parking garage creepiness.

When you commute, you tend to see the same people over and over again. You wouldn’t call them friends, or even acquaintances, but you recognize them and they recognize you, and you smile when you see each other (well, a few smile back. Most some commuters are mean).

I usually park on the fourth floor of my garage. I guess you could say I’m fairly consistent – I arrive at the same time each day, more or less, and park in the same general area. Sometimes I see my fellow commuters walking from their cars to the elevator or stairs, and I recognize some of them and others, I’ve never seen before.

Last week, I was running a bit late. I parked my car on the fourth floor, as usual, but instead of taking the stairs, I veered over to the elevator. I was feeling a bit lazy, and it had just arrived so I wouldn’t have to wait. As I was stepping in the elevator, a man I’d never seen before said “Trying something new?”

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“Trying something new? You always take the stairs for exercise, but today you’re taking the elevator,” he said.

I looked at him. He smiled. I mumbled something appropriate, then dashed out of the elevator as soon as it stopped and ran for the train.

It’s rather horrifying to realize someone you’ve never seen before has not only seen you (perhaps dozens of times), but made note of your habits. People, be careful in parking garages – you never know who is watching.

katie

give books.

My boyfriend’s name is Matt, and he is lovely. He has not yet been properly introduced here, but he will be soon. Here is a picture of him:

Last week, I’d forgotten my book at home when rushing out the door for work. My book is the only thing between me and hundreds of dead-eyed commuter drones riding the MARC train between Baltimore and DC. Every. Single. Day. And riding the train without it is the cruelest form of torture.

Matt leaves work at 4:30, and I leave at 5. On this particular day, he told me he was leaving a bit early, and we said goodbye. A few minutes before I was packing up to leave the office, I got a mysterious text message:

Excitedly, I rushed to the train station. There, waiting on the platform, was Matt. Smiling, he drew me to the side, reached into his bag, and pulled out a book. Not just any book, but a book by RA Salvatore. He had rushed from work to his favorite secondhand bookstore in Dupont Circle and raced back to meet me before I left to catch my train, choosing a book he knew I would love, by an author I’m currently devouring. Most amazing boyfriend in the world universe.

katie

* which book, you ask? why, the thousand orcs, my friends! feast your eyes and PREPARE FOR AN ORC INVASION!

these orcs means serious business.

why you should never let your boyfriend hold your taser.

My brother gave me a taser for my birthday one year. It wasn’t terribly strong – you’d have to hold its metal prongs against someone’s skin for about 10 seconds before they’d drop, but it made a really nice crackling noise and watching the electricity jump from prong to prong was exciting.

While I hoped, of course, I’d never actually need to use it against an attacker, I couldn’t help but want to taser someone with it. Just for a few seconds. Okay, until they dropped. Who wouldn’t?

My biggest fear was that I’d accidentally taser myself when reaching into my purse to grab my wallet. It’s never been my desire to be hit with jolts of electricity that would then course through my body, causing me to fall unconscious and potentially soil myself.

I managed to keep myself safe from the taser’s prongs of danger for many months, until one weekend I brought both the taser and myself to visit my college boyfriend in Pennsylvania. Brimming with Keystone Light, my boyfriend and his friends persuaded me to let them borrow the taser, and took turns zapping each other, giggling and drinking and shouting encouragement. Watching people being tasered is fine entertainment. Unfortunately, my boyfriend decided he and his friends were being selfish, hogging all the tasering fun, and he generously decided to include me in the festivities.

And that, my friends, is why you should never let your boyfriend hold your taser – he will become so enthused with its electrical prowess and the possibility of rendering someone unconscious that he will surprise taser you in the leg.

Friend date vs. Date date.

Happy Friday!

Today we would like to discuss dating. Or, more specifically, men who ask you to do something with them in an ambiguous way. Is it a date? Is it a friend date? If you don’t go, will they take offense in a she-doesn’t-want-to-date-me way?

