Friday, February 09, 2007

While Jim Morrison was a Rock God, His Lyrics Leave Much to Be Desired*

Is this a coincidence? A case of bad luck? Do the planets align in a certain way to make this happen? Is there an aura that attracts a certain type of person to me? Or is it some weird form of magnetism that doesn't involve metal? Whatever the case may be, I have a way of attracting freaks. Not everyone I know, thankfully, but enough random strangers that make me believe the word stranger is perfect. "People are strange, when you're a stranger," as the old Doors song goes.

Shrunken head man. Farty old guy. El stalkerino. Mouse. Uncle Ga-Ga. Birchwood. Man-booby caretaker. Pete and Guru. The list goes on and on.

In the same fashion, I have found a new person to add to the list. Last April, my computer died. It was a heart attack. Quick, painful, and expensive. I purchased the laptop (which I adore) at Mega Electronics Retail (MER for short) and had to have the deceased machine poked and prodded. My hopes were that an autopsy could recover some of the lost data. My hopes were crushed. Luckily, my anal retentive personality allowed a minimal amount of lost files due to back-ups and uploads (Flickr is wonderful!). While at MER, I dealt with a man working behind the computer counter. I think I meant to write about that odd experience, yet never quite did.

The man worked for the Nerd Brigade. And he took the title seriously. Do you ever have those interactions with someone who is not quite flirting but you can see hidden intentions and those intentions are the creepy variety? That's what it was like talking to him. He was too familiar. He acted like he knew me more than he should have.

This is a man whom I instantly stereotyped into the group of men who would never move out of his mom's basement until she either kicked him out or kicked the bucket. Nerd Brigade, remember. Not cool, intelligent tech guy. No. Nerd Brigade. He looked over my paperwork, noting my name a little too much and I squirmed as he made it clear he now knew my address. One of the questions on the paperwork was whether or not I thought the Nerd Brigade should wear capes. I indicated in the negative. His remark, "I have a cape."

Once out of the store, complete with the laptop, I thought I was cleansed of him. I held this belief until a month ago when Steve and I visited the local fast sub shop. Walking in and seeing him behind the counter, I instantly recognized him. And he recognized me, but not enough to remember where we had last met. As he told me that he knew me, I played it off and pretended that I did not know him. The uncomfortable, searching gaze continued from his face and I ordered my food, hoping to be back at work as quickly as possible and away from him. We got our food and left without incident.

A week ago, Steve craved subs again. I realized at that point, I'd been avoiding returning to the sub shop in fears this individual would recognize me and try to start a conversation.

When we walked in, my stomach dropped and I wanted to groan aloud because he was there again, behind the counter. Again, he told me that he knew me and made a point of looking at my debit card, searching his mind for my name. I don't want to be on any list in his head. He tells me that he has a thing for faces and mine is familiar. This time, I try to play it off as a frequent visitor of the sub shop, but he is not satisfied.

In these interactions, I am comforted by the fact Steve is with me. While a co-worker, Steve is also a friend and someone that will help direct attention away. We get our subs and eat and notice other patrons doing the same. No one draws attention to the out-of-place item in the store. Acknowledgement never happens. It is as if there is an unvoiced agreement in society to ignore strangeness in the group hope that by ignoring it, it will disappear.

We finish our subs and get back in the car. Once clear of earshot, we can no longer hold it in. "He was wearing a CAPE!" I exclaim and Steve dissolves into giggles.

Steve, ever so cleaver, nicknames him, "Captain BLT," and creates a comic story around him. It is his secret identity and his sidekick would be named, "Pickles."

Who? Why? What? He was wearing a cape, a legitimate cape - not the bath towel variety that you'd find on little children trying to play Superman, but a silk cape with some secret symbol on the back. He was working at a place that does not have capes as part of the dress code. It was not required. Why? I don't understand.

Scary. Just plain scary.

*Check the lyrics to "People Are Strange." There is only one verse, repeated three times. There is a chorus that repeats part of the verse. Yeah, stick with what you know.