You know how sometimes you watch a movie and think, “This is unrealistic. Things like this don’t really happen.” Like a woman is prancing around her house wearing a thin nighty at 3 a.m., investigating a noise she heard in the basement that sounded like a werewolf because it actually is a werewolf. Well…
I’m about to tell you about a friend of mine from New York. When you catch yourself thinking, “This is unrealistic.” – Stop. I’m not making anything up. I’ve seen this friend, we’ll call her Heather, do things that would terrify and confuse even a werewolf.
Heather saw a man one day in a building. She thought he was handsome. I’m sure most of us can relate to this. Nothing weird right? Heather went home and thought about the man for a few days. He was really handsome. Instead of being passive, Heather grabbed life by the face. She made up a poster. It said: ‘To the man with brown hair and a guitar, who was in this building on such and such a date at such and such a time: Please, call XXX-XXX-XXXX.” She hung it in several locations around the building where she had first sighted him.
She never received a call. Obviously, he never saw the poster. Heather let him go…for a while.
Several weeks later, she had a few minutes between classes, so she did an internet search. He was really handsome. The building in which the original sighting had taken place was a hub for graduate students in the local university’s music program. With some perusal of college records, graduate student photographs, and class schedules, Heather found him. His name was Mitch. Mitch had a website with contact information. Beneath his email address there was a phone number with the caption ‘Call for anecdotes.’
She called the number. When Mitch answered, he didn’t bother asking who was calling. Instead, he began a long winded tale of his visit to Poland. (Incidentally, Mitch had never been to Poland) Heather was smitten.
I’m trying very hard not to insert my personal opinions about this story, but I can’t resist. What?
Every several days, she would call the number. Mitch would tell a story, she would listen, they would both hang up.
Heather spent a great deal of time thinking about Mitch. In her defense, she was taking Organic Chemistry.
The next logical step (obviously) was to find out where he lived, so that she could walk past his house on occasion. Through a series of unusual stalking techniques, she discovered a photograph of his residence on the internet. She jotted down the description of the building, then began to systematically explore New York City to find it. It’s sort of hard to believe, (if you don’t know her), but she succeeded.
A couple of times a week, she would walk past his house on her way home. She began to fantasize about ‘accidentally’ bumping into him. They would hit it off, and begin seeing one another. She would not mention to him that she was the one calling for anecdotes. Never mind the likelihood that he would recognize her voice. Once they became a little more serious, she would begin to get jealous of the girl he was always talking to on the phone (her). She would ask him why he spent so much time telling stories to strange women. She would accuse him of cheating.
I’m not postulating here. Heather mentioned thinking all of these things. She explained, “How could I not think of the possibilities? An opportunity like this may never again arise.”
Eventually, Mitch asked to meet her. Heather didn’t want things to change. She liked listening to the anecdotes, and she liked her anonymity. According to her, anonymity prolonged the period of time between meeting an attractive man, and when he vanished. Mitch was firm. He suggested that he bring his camera to the meeting, for some nude photography, which Heather was not fundamentally opposed to. In fact, Heather had suggested something even more unusual. She had suggested that he wait for her on the roof, blindfolded, so that she could give him an anonymous foot rub. I can’t express how gross this sounds to me. I can’t imagine offering to touch a total stranger’s feet. I’m nauseated writing about it. Even Mitch found her suggestion creepy.
This is where the story starts to lose believability, or perhaps you think that might have been several paragraphs ago… But, Heather agreed to meet him at high noon at the top of a building for a photo shoot. She waited for him there, wearing a mask elaborately decorated with fake flowers and birds. (photo below)
In addition to the mask, she wore a furry vest, hat, scarf, and gloves, and a neon pink muppety-jacket recovered from a dumpster. When he arrived, slightly past noon, she threw glitter and balloons at him, and pretended to be an animal.
Mitch didn’t bring up nude photography, which was slightly insulting (according to Heather), but he did take an entire roll of film. She posed in cat-like crouches, lunges, and acted like a coy animal-creature.
Up until this point in the story, I had assumed that Mitch was a predator, despite how strange I found Heather’s fantasies, in the a game of cat and mouse, I would have called Heather the mouse. I worried about her ending up in a terrible, scary situation, like cut up into pieces and wrapped in plastic. Mitch, in my mind, was a dangerous cat, ready to pounce.
The surprise ending to this tale is that Heather was the cat. The face to mask meeting left her disappointed. Mitch was boring. She thought his conversation skills were poor, his spontaneity muscles weak, and his outlook, dull. The chase was over.
Today’s lesson: Sometimes, when you think you’re the cat, you’re the mouse. Be careful out there. It’s a strange world.