Gentlemen, if you want to ask a lady on a date, ask her on a date. Do not ask her to hang out in such a way that is unclear whether or not it is a date. We understand it takes balls to ask someone out. It’s scary and they might not accept, which can be embarrassing. Do it anyway. If you ask a female friend/love interest to do something casual, like grab drinks, there is a decent chance she won’t realize it’s actually a date. She may or may not have accepted, knowing it was a date, but if she does, you won’t face the potentially awful situation of attempting a goodnight kiss and having her leap back in surprise. We think some men ask for dates in this vague manner as a way of saving face – if she accepts, it’s a date, but if she declines, you can pretend it was just a friend thing anyway and doesn’t matter.

Do men always have to do the asking? No, they certainly don’t. There are plenty of women, braver than I, who have no qualms about going after a lovely gentleman. However, nothing is more attractive, and gives you more chance of a woman saying yes, than a man who goes after what he wants. A woman who might have said ‘no’ to an ambiguous “date” might just say ‘yes’ to the man who was confident enough to ask her out in the first place.

The Moroccan Mistake

Having just gotten back from Beirut, where I had met the loveliest Lebanese man, I decided to chance a date with a Moroccan guy I had met before that I wasn’t really interested in but thought hey, why not? Middle East guys are GREAT! The date was to go salsa dancing, so I could deal with having a salsa dancing partner once a week if nothing else came out of it.

This being the first time I had ever gone out with the guy, I was surprised when he asked me to meet him at his house. Even though I was advised against it, we were meeting a little early for him to teach me the beginning salsa steps, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt, thinking the salsa club might not be open yet. But I took my knife with me.

When I got to his apartment, he told me he didn’t clean anything up because he likes people to see him for who he is, and doesn’t want to pretend to be anyone else. Okay.

*                   *                    *                   *                    *                    *                    *

Salsa dancing was fun, he wanted me to stay out really late with him, but I had to work the next day so I declined. When he asked when we would meet again, I told him maybe we could get together that weekend to practice some of the steps. He called me the next night, texted me throughout the day, and the next day, and the next day. He called me on Saturday, apparently annoyed that we hadn’t hung out yet and that I hadn’t called him, and said “Look, why don’t you meet me tonight for a drink, and we can talk about what we’re going to do tomorrow.” Stupidly, I agreed, thinking that night I would tell him I wasn’t planning on doing anything with him the next day, and salsa dancing once a week was as far as I was willing to go (mainly because I don’t like being harassed).

He called me when he got off work, telling me he wanted to go home and change, then would meet me in 45 minutes. I said that was fine, but why didn’t he meet me at my house and then we could go somewhere. Silence. Then followed an annoyed kind of voice, saying how he’d have to drive all the way to his place then all the way back to mine, and it would take awhile. After a long circular conversation of whether he would just come over to my house instead of changing (and after asking to borrow MY shoes because his feet smelled, AND making a weird joke about if my feet were big they would fit) he grudgingly agreed to meet me at my house. Twenty minutes later he called.

There’s a problem. No parking. Silence.

Uh, well, you can circle the block and usually you’ll find a space.

Silence.

Look, I’ll just meet you out front.

Katie and I already had it planned. I was not taking him anywhere nice. There’s a crappy pizza place up the street, give him the ‘ol I don’t want to see you anymore (at this point) bing bang boom, leftover pizza for Katie and me to share. Hopefully hanging out watching a Merlin or something. Without this guy obviously.

Of course, the pizza place was closed, leaving Barfly and Captain Larry’s on Fort Ave as options. But as this guy became visibly more and more impatient after we circled the block ONCE, looking for parking, I suggested going to a local bar a little farther down that has a small parking lot. I don’t usually like going to this particular bar, but at that point, who cares. This is also after he kept making weird comments then ROARING with laughter, looking at me expectantly. The comments weren’t funny.

