Why I don’t make eye-contact with strangers

I’ve had my share of happy-accidents with strangers.  No, not like, “rent-a-room-with-someone-you-don’t-know” or “smash-my-car-into-someone-else’s-then-become-best-friends”.  I mean, you start talking with someone and then realize you have a bunch in common and walk away feeling somewhat enriched because you met them.  That happens every so often.

And then, there are the other times.  The “other” times, she says with air quotes.

These times are far and few between, simply because I normally have douche-canoe radar. 😉  Or DCR, as I will call it.

On one occasion, I was standing in line at Starbucks with my beloved iPhone in hand.  I’ve got my headphones in, and this guy is standing behind me in the line that is so long that I almost forgot where I was.  But I’m addicted.  It is what it is.

So, we’re standing there.  I can feel him looking over my shoulder.  My DCR is going off.  Like, “Weeeeee—-ooooooo…Weeeeee—-oooooo..  Douche-canoe within striking distance.”  I don’t make eye-contact.  That’s always my fail-safe.  But, despite the fact that I have my headphones in and the music is so loud that you can hear it more than the 6 inches he is standing from me, he decides to say something.  I do it; the unthinkable.  I make eye contact.  And he says, “mmmmrrrffff, mmmrrrffff, mrrrffff.”  I can’t make it out because Van Halen is ripping it up in my ears.  So, I have this internal battle in my head for a second or two.

Bad Angel: Ignore him.  He looks like an ass.

Good Angel:  But you’ve made eye contact.  Now he knows you know how close he is.

Bad Angel: Of course he knows.  He’s in my Hollywood space.  No one is this close to anyone, unless they’re filming an episode of 24.  I couldn’t miss it unless I were in a coma.

Good Angel: He’s probably nice and obviously wants to talk with you.

*sigh*  Okay.  I take my head phones out and say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear what you said.”  He repeats something about iPhones being awesome.  Well… maybe this guy isn’t so bad, after all, if we share a mutual love for iPhones.  So we make idle chat for a moment or two.  The conversation fizzles itself out naturally.  I’m pleased.  Next up on the ole’ iPod: Black Eyed Peas.

Close-talker is making googly eyes at me, again.  So I take my headphones out, again.  And he says, “What are you listening to?”  I’m beginning to think he’s just coming on to me and but know how.  So I tell him what I am listening to.  Suddenly, he looks like he smelled a fart.  Like, total repulsion.  I say, “Oh?  Not a fan?”

It’s like a light switch went off in his head.  He looks like I just clubbed a baby seal in front of him.  This mix, in his eyes, of pure fury and disappointment.  He says, with total disdain, “I don’t listen to ‘Top 40’.”  Yeah, he uses air quotes, too.  I said, “Oh, well, I find that I prefer that stuff.  I’ll hear something that’s less popular and I like it, but that’s not very often.”  I say it sweetly.  But close-talker (still in my space) starts spewing about how stupid people can be.  “There’s nothing original about them.  They’ve just copied other artists and sold out to the man (no, he isn’t black, and I don’t feel like he should be calling anyone ‘the man’).”  I smiled and politely reply, “Well, to each his own, right?”  I put my headphones back in and before I can play my music obscenely loud to prove a point, he continues:

“It’s like we have a whole society of sheep that are just following the leader.  To their death.  You get it?  You’ll all just follow each other to the meat grinder. And then what?  Listen to the Black Eyed Peas in hell?”

Wow.  This guy’s got some serious issues.  It occurs to me that I should just disengage him. But now, I’m pissed.

Oh no, fucker.  Not today.

“Here’s the thing.  I get it that not everyone likes top 40 music.  There are good aspects and bad aspects of it.  But I wouldn’t compare what I listen to, to the path to hell.  I don’t believe that the Black Eyed Peas are leading me to any meat, let alone a meat grinder.  Here’s the truth, if your underground artists were so great, they’d be popular and on my iPhone.  But instead, they live in the unknown history of millions of ‘artists’ who have tried and failed, too.  So, whatever.  Like it, or don’t.  But I’d venture to say this conversation is done.”  With that, I picked up my coffee and left.  I made sure to blare Katy Perry (the most top-40-stupid-artist I have on my iPod) while I drove away.

The moral of the story?  I should have listened when the radar went off.  This guy was a total douche-canoe.  He got me this time.  It won’t happen again.

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