It is my belief that the most rejected and disconsolate men have made appearances at my bookstore. I will tell you now why I believe this. While, I admit I can be utterly adorable at times, I would never in any way describe myself as sexy or overly proficient in the the Bewitching of Men department. Nontheless, this seems to not matter one iota where the creepers of my store are concerned. Here is a short overview of just a few of them:
The Skin Man: I should point out- this one wasn’t a customer until AFTER he met me. In the times when I was employed with two jobs, my schedules were such that every day I worked I had 3 hours in between jobs. This wouldn’t have been much of an issue, except for the fact that I lived 45 minutes away from the town my jobs are in. So I got to figure out ingenious ways in which to spend my extra time. Luckily, there is a giant Caribou Coffee in the parking lot of my mall, so that is where I wasted time the majority of the winter months. I would bring a book and order a large Turtle Mocha, with milk chocolate, extra hot, with no Snickers. (I don’t like chunks in my beverages.) One afternoon, I was reading a book which was ,in hindsight, basically an adult version of How To Train Your Dragon, when an older man sat in the easy chair next to me. I realize that most people that venture into a coffee stable and stay are usually of the Yuppie variety, with their bluetooths, (blueteeth?) and laptops, but this man was just a man in his early 60’s with no digital devices to occupy him.
At first, I paid him no mind, as I was exerting myself trying to get into my dragon book, but then he asked what I was reading, so I began to converse with him. Now. my mother always taught me never to talk to strangers, but having worked in customer service since I’ve been old enough to have a job has kinda eroded that thinking out of my brain. The man introduced himself and started began telling me about climbing mountains or something equally interesting, so I deemed him as a man with stories to tell. As he rambled on, I was distracted by his tale when I noticed he kept looking at my arm, which made ME look at my arm, thinking a bug had alighted upon it or fuzzies had gotten stuck on it from my coat. The man then halted in the middle of his sentence and said, “You have really nice skin.” Warning bells went off in my head immediately, as I recalled a much quoted line from a blockbuster movie, (“It rubs the lotion on it’s skin; It does this whenever It’s told”) and I judged myself to be having coffee face-to-face with a Buffalo Bill type. His observation,(while somewhat flattering in a skeezy way) was so odd I didn’t know how to respond so I just said, “Thank you, oh my, I must depart to work now.” I skedaddled outta there faster than a farmer with a case of the hershey squirts.
A few hours later, I was in the safety of my very public bookstore, when the Skin Man made an appearance. I thought back to our conversation and realized I had mentioned working in a used bookstore, and since we are the only one in town, I suppose he wouldn’t have had to be overly brilliant to figure out where I was. He smoothly looked around for a few minutes and asked me book-related questions, then said it again, “You really do have the most beautiful skin.” While I was imagining how I would escape from the deep well he was sure to put me in, he placed a $10 bill on my counter and said, “That’s for you, because you have entertained me.” And he left before I ever got a chance to say, “You can’t pay me for my skin! It holds my muscles in and I need it!” I never saw him again. Now tell me that wasn’t weird.
Next, Married Guy: a very attractive tall man with curly hair who would come into my bookstore quite frequently and actually ask about books. Being the friendly Book Lady that I am, when pretty men who read books come in, I feel it is my duty to help them find what they are looking for. Unfortuneately, after he realized I wear high heels, he was no longer looking for books. He would, after that, come in to see what shoes I was wearing under the guise of looking for Dragonlance books. Yes, of course I love it when people notice my shoes- I am, after all, an attention whore. It wasn’t creepy until I was walking back from the park one day, whena car zoomed up next to me and stopped. It was Married Guy. Without a shirt. Now, forgive for this observation, but when a man is driving a mini-van that has toys from his kids dangling from the rear-view mirror, and his cell phone is ringing with a call from his wife, no ab muscles are going to make me say, “Hey, come on over to my place.” When I mentioned the absence of a shirt, he said, “Well, I saw you walking so I took it off.” To which I replied, “Because you thought I could use it as a parasol?” He then informed me that he was married with kids (which I already knew) and that he would never do anything to jeopardize that. I still don’t get why he felt the need to inform me so, as I never once gave the impression that I needed his half-nude body crushed against me. Anyhoo, I said, “Good, go home to them and put your shirt back on.” and bid him goodbye. I crossed the street and went into my apartment building.
A week later, Married Guy showed up at my store again, flirty as always. He informed me that he had been to my apartment building looking for me and spoken with some of my neighbors. WTF?! This is by far the most stalkerish behavior I have encountered. I told him he’d best not come to my building anymore, as he was married and I had my Rockstar. And furthermore, if he wanted to continue coming to my store, he was going to have to buy a book. He bought a book. For the next few months he would show up occassionally stating how hot I was and how he wanted to “rip my panties off and do me.” Perhaps I should have called the Policia, but he was never physically threatening, except for the few times he showed up buzzing my apartment, to which I responded by pretending I wasn’t home. He finally got the point.
Cabinet Maker Guy: This was the first man to approach me after I started working at the bookstore. I was working evenings, and he would come in and just LOOK at books for hours at a time.(which alot of people do.) On one of these occassions, I asked him if there was anything I could help him find, and he began conversing with me, much the same way as the Skin Man did. He told me he was a cabinet maker and bla bla bla. When it was getting close to closing time, I told him if he wanted to buy anything he better cuz I was closing up. He then asked if he could give me his number. This was when I was yet married, and I let him know that my hubby woudn’t be very happy if I had the phone number of a strange man. The man said, “But I thought we just had a very good conversation, and I just want to talk, so I’m going to just leave my number for you.” As I was protesting, he wrote his number down and left. I threw it away.
A few weeks later, I was closing on a Saturday night, bending down to shelve a book on the bottom shelf, when I turned around and had the shit startled outta me by this man standing mere inches away from me. He said, “Hi, I was at a bachelor party and decided to walk over here and see if you were here.” My response? “So you left a bachelor party where you were having a good time to walk over to see if the married girl at the bookstore was working?” Yeah, the creepiest part is that it was closing time and he wouldn’t leave. I had a nightmare about him that night.
This post has carried on much too long now, and I am only beginning to get started. I am aware that my friendly, flirtatious nature may be what gets me into these situations, but I have always been clear that I have (before) a husband or a boyfriend, which does NOT deter these men. The only thing good that has come out of any of this is that I got paid $10 for having “really nice skin.”