Yesterday I met up for coffee with S. under a picture of some motherfucking creepy bunny people, a picture so simultaneously creepy and awesome that I wished I had $500 to take it home with me right that second, where I would then, promptly, put it in a room where I wouldn’t have to look at it.
Anyway, so there we’re sitting talking about shit when a guy walks in and is standing way too close to everyone’s tables. If you’re a regular patron of the Starbuck’s on 21st where that guy comes in and asks for money or chases people through the parking lot asking for money, it had that kind of vibe. I clutched my purse closer, but S. felt pretty confident that though dude was way too close to people’s tables, he was just looking for an outlet for his laptop.
Fast forward ten minutes or so and the table next to us opens up and he comes over, sits down, and does indeed plug in his laptop. And I’m feeling slightly bad for thinking of him as a creepster. So, now, there’s a big bench under the rabbit-masked people with two tables along it. We’re at one. He’s at the other. He’s sitting right next to S. We continue to chat, he seems to be working a little bit. Then, at some point, I glance over and he is just full on staring at S. I mean, looking at her like there is no one else in the place. He’s not looking away. He’s not glancing around the room. He’s just watching her.
And now I’m watching him. My first thought is that maybe he’s staring past her out the window on the other side of the room, you know, like kind of staring off into space, past her? But no, his eyes are focused and he’s looking right at her, not two feet from him, not past her.
My next thought is, how long can a dude stare at a person like that? Like just as a matter of curiosity, I wonder how long he can go on. I wonder how long he was watching her before I noticed. But then, he just doesn’t stop. We’ve moved from talking about some cool thing she’s doing to some cool thing I’d like to try back to some experience she’s had trying something similar and he’s still staring. He’s staring at her so intently that when I’m like “We need to go.” and I point with my eyes over at him and she gets a nervous, uncomfortable grin on her face, he doesn’t even glance over at me to see what she’s reacting to.
We regroup by the bathroom and I tell her that we need to somehow need to make it less clear how near to the coffee shop she lives, just for my own peace of mind. So, we sit outside for a while and then we both get in my car and take a big, long loop around East Nashville, before heading back to her place in a way that doesn’t go by the coffee shop.
I was kind of embarrassed because she also had gotten a creepy vibe from him, but hadn’t noticed the staring, and I wasn’t sure if I was overreacting or not. But it was like some fight or flight instinct kicked in. The longer he watched her, the more my heart started racing and I was like “We have to get the fuck out of here.”
It was weird. The whole thing. Maybe he just wanted our spot and was prepared to make us uncomfortable enough to leave? I don’t know.