Monday, January 07, 2008

Dangers real and imagined

I was alone this weekend again.

Mark attended his grandfather’s funeral in Ohio. We decided it was too long in the car (7-hours each way) and too much of a whirlwind (two days) for the girls, so he and his brother road-tripped together.

On Saturday, I met my sister-in-law, who also has two young girls, at a big indoor play area for kids. The girls spent nearly four hours playing in the mock, child-sized grocery store, fluttering around the baby doll nursery and digging in a huge sand pit.

At one point, I had to change Loaf. The facility had women’s and men’s bathrooms, plus a co-ed baby changing room with a toilet and sink. I headed there. The door had a latch lock, but I guess I didn’t push it through all the way because as I was setting up the changing table, a man walked in. But instead of saying, “oh excuse me,” and leaving, as any NORMAL fucking person would do, he just came right in and proceeded to wash his hands. Really. Really. Slowly.

By this time, I had Loaf on the changing table, but there was no way—NO WAY—I was going to take her diaper off her while this guy was there—it was too fishy. And creepy. He was standing at the sink with his back to us, but there was a large mirror over the sink that would give a clear view to my baby girl’s naked lower half. And I just had the feeling he was lingering. It was more than a little disturbing.

My mind was racing. Why did he come in at all?

Part of me wanted to just turn to him and say, “Excuse me dude, but WHAT THE FUCK? We’re in here. Go use the men’s room. Or just go back outside and wait your turn.”

But I didn’t. The polite, timid side of me, the side that doesn’t like to make a scene, the side that doesn’t want to draw attention to myself or look like a bitch, overruled. So I stood there, quietly stewing and waiting for this guy to leave on his own. When he finally did (it seemed like forever), I raced over and pushed the latch lock firmly through to the other side.

When I left the changing room, I looked for him. He was sitting with this family in the doll nursery. He was a very normal looking guy in a navy-blue v-neck sweater with a white t-shirt under it. He had two little girls and his wife—a cute redhead with long curly hair—was pregnant. They looked like picture perfect all-American family. And maybe they were, but I still say his behavior was odd. He is either completely oblivious to social mores, or is a pervert. I’m voting door #2. Sicko.

And yes, I'm completely pissed at myself for not speaking up and saying something. That is exactly the attitude that gets women into trouble. Everything you read tells you that if your instincts tell you something is weird, you should speak up, be direct, yell. But I had no voice in that bathroom and I am completely disappointed in myself because of it.

At home that night, we made grilled cheese and soup for dinner. I was still turning the episode over in my head a bit.

Now you must understand that when I’m alone in the house, I’m a huge wimp with an overactive imagination. I live on a rural, dark street where the homes are quite spread out. On the nights when Mark is out, my imagination has, at times, gotten the best of me.

There was the night, during a windstorm, that a huge tree limb fell on the roof and I called the police because I swore – SWORE – the loud thump on the roof could only be made by a serial killer preparing to drop down the chimney and kill me. Oy.

So there we were, sitting round the kitchen table eating our dinner, when Peanut says, with nothing but sunshine and light in her voice, “Mommy, I see eyes looking in the window.”

The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and every muscle in my body froze. My mind flashed first to the scene in The Amityville Horror when the bright red demonic eyes appear in the little girl’s bedroom and then quickly to the even more famous I see dead people. Or worse, was it the creepy guy from the bathroom? Did he somehow follow us home?

As Peanut sat there smiling, I slowly turned my head toward the window. Of course, there was nothing there but the inky, pitch-black night. I got up and flipped on the outside light. Nothing. The yard was empty. The gate closed.

“Spot still sees eyes, Mommy! Bright pink eyes!”

Spot is Blanket’s pet. An imaginary friend for both Peanut and Blanket who likes to hop along the side of our car when we drive and also apparently gets a rush out of scaring Mommy half to death.


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Blogger ryssee said...

JEEPERS that's creepy. What an ASS. Don't sell yourself short, sometimes NOT raising the alarm but keeping a watchful eye (or an evil one!) keeps the situation cool...which it did in this instance. It has for me as well in other odd circumstances. You did NOT just sit there and let it happen-this guy knew your hackles were raised. You stopped what you were doing, you were on the alert, the look was no doubt on your face, and this jackass saw it. I have NO doubt in my mind you would've raised holy hell if anything even weirder happened.
I'm so sorry this happened to you though, it must have been terrifying. It's one of those "Sliding Doors" moments (if you know this movie reference). You just don't know what would have happened if you did the other thing.
And Spot? He needs to explain to the girls that sometimes the eyes they see in the window are their own faces in the reflection. Or, Spot should be shot. No need to freak Mom out when Poppa's not home!

9:16 PM  
Blogger Rocas said...

I honestly don’t think that the guy was #2; I have seen a lot of people, male and female, who are just oblivious to proper decorum. But, you were absolutely 100% correct in waiting for the dude to leave. Always, Always, Always, better safe than sorry.

I also 100% know what you mean about being alone in the house. I am a six foot tall, decently in shape, low voiced male; but don’t think for one second that when I’m home alone overnight, that my imagination doesn’t go into warp drive, as my trusty 13 year old dog and I sleep, in the living room, with the doors fully locked, TV on and most lights on. It’s funny; I can get up and out of the house in the most God-forsakenest time of the night (I believe in the Paranormal circles it is referred to as ‘Dead Time’), walk outside and drive for miles in back country without seeing a soul. But get me in my own house all by myself…

6:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few years ago, right before the HP has his big gay camping weekend, we watched The Ring. And yes, his weekend away coincided with the timing of the "phone call" - I didn't sleep for 3 days.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Courtney said...

That gives me the creeps (especially the "I see eyes!"). But I think your instincts were right -- sounds very similar to my running in the park story, where nothing happened but the alarm bells went off. That guy's reaction is just off and I think you handled it very well.

11:35 AM  
Blogger evilpinkcupcake said...

ewwww creepy bathroom guy sounds like just that, a CREEP! I woulda gave hima what for, but that's just me, I am loud and usually obnoxious....

Sorry you had to go through that, and then be scared at home!

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely relate to your imagination. I am very much the same way. When I was a kid I was convinced that Jaws followed me home. I was so wrapped up in this imagination that I would even hear the music. It would get louder and faster as I got closer to home. I always made it safely, but it was always a close call. The "I see eyes" actually made my heart skip a beat! yikes!

4:48 PM  
Blogger Minnesota Matron said...

That is totally creepy AND rude. I took a self defense class and learned that if your instinctive hackles get raised, something is usually wrong. But hopefully the guy was just so utterly self-absorbed that he was oblivious, without a clue. Like rocas says, I have seen my fair share of folk who practically knock me over with nary a 'pardon.'

5:10 PM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

HG - I will never, never, never watch The Ring.

And Rocas - I do not need to know what Paranormal Circles are. I need no more fodder for my imagination to work with.

11:21 AM  

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