Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Ring(let)

Most women know what I'm talking about when I say that there are some men out there who just give you the creeps.

One such man occupies an office around the corner from mine. From afar, he appears quite average, in his fifties, with thin, grey hair, a slightly elongated face, average height, average build.

Upon closer inspection, though, things start to lean a little bit in the Odd Direction. There's something about his walk. It's not normal. It's stilted. He walks like a penguin.

Maybe he has a bad back, I don't know, but it looks....weird.

Meeting him in the hallway is always a trip into eeriness. Understand that there's a certain protocol that people are expected to adhere to in these situations, just like on an elevator. When meeting someone who's face is familiar but nothing else is known about that person, it is normal to smile, maybe issue a polite comment, such as "Good Morning," and to continue on your way.

Some people enjoy thumbing their noses at this unwritten code of conduct. I have a friend who will stand right next to me on the elevator. He does it just to annoy me and to amuse himself. Fine, I understand that.

What this guy does, though, is just....strange. I'll reflexively glance up as I approach him. I'll give my Standard Protocol Smile, and he smiles back, but his smile is different. It does not say, "Good Morning." It says, "If you only knew what I'm thinking."

Unfortunately, I have a feeling I do.

Then when I get closer, I see his eyes going to meet mine, and I think he's going to say, "Good morning," or some other generally accepted greeting, but he doesn't. He only looks at me, and a nearly imperceptable smile passes over his face. We pass each other, and I'm left with this sickening feeling that he's having some less-than-innocent thoughts about me.

Ew.

I ignore this man and avoid encounters with him as much as possible. We don't work in the same group, so this is usually easy to do.

Except in the coffee room.

Our coffee room is small, too small for more than one or two people to occupy at one time. And I have impeccable timing in the mornings; I almost always arrive just in time to have missed the last cup of coffee in the carafe, so I have to make a fresh pot.

That is what happened yesterday morning. So I was standing at the sink, going through the motions of putting fresh coffee in the basket, pouring in cold water, etc., etc., when I felt this presence behind me. A quick glance revealed that it was Mr. Creepy standing at the doorway.

"Good morning," Mr. Creepy said.

So he does talk.

Not wanting to be completely rude, I replied, "Good morning."

This was followed by a silence that was only broken by the running water at the sink. I could feel his eyes on my back. At least he was waiting in the doorway, and not hovering over my shoulder. At any rate, I started rushing to finish what I was doing so I could leave.

And then he ratcheted up his Creep Factor. "I like the ringlets in your hair," he said, his voice oozing like the excess oil on his forehead.

"Omigod," I thought, "Just don't touch me! DO NOT touch me!" Eeeew! My mind was half-screaming -- because I was really grossed out -- and half-laughing -- because I knew this was going to make a really funny story to file beside my friend Cyndi's story about the date who ate mashed potatoes with his fingers.

I said, "Thank you," then finished pouring the water and left.

I think they had to use a special solvent to get my skid marks off the floor.