Monday, November 8, 2010

My Life As A Freak Magnet

Don’t ask me why. I have no idea. No idea at all. But it’s always been this way. Without any encouragement from me, absolutely no sign of interest whatsoever, people will just come up to me and tell me their (often bizarre) life stories. I don’t dress provocatively and I avoid eye contact. But still these people are drawn to me. I don’t ask questions and I don’t press them to elaborate. In fact, I’m usually trying to get away.

But if there’s one in range, they will find me. Every freak, geek, pervert, panhandler, miscreant, social reprobate, clochard or general ne’er-do-well targets me like I’m the saviour of the underworld, trying to touch my raiment, get my money, a relationship, redemption, whatever they seek is what they believe will come from me.

Bicycle Guy On The Beach

We were vacationing on St. Simon’s Island. One morning, after a walk on the beach, Julie (beloved corgi) was exhausted so we decided Husband would drive her back to the condo so Parker and I could continue jogging on the beach. Husband offered to drive back for us and wanted to leave his cell phone with me. Oh no, we were just fine. Less than a mile from the condo, what could go wrong?

Earlier we had seen an old guy, probably not as old as he looked, on a mountain bike talking to some folks. My freak alert antennae went up and told me to avoid this one, not to make any eye contact and to try to be as inconspicuous as possible.

So, Parker and I walk from the water up to the bridge and pass by this guy who fortunately makes no attempt to talk. We walk up to the area with a water hose where we can rinse sand off our feet and legs. I spend a lot of time getting the sand out of his fur before we head off up the road. We’ve been walking less than ten minutes when I hear a voice behind yell out “Are you a real redhead?”

Oh, hell. Not the redhead question. Why me?

I look straight ahead and try to continue minding my own business. This nut rides up beside me and asks again. Then adds, “My ex-wife dyed her hair red and then when she tried to dye it back brunette she ruined it. Her hair was ruined,”

And all the way up the street he rides along beside us, asking a lot of personal questions that I don’t intend to answer. Of course, I’ve got no cell phone or weapon on me so I want to play it easy just in case he’s the violent type. He sees a white Land Rover coming toward us and yells and waves. He tells me it is his sister and then the life story begins. Apparently his family accumulated their wealth as the founders and owners of a well-known frozen dessert company.

They have nine Land Rovers, granddaddy has just bought his fiftieth Rolls Royce, a private plane, a house in an expensive part of Atlanta and one in the millionaire end of St. Simon’s Island, he is getting his new dental implants soon because he hated his false teeth. He is wearing none at the moment. He claims to have broken them in front of “mommy and daddy” to show how much he hated them. He looks a bit weathered, and seems to have been outfitted in an expensive bike, biking gear and even the fancy water bottle to match.

“I’m bipolar from birth,” he announces. “Mommy is bipolar, too. We’ve always been bipolar.”

Well, that may be but I’m betting good money there’s a lot more to explaining his behavior and looks. As we get to the end of the street he tries to get me to go to the airport to see the plane. He’s headed there to fly to Atlanta and pick up two nieces to bring down for vacation. I manage to convince him that I have to go the other way.

The next day on the beach Husband sees two local policemen to ask about the guy. Turns out they have to speak to him on a regular basis about scaring women, but they insist he’s harmless.

Well, no one suspects the ones who commit the really weird crimes, do they? Pick up a book or two by Ann Rule, Diane Fanning, or Kathryn Casey.

Here are a few more of my freak magnet encounters.

The Office Supply Store Clerk

I’m just there to buy some paper, ink, and file storage containers. A slovenly fellow, white, about 35 asks if I need help. Suddenly I’m hearing about his sister who was raised by an aunt because she was born with a backward stomach believed to be caused by his mother’s alcoholism and drug abuse. He, however, enlisted in the marines and served four years in the intelligence department. He was the only one who didn’t have to exercise or wear a uniform like the rest because he was a special agent. The last part sounds partially right. It went on but it is successfully blocked from memory.

Oh, Not Him

And I always get the ones that everyone else thinks are harmless. As I share my experiences and fears with others – after all, if I suddenly disappear I want someone to know the back story for the cops – I generally get these same standard responses.

I caught a co-worker - a married man - spying on me when I went to lunch and claiming to be protecting me. I was so upset I told a couple of other employees. They saw no problem.  “He just wants a friend, someone to talk to and he likes you.” Or “You must have misunderstood. Not him, he’s married, has kids, and goes to church.” Yeah, I believe the BTK killer, Dennis Rader, was also married and was the respected, friendly greeter at his church.

Okay, that's enough for now. You know, however, Part Two is en route.


Helen Ginger said...

You do carry pepper spray with you, don't you? Or maybe one of those cans that you hit the button and it emits a loud shrieking siren?

parrish lantern said...

Could it be they mistakenly perceive you as some kind of kindred spirit?.