i was exiting the red line at hollywood and vine late yesterday afternoon, enjoying the tunes from one of my enormous transit-minded playlists on my ipod, when i noticed i was behind a very slow young man who was intently pressing keys on some sort of communication device (it looked like an electronic dictionary, but i'm guessing it was some kind of pda/pager thing that are all the rage these days). he was slowing the works--lingering too long at the top of the escalator, meandering through doorways, head down deep in his gadget. finally, when we hit the daylight of hollywood boulevard i broke free from behind him and veered to my left.
but there he was, next to me, motioning.
"what?" i asked, pulling out my earbuds.
"what time is it?" he said.
i pulled my cellphone from my bag. "four o'clock," i told him, still walking.
"are you sure? really?" he asked.
what was this? i wondered. "yes," i said. "it's 3:58."
"so where are you going?" he asked.
oh no. he wanted to chat with me. my suspicious nature went into overdrive. he knows i have an ipod and a phone, i'm thinking. i wants to see where i'm going, he might follow me, he's already walking next to me, and...oh dear god, i hate this! i hedged and hemmed a little.
"you goin' to work?" he asked.
that one was easy. "no, not going to work," i said.
"you live around here?"
another easy one. "no."
"you hang out in hollywood often?"
"um, not really."
at this point i really began to wonder what was up. people don't often approach me, and this out of the blue kind of grilling makes me nervous. i tried to think of my gal-pals--what would they do? some would be as evasive as me. some would instantly know smart replies, or fire off questions of their own. some would have never let the conversation drag on this long. some would have given them their phone numbers in a heartbeat, not out of attraction, but just out of a sort of kindness. and me? me... i didn't know if he was hitting on me or about to hit me. a sad state of affairs.
"what kind of work do you do?"
i took the approach of intellectual superiority at this point: "i'm a college professor," i said, stretching the truth of my job as grad student/t.a. into something a little more illustrious.
"wow, cool. where at? college, university?"
i named the system, but not the campus.
"what do you do in your free time?"
"i don't have a lot of free time."
"where are you going right now?"
"i'm going to meet a friend," i lied. i wasn't. i was going to see the aristocrats
all by my lonesome at the arclight.
"by the way, my name is j______" he said.
i gave him my first name, too. i always mean to lie about that one, like at jamba juice when they ask for my name i yearn to say "jennifer aniston" but "lindsay" always comes sputtering out. i'm a good actress, but a bad liar.
"we should go to the movies sometime," he offered.
well, there went the giant cartoon lightbulb over my head. he was, indeed, trying to pick me up, having employed the annoying and unnerving twenty questions method. it was almost a relief to finally know what it was all about. he was a sweet guy, he told me where he worked (which is for a noble cause, i felt, and even something after my own heart, which i did not tell him). but he was a kid, and i wasn't attracted to him in the least, and i was so thrown by his conversation from the get-go that i was beyond flirtation from the moment i said "four o'clock."
"oh, i don't know about that..." i replied.
"you're married," he said.
"no, but i have a boyfriend," i lied. it felt so funny saying it. with the guys i see i never get to say it then, and it just felt so ironic and odd to be able to say it when it wasn't even the slightest bit true. suddenly i invented an entire life for myself, should the questioner have continued to ask: the boyfriend's name, how long we'd been together, that we lived together... that was the easiest part for me; imagining the utterly untrue. it was getting those words out that felt like i was spitting rocks.
we'd reached vine street, and i needed to hang a left to head down to sunset and he needed to keep going. we said goodbye, and he buried his face back in his keypad gadget while i put back in my earbuds. i thought again about what had happened, why my response was so distrustful, and what my other friends would have done. and how sad it was that this happens so infrequently that i'm flummoxed every single time.the aristocrats
, incidentally, was a great movie. and no one came on to me on the way back home. it's kind of nice to have things back to normal. i don't like to lie while i walk.
*oh and i posted this via flickr because blogger wasn't letting me in. this pic is one of the portraits i took of myself recently, mainly to see how my new eyeshadow looked. not bad, huh?