NTKOG #7: The kind of girl whose gaze alights on a comely stranger and who subsequently stalks him like prey or like a piece of celery, if you prefer, until the most suitable opportunity arises for them to meet, as if by chance.
I am: a bit shy about meeting people in public — even people I know. I can’t count the number of times I’ve ducked into a convenient shrubbery to avoid the eye of a long-lost acquaintance, or taken a needless detour on the sidewalk because my steps have been aligned too long with some hapless stranger.
I am not: stealthy, sneaky or bunny-boilingly insane. I mean, sure, in the case of an attractive gent I may on occasion do some discretionary skulking, but stalking? Out of the question.
The Scene: After an invigorating stroll up and down a main thoroughfare in my sister’s neighborhood, I stopped at an unfamiliar T stop on the green line, ready to scent my prey. Up he strolled: a tall, dark-ish young man, wearing a baseball T-shirt, jaywalking across the street with nary a cautionary glance while reading a book. I sidled close to him, but not too close, to try to make out the name of the book he was reading. Some airport-bookstore potboiler with inch-and-a-half margins all ’round.
We got onto the T — standing room only — and I followed him into the bowels of the last car, squatting sideways against an elderly Asian woman who clearly begrudged me my half of the hand-hold. I glanced periodically at the guy, looking for any detail to slip into conversation during our inevitable meeting. He looked maybe half-Egyptian, like the kind of guy who, during a discussion of the Suez Canal, might add sagely, “My grandmother’s from Egypt,” but when you asked what city, trail into an indistinct mumble. After a short bout of intense staring on my part, he glanced nervously at me over his shoulder a few times. I feigned deep interest on the tunnel walls rushing by.
A passel of passengers exited at Kenmore, including the Asian woman, and the guy and I had a brief tussle over who would inhabit her slightly more desireable standing room. He gallantly ducked out. As more passengers entered at Hynes Convention Center, he was forced to stand directly in front of me. Had the hunter become the hunted?
I had not.
After absolutely no eye contact, I pulled out a book of my own, while he practically twisted out of his hoodie, trying to turn as far away from me as possible. Finally, he bookmarked his pot-boiler and prepared to exit at Copley. I did the same. As we exited, I accidentally nudge into him, and he practically sprinted — hurdling over a wayward nun — toward the exit.
No problem. Private Detective 101: letting some space get between you and your target. A pack of tourists cut in front of me, and I jostled through them out the exit, trying to keep tabs on the guy. Man, I don’t know what real PIs do when they have to tail someone of average height.
He crossed the street, toward South Church.
What I wanted to happen:
My stalkee heads into a cool indie bookstore, where I follow him, casually flipping through a new edition of a PG Wodehouse novel. After a bout of parallel browsing, I casually approach him:
TKOG: Excuse me. I’m new here, and I was wondering, do you know where there’s a good coffee shop in this area?
Stalkee: Weren’t you standing next to me on the T?
TKOG: I’m sorry? I don’t know.
S: No, you definitely were. Did you follow me here?
TKOG: Not to get all Golda Meir on you, but don’t be so humble. You’re not that great.
S: Yeah, I guess that would have been pretty unlikely.
TKOG: [winningly] I know, right? Like, fall out of love with me already.
S: I was just about to get a coffee. Let’s go together.
What actually happened:
My stalkee stood in the corner of a construction site pedestrian detour, talking on the phone. I stood on an opposite street corner, pretending to fumble with my own phone, while keeping an eye on any of his potential exit routes. After seven minutes, I cross the street to walk past him. He is still on the phone, but facing the street this time. He casts me what I think I’m not over-selling as a glance of mute horror.
Five minutes later, I walk by again, and he has escaped. Into thin air.
Dejected, I browse Crate & Barrel and buy myself a self-pity vase.
The Verdict: Stalking: the only method of meeting men less effective and more creepy than online dating. Not for me, no thanks, no how.