxious every hair on my head stuck out around me in a halo of electrically charged anticipation.
“Hello, Leonard. How have you been?”
“Oh, fine. Just getting some last minute things.”
My head shot up like a rocket. Grandpa Hardy’s name is…Leonard?! Leo I can see. Rick. Mason. Maybe even Ralph, but not Leonard. Leonard does your taxes and mows the lawn wearing black socks. He doesn’t wear $200 jeans and pick up frozen edamame for dinner. Then I took a closer look at Leonard’s face and saw a set of eyes so red I thought I was back at college and living two doors down from Rastafarian white guys from Connecticut (religious experience my Grandma Rosie).
Grandpa Hardy aka Leonard was higher than a hot air balloon during Temecula Valley wine season. A toker! A pot head! A rapscallion! Scandalous, maybe. But at least that explains the Ed Hardy.