I don’t get out much and when I am out and about my interactions with Other People are confusing. Confusing for me because these days I’m not super great at tracking communications unrelated to my work. Confusing for them because I am entirely unpredictable in my responses. For me the Other People seem like a radio station fritzing in and out. I respond to the portions I comprehend. Recipe for weirdness.
But. Sometimes my difficulties are surpassed.
The WideEyedSpouse and I were at the Central Library downtown on New Year’s Eve (Friends, this is how I ring in the New Year. With books.) The Central Library is a tricksy place filled with lunching corporate workers, homeless people in from the cold, retired people, people on long bus layovers, and kids. I keep my eyes to myself and my hand on my wallet – always good business in any city or university library.
I waited for about three-fifths of my lifetime for the person ahead of me to do the self check out. He kept getting his two books and library card out of his library sack and checking out first one, then the other book. He’d pick up the sack handles and start to move away. Pause for thought. Rescan library card. Check out one, then the other. The first two times I was fooled but I’m a quick learner and I stood patiently waiting for him to work through his OCD. I gazed into the middle distance and listened to the whir of the escalator behind me.
The OCD patron got through his cycle and I stepped up with my stack of sci-fi, romance, memoirs… I set them on the gray check out reader pad and scanned my library card. Beep. The air to my left moved in an unexpected way and I looked up swiftly but not, I assure you, like prey – “Hi. I’m Matt,” announced a youngish male-person with a dark blue stocking cap. His voice was a little breathy, he was nervy about something. He smiled and tilted his head, maybe showing me his swirly neck tattoo. He had agreeable teeth. Not at all crystal methy. So I answered. “Hi Matt, what can I do for you?”
“Are you cold?” he asked me. I wasn’t. In fact I was wearing a heavy wool coat, snow boots, and a scarf. Interesting, I thought to myself. “No. Not particularly. Why do you ask?”
Young Matt looked at me like I wasn’t super bright and said, “You’re wearing a skirt. You’re the only girl in here wearing a skirt today and it’s cold outside.” I looked at him while I thought about my answer. Maybe Matt was a young anthropologist from another time or place (in human disguise?) and he was interviewing to understand Downtown Buffalo (Earth?) cultures. Maybe Young Matt was often cold himself and just had to know how I could stand it. Maybe Nefarious Matt’s buddies were circling around to grab my purse or, longshot, maybe he was hitting on me. It was impossible to interpret from his open and cheery attitude. So I answered him, “It isn’t too bad today. It gets uncomfortable on super windy days, so I don’t wear a skirt then,” I smiled at him and gathered up my checked out books. “Oh,” he started, and then was gone. I didn’t see him leave – I looked to my right to see if he had moved around the book check station and there was the WideEyedSpouse, approaching with big booted strides, looking even taller and bigger than usual in his winter boots and coat.
The Spouse pretty clearly scared off Curious Matt. I was happy to see the Spouse, as always, but now I’ll never know what was happening in that conversation.