Thursday, June 14

i see people staring

I was recently selected as one of three hundred people in my state to participate in a national study on alcohol and drug use. I was selected at random, in case you were wondering.

"I'm gonna be a statistic!" I announced cheerfully to Mountain Guy.

What followed was a little less exciting: a three hour long interview wherein I was asked, in great detail, about my habitual use of minimal alcohol and a once-every-five-months cigarette. I'm fairly certain I had to answer twenty questions about the one mixed drink, as per my average, that I had this month.

Most questions were easy, but when we got to what I assume was the mental health section, the interviewer tossed me this curve ball:

"Do you frequently feel that people are staring at you?"

Hmmm. Now that isn't so easy. I realized immediately that the question was aimed at identifying some sort of paranoia, but in truth, not only do I frequently feel that people are staring at me...I'm pretty sure they are!

And I've got proof beyond the voices in my head. Mountain Guy has noticed it, too.

"Man, you are popular today," he remarked after leaving a store recently.

"You notice people staring at me?" I asked excitedly, as if I were asking if he also saw the zombies picking out pineapples in the produce section. Sometimes I forget I'm not the only one in my world.

"Yeah," he said.

Suddenly, I had so many questions. "Does it bother you? Are you embarrassed? Would you rather walk ten steps behind me?"

On that last one, he looked at me like he sometimes does, much like a parent looks at a disobedient child when disapproval and amusement are fighting for the upper hand.

"No," he continued, "I like to watch the way that you handle it. I like that you take the time to talk to people."

But I'm intrigued by how other people see me. Not so much strangers, but the people who frequently walk next to me.

With sexy symmetrical boyfriend
Because when I see a photo of myself, in all seriousness, I find myself staring, too. Video footage is even worse. I'm almost transfixed. Man, I look like such a freak, I think to myself. Then I look at my boyfriend and my friends, and wonder how I managed to have such good-looking friends, and such a sexy and symmetrical boyfriend. How can they even be seen with me?

Particularly Mountain Guy, who feels a little nervous around people even when they aren't staring. For an introvert, he couldn't have picked a worse girlfriend. Come to that, sometimes I think I couldn't have been a worse candidate for all the attention. But God is funny like that. 

And before you sit down to write me a self-esteem building email, let me reassure you that I am only left to conclude I must have the best personality on the planet. Yes, the inflated ego soars again. Well, Quasimodo might have one on me. But seriously, how else do you explain all my popularity?

I really can let my imagination run away with itself, and before I know it, I'm living in a bell tower in Paris.

Paranoia? Nah.