But this is something else. This is the inviolable rule of threes. This morning, on the subway, I had my third encounter with the man that Oach delights in referring to as my boyfriend. For the backstory, read THIS before continuing.
So yeah, this morning the other shoe fell.
I was sitting on the N train with my eyes closed and Three Dog Night playing on my Ipod.
The train had just passed 59th and Lexington, so many commuters transferred over to the 4 5 6 line, and seats opened up. As the train was moving down the track, I felt a *whumph* and material touching my arm. At first I assumed it was simply an overweight businessperson sitting down harder than they had originally planned. I was disabused of this notion by the Spider-sense buzzing in my head.
Sidenote: this is one of the most ridiculous uses of Spidey-sense I've ever seen.
Reluctantly, I opened my eyes. I checked the reflection in the window opposite, and added visual confirmation to the olfactory info I had just gotten wind of. It was my "friend." He was sitting in the seat next to me, sideways, staring at me.
Now this was one of the newer N cars, so thankfully there was a vertical hand rail that separated us. It gave me a slight feeling of safety and an imaginary boundary line. I made eye contact with one of the two twentysomething girls seated accross from me. We had a completely wordless conversation that went something like this:
Her: Ummm... You have a homelessman staring at you.
Me: I was afraid of that
Her: Oh, man. What are you going to do about it?
Me: I don't suppose you'd want to help me out at all?
Her: No chance, you're on your own. Good luck, though.
Me: (sigh) Thanks, enjoy the show.
And so it was time to go into battle. I turned and met his shrunken, horryifying eyes once again. He left it to me to initiate conversation. Foolishly, I went to my default.
"Can I help you?"
I was expecting him to be silent and staring, but, remarkably, he spoke:
That's what I heard anyway.
"I'm sorry, I didn't understand you," said I.
Ok, time to get crazy with some strategy on him. I removed one of my ipod's ear buds.
"One more time?"
"I got a toothache."Ah. My immediate diagnosis was that of Phantom Limb , but I didn't really feel like explaining the concept to him.
"I'm sorry to hear it." And I was, but hey, I don't exactly go walking around with a dental plan in my pants (that's not true, ladies. *wink*).
"Yeah" was his response.
"Well, good luck with that," I said. Then, in a move I had been planning for the last three seconds, I put the ear bud back in my ear to signal the end of the conversation. I looked back at the girl.
Me: How was that?
Her: He's still there, and he's still staring at you.
Me: Yeah, I'm pretty sure he's going to do that for a while.
Her: If not for the smell, I would be enjoying your plight immensely
Me: Meh, whatcha gonna do?
At this point we had just left the 57th street station. That meant more people had gotten off, and I was free to slide over a half a space. This gave me room to breathe without my friend all up on me, and the vertical handrail prevented him from getting any closer. The staring did continue unabated.
My salvation was technology. In our previous encounters, he had forced me to deal with him directly. Thanks to the wonder of the Ipod that my parents gave me for my birthday (Thanks again, Mom and Dad!) I was able to ignore him. To paraphrase Al Pacino in the movie Heat:
"You know, we are sitting here, you and I, like a couple of regular fellas. You do what you do, and I do what I gotta do. And now that we've been face to face, if I'm there and I gotta put you away, I won't like it. But I tell you, if it's between you and me in a pointless battle of willpower, brother, you are going down."
I once had a contest with a coworker to see who could keep their arm submerged in a bucket of ice water the longest. I won that competition handily (get it?). So if this guy thinks I can't stare straight ahead for a few more stops, then he's got another thing coming. I think he tried to speak to me a few more times, but the groovy sounds of Three Dog Night drowned him out. I had the beginnings of a little smile on my face, as I had already started writing this blog in my head, and realized the truth that his capacity to unnerve me was far less than my capacity to pay no attention to him whatsoever.
When the train rolled into Union Square, I thought my salvation was at hand. Just a quick transfer to the R, and I'd be free. Sadly, the R train left before the doors opened. Watching from my periphery, the homelessman was definitely going to follow me. Let him try. The doors opened, and I headed for the stairs, putting the distance of several humans between us. Then I vanished without a trace, like the Ghost Who Walks.
Ok, a bit of exaggeration. I made a protracted loop around the station and ended up on the same platform I left. He presumably caught an uptown train to start his cycle over again and potentially latch onto someone with a more exposed sense of pity.
Well at least the third encounter is out of the way, and I don't have to live in fear any more. If these things keep happening, we may have to work out an agreement that involves me paying him to bother Oach or Mr. Morchison whenever they're on the train. Let him earn my money.Oh yes, and also I've decided to announce a contest for this blog entry. The first person to guess the Secret Word for this post will win a fabulous prize. Of some kind. Let's see... Aha! The first person to guess the Secret Word for this post will win a copy of Sex for America: Politically Inspired Erotica.
So yeah, let the games begin!
P.S. - Your first clue is inviolable.