The Tall Indian Flatterer: An Unsettling Encounter
I’m walking toward the bus stop (construction orange shirt, black vest, burnt orange waist-scarf, brown plaid pants, no shoes, and a Mafia-like hat in brown gunny sack material) after work. The bus stop is crowded and there’re several people on the grass, in the shade, buying tacos, etc.
A fat Hispano on the bench catches my eye as I walk to a standing spot and asks me, “Do you have any change?” When I answer in the negative, he looks at me disbelievingly.
I tell him, “No, really. I don’t. I just poked my head into a bakery, picked out pastries and went to pay for them. When I found out they only took cash, I had to leave without the pastries.” I take out my wallet to pull out my bus pass and show him the empty billfold. “Really. It’s empty.”
He kind of glares at me as I step into the parked bus.
I sit down in my favorite spot and wait for the bus to lurch forward. A tall man walks up to me and says, “I wasn’t trying to be mean. I was just telling you that you’re beautiful.”
I’m confused, but he does look awfully like the man who I just finished talking to, so I say, “I’m sorry. I thought you asked me for change.” He sits down in the seat in front of me and starts praising me, complimenting me on my looks, calling me “beautiful creature” and such.
I’m genuinely flattered and yet still a little confused. I say something like, “Well, my husband thinks so too.’
He just smiles knowingly, kindly, and says, “I’m sure he does. He’s a lucky guy.”
He then stands up and walks toward the back of the bus. He mutters something else at me and flashes me a backwards “ILoveYou” sign and waves it like he was at a rock concert. I laugh lightly, good-naturedly and he grins, then walks out of my sight. I then look out the window, because we’re still sitting at the bus stop I got on at, and I feel confused; the guy who asked for change is still sitting right where he was before, his fat still hanging off the edge of the bench.
I’m doubly confused now. I didn’t think I’d made eye contact with anyone else besides the benched fatso. I didn’t hear anyone else talking to me. How did this guy think I was ignoring him? Did I accidentally glare at him? I do that sometimes, but I don’t think I made eye contact with anyone else…
I feel confused the whole way, though I’m trying to shake it off; he was obviously just being complimentary and admiring. That’s it. However, I catch myself hoping that he gets off before I do so that he doesn’t see where I live. My mind briefly entertains the frightening thought of him following me home, of knowing which apartment I live in… And then I shake it off again.
He’s sitting in the back, jabbering away. I’m on a bus, full of people. The bus driver knows me by face and would let me get on the bus without a pass if I wanted to; he’s the fatherly type; he makes me feel safe.
I hear the signal ding for someone to get off; we’ve stopped at almost every stop, as usual. The guy climbs down from the back of the bus and says something else to me.
He gets so close, bent over at the waist in a standing position, that if he wanted to, he could lunge forward and kiss me. But I laugh lightly again as he says what I hope is a farewell and leaps off the bus.
As we drive away, I think that he looks Native American; Native Americans look similar to Hispanics when glanced at by a blind girl. But still… I feel endangered by the encounter, like I’ve been violated or raped. And yet I can’t exactly figure out why. I feel justified somehow when I notice that he got off in front of the State Liquor Store; in my fear, I think that he could have been a drunk or someone living on the fringes of society; someone like that is easier to be scared about.
I’m still confused, even while writing this. I’m glad my roommate was home when I got home or I probably would have curled into a ball of fear and been paranoid and scared for a good half hour, hoping this guy wouldn’t pound on my apartment door.
It makes me glad I have a hidden room blocked off by clothes in the back of my closet.