When I walked into the bar, it was clear the five people there (all employees, and the owner) were completely trashed. TRASHED. Drinking is fun, yes? But when you’re the only sober person there (not counting the guy I was with because at that point, I wasn’t sure what he was on) it’s uncomfortable and weird. We sat down to order some drinks, and one of the guys behind the bar decided it was a good time to vacuum. The bartender ambled up to us, a woman in her thirties with what was clearly a new boob job (seeing how intent she was in showing it off), decided to take advantage of the wind exhaust from the vacuum. She started gyrating around, dipping and flipping her hair back in front of us. After making a comment about this being the most awkward and uncomfortable moment of my life, I fled to the bathroom and started texting Katie.

DANI: Oh my God this is the most awful night ever.

DANI: I cannot even explain what is happening right now.

DANI: But it includes the mistake of going to (insert crappy bar name here) where everyone is completely trashed.

katie: oh, no! i’m sorry it’s going so badly!

katie: I expect stories!

katie: can you escape!?

katie: go pretend to throw up!

katie: dry heave!!

katie: fall off your bar stool!

katie: pretend you are a weasel and start running around on all fours!

katie: eat your napkin!

After I realized I couldn’t hide in the bathroom forever (stupidly not taking the easiest route, which was the door to the outside, between the bar and the bathroom) I grudgingly went back to the bar, angry I was stuck with this weirdo when I could have been watching a new Merlin, in bed, in my pajamas.

First, he asked why I had just gotten up and left, because he didn’t know where I was going. THEN he started a political conversation about the US, spewing on and on about the US involving itself in other countries where it’s not wanted. After making a few comments in response to THAT, he patronizingly told me I shouldn’t believe what everyone tells me. The evening plummeted. Nice Dani transformed into angry bear on a nest full of honey Dani. I perched on the stool and glared at him, daring him to make just one more comment and I would release the bear fury, throwing his drink across the bar and into his pompous, arrogant face.

When Moroccan man decided to pull out a transcript of our entire text messaging history, to prove I had said I was going to call him, and didn’t, I got up to leave. Take me home, this is the end of the night. And still, he continued to argue that I had told him America is the greatest place in the world (obviously did not) and that I had, in fact, told him I was going to call him and didn’t. When he pulled out the conversation transcript AGAIN, I got out of the car and walked the rest of the way home.

When he called the next day, I told him I did not want to see him again, and that this was not going to go any further. He proceeded to text me random things for the next several days.

Cultural difference or weirdo? Who knows? The only things for certain is I never want to see him again.

hostel bathrooms are sometimes full of (imaginary) terror.

The following story is one many of our readers may be familiar with, as it’s one I enjoy sharing despite the fact I nearly died of fright while living through it.

My boyfriend at the time, James, and I were in Bali with a group of friends during a Korean holiday (we all worked at the same school in Paju, and had decided to go on a group trip). We’d flown into Jakarta, and had made our way to one of the Gili Islands, Gili Trawangan. The island is so small there are no police, and miniature horses wearing bells and pulling tuk-tuks rein supreme.

We were staying in rather shifty hostel. My ex and I were sharing a room home to many spiders, with the kind of floor you don’t want to put your bare feet on. The bathroom was frightening. It was long and narrow, covered in dingy blue tile. There was one lightbulb dangling from a string, and it was damp and musty. The movie “Saw” managed to capture this hostel bathroom perfectly:

Minus the blood. Needless to say, I didn’t spend much time in it. Our first night, we got into bed and I put my glasses on the floor next to me. Legally blind, I can’t see anything clearly if it’s further than two inches from my face. This bothers me sometimes, as I worry about things creeping up on me in the darkness, and I won’t be able to see them coming.

I was fast asleep when James nudged me.

  • James (whispering): Wake up!
  • Me: Ehhhh
  • James: Katie, wake up!
  • Me: What?
  • James:There are two men standing in the doorway to our bathroom.
  • Me: WHAT?!
  • James: Zzzzzzzzz [had fallen back asleep]

After I’d determined James really was fast asleep and would be of no use if someone attacked, I lay like a corpse, hoping I was invisible to the men in the doorway. I didn’t want to risk any movement, so retrieving my glasses from the floor was out of the question. I lay awake the rest of the night, next to my snoring ex-boyfriend, petrified, expecting at any moment to be slaughtered. The next morning, when confronted, my ex had no recollection of waking up at all, and no idea what I was talking about.

don’t be creepy on public transportation.

If you’re interested in someone, it’s good to pursue them. However, if they show no reciprocated interest, do not continue trying to pursue them, especially if you’ve just met them. It will make them nervous and want to run away.

Conversation with aggressive man on metro (my thoughts in brackets):

  • Aggressive Man (AM): What are you reading? I’ve been watching you, and you’re really absorbed.
  • Me: Oh, um … The Hunger Games. It’s really interesting [watching me?].
  • AM: What’s it about?
  • Me: It’s about the world, post-apocalypse. The country is now divided into districts, ruled by the capital, and every year they hold the ‘hunger games’ where a boy and girl from each district is sent into an arena to fight to the death.
  • AM: You looked really into it.
  • Me: I am – it’s pretty intense [again - watching me?].
  • AM: It sounds fascinating.
  • Me: It’s good [stop standing so close to me. you are a stranger].
  • AM: Yeah, I bet. I mean, you looked like you were really enjoying it.
  • Me: Yes? [I'm not sure how many times I can tell him I enjoy the book].
  • AM: -Stares awkwardly-
  • Me: -Shifting from foot to foot and developing a twitch-
  • Me: [casting about for something to say to break the extreme awkwardness while slowly backpedaling until it's safe to run away] They’re actually making a movie about it, which is coming out sometime this spring.
  • AM:  Are you taking me to see it with you?
  • Me: Umm … [desperately trying to think of a non-awkward way to say absolutely not]
  • AM: I’d like to go see that with you.
  • Me: Well, I’m actually going with my boyfriend [there is no boyfriend].
  • AM: That’s okay – he can come with us.
  • Me: What?
  • AM: Here, give me your phone number.
  • Me: Umm .. [no intention of giving phone number]
  • Me: How about I take your phone number instead? [will never call but need a way to escape]
  • AM: Well, okay. 000-000-0000.
  • Me: Great, thanks …
  • AM: Call me! I want to hear more about that book!

Things to learn from this conversation:

  1. If you’re going to feign interest in something to try and hit on someone, do it well. It’s obvious if you don’t really care.
  2. It’s not advisable to tell someone you’ve been “watching them.” 
  3. If someone says they have a significant other (real OR pretend), leave them alone.
  4. If someone has plans with said significant other, do not invite yourself along.
  5. If someone doesn’t want to give you their number and takes yours instead, there is a 99% chance they will not call.
  6. Pay attention to body language – if someone is slowly shifting away from you, or becomes noticeably twitchy, they do not want you to keep talking to them.
  7. Don’t be creepy.

college boyfriends are crafty.

My college boyfriend had/has a slightly demented sense of humor. After discovering a horrificially foul pornographic photo which will remain unnamed, he thought I might appreciate seeing it for myself. I didn’t. Finding my reaction funny, he sent the link several more times until I asked him to stop. Instead of stopping, he got sneaky: he would change the text of the hyperlink to ensure I would click the link.

www.cutekittens.com
www.babyseal.com

I have to admit, it was clever. What normal human being wouldn’t click on a link that indicated it would send you to a photo of a baby seal?

Happy Friday, friends! Enjoy your weekend!

The Senegalese Surprise

Last May, I took a trip to Dakar, Senegal for an office launch my company had there. I felt like a bit of an ass, as my camera had to be setup in this cramped little corner surrounded by participant’s chairs, and there I sat crouched like a goblin taking video and photos at the same time. With my little t-rex arms I raised and lowered the camera while trying to not knock over the tripod where the video camera was perched.

As I performed my acrobatic equipment maneuvers, I noticed another fellow camera person, peering through the glass wall at me. Let’s call him … Paoul. We ended up chatting after the event, and planned to meet for dinner the next night. He seemed interesting, and had done a lot of work and travel across West Africa, and I guessed him to be about 30 or so. He thought I was 17; a premonition of what was to come.

We met up the next night and we ended up hanging out until 5 AM, going from pool hall to pool hall in Dakar, drinking local beer, and meeting up with various people along the way. One such person, let us call him the Crazy One, joined us around midnight. He seemed fairly normal at first, until it was apparent his sole job all night was to take as many photos of me as possible. I finally lost my temper and yelled at him to stop, which put an end to that. To the photos, not the emerging mental disorder.

We ended up back at my hotel by the pool, about an hour before my flight left. The Crazy One milled around in the background watching me creepily. I ignored him. Here, Paoul initiated an age guessing game. For him, not me. I don’t particularly care who knows how old I am, but for some reason, people like to play age guessing games with me. I am bad at guessing ages. I offend people. I think five year olds are ten and sixty year olds are eighty. I do not like these guessing games.

After losing patience with the insipid game, I guessed 30. He then told me he was 19 years old. I had been hanging out with a 19 year old all night. At the bar. At the pool hall. Drinking beer. All. Night. Long.

The end.

PS. The Crazy One found me on facebook. Here is sampling of recent messages:

12/28 kiss kiss kiss for u

1/5 hello my darling

1/29 dani i love u

don’t eat the chinchilla food.

I went to college my freshman year with a guy named Shidot (not his real name). We kept in touch on and off, even after we both transferred to different colleges, although we rarely saw each other in person. One weekend about two years ago, I was at my parent’s house and Shidot, who lived in Columbia, phoned me and asked if I wanted to hang out.

He arrived, and I greeted him at the front door. He stood awkwardly on the lawn about five feet away until I finally remembered my manners and asked him in. Once inside, he seemed really restless – roaming the house, picking things up, peering into boxes, handling my parent’s belongings very casually, like you might expect someone who’d been over to the house 1000 times would do. He even opened a box of cookies and began eating out of it.

After about half an hour of this strange roaming, peppered with awkward bits of conversation, we decided to go get coffee. On our way out the door, Shidot stopped in the family room to look at Ralph, our brother’s pet chinchilla. Ralph, an often surly creature, loves treats and I suggested Shidot feed her one. I handed him the container of sugar-coated fruit but instead of passing one to the chinchilla, he started popping the treats into his own mouth. I started laughing, thinking it was some sort of joke, but he just looked at me and kept eating them. I stood there, confused, for another minute, then diplomatically (I hope) confiscated the chinchilla treats and dragged him out the door.

I had imagined we’d go sit somewhere and talk over coffee, but as we passed a Home Depot, Shidot suggested we get coffee to go and walk around inside.The next hour and a half was spent walking around Home Depot with cups of take-out coffee, inspecting various doors, plants, and bins of nails and screws. Shidot made several comments when we first got there about wanting me to only walk on his right side, and asked me to move to accommodate him. Not being very knowledgeable about home improvement products, I didn’t know what to say or do, so I kept feigning interest in things: “Hey, look at that lawn hose! I didn’t know they came in orange!” or “Wow, there’s a lot of lumber here.”

Finally, we headed back to my parent’s house. I can fake interest in anything for awhile, but I’d hit my limit and if Shidot didn’t leave soon, I was going to crumple to the ground and start sobbing. We hit my parent’s driveway and I told Shidot I’d walk him to his car. As we arrived at his car, my parents drove by, on their way home from the grocery store. Instead of leaving, Shidot did an about face, saying he wanted to meet my parents. They were good sports, but he kept making odd comments and even my mom, the nicest human being to walk the planet, started to look uncomfortable.

Shidot decided he’d better get home. I walked him to his car (again), where we exchanged a clumsy goodbye hug. Instead of pulling back, as is proper in a hug, Shidot just stood there. I had already stepped back a bit and I was afraid, if I slowly backed away, like I would from an angry badger, it might be construed as rude, so I just stood there as well. Suddenly, Shidot leaned forward and kissed me on the mouth. As I stood there frozen, he told me he’d call me, then hopped into his truck and drove away. I haven’t answered his phone calls since.

The moral of the story is this: guys, you can do a lot of awkward things and most girls will be willing to give you a second chance. But don’t eat the chinchilla food.