I’m taking a month-long online writing course. Thank God for online courses. I can read lectures and do homework when I feel up to it, and if I’m not up to it for several days it’s still OK. So, I’d had this unfinished homework assignment lying around since early last week – not because it was difficult or I felt worse than usual, but because I just don’t get out much. The assignment involved watching other people interact in social situations, watching their body language, how groups formed and re-formed, etc. Yeah, that doesn’t really happen in the U-Scan at Kroger, which is pretty much where all my social interaction occurs these days. I was also supposed to invade someone’s personal space, preferably at a meal, moving my purse, my water-glass into their space, and watch their response. Again, I don’t get out much, and the only option I could think of was an upcoming writers’ group meeting where we often go out to lunch afterwards, but a couple of the other members are taking the same class so we’d probably just end up sitting in each other’s laps in Appleby’s laughing hysterically.
So Plan B was to do my homework at a college football game. I may have mentioned (like, all the time) that my eldest son is in The World’s Most Dangerous Drumline in a marching band at a small university a couple of hours away. So I go to the home games to watch the halftime show and visit my son (because he doesn’t come home often enough because he’s blissfully happy at school with his wonderful fiancée and the classes he loves and I’m kind of needy like that) and I don’t understand football, nor do I care to, so the football portion of the day is great for conversation and people-watching.
The stands were packed since it was Parent’s Weekend, so I could tell right away that invading someone’s private space was not going to be difficult. I ended up choosing the three college girls sitting behind me. I wiggled backwards on the bleacher, stretched waaay back, rolled my shoulders so my elbows nearly poked them, and then stretched my arms to the side and way back before using them to gesture in an extreme and animated fashion while I talked to my thirteen-year-old, who was ignoring me. My husband, of course, had turned the other way and started pretending he didn’t know me from the first wiggle. It was interesting, because the girls, who had been loud and gossipy and leaning forward before, were much quieter, and when I snuck a look back, had backed up on their bleacher seats as much as they could and were sitting straight up, leaning sideways towards each other to talk. Homework partially done – yay me!
But then the team mascot came into the stands and was having a picture taken with a little boy several rows below us. One of the girls behind me yelled down to the mother and asked if she’d send Beaker up for a picture when they were finished. As I watched, the mascot gave the boy a hug, waved ‘bye, and took a couple of steps up the bleachers before he saw who had requested him. He stopped, put a hand on his hip, and with an exaggerated wave of dismissal walked back down the bleachers and out of sight. Stunned, I turned to the girl behind me and said, “Oh, my God, you just got dissed by Beaker! I can’t believe it!” I just felt so bad for her, and here I’d been torturing her earlier by invading her personal space. I was sure she’d been traumatized. My husband was practicing being invisible, since he was appalled that a forty-five year old mom in bifocal sunglasses would use the word “dissed” to a college girl she’d never met before. But, hey, that’s just how I roll.
Well, we struck up a conversation (the girl wasn’t much into the football portion of the entertainment, either) and it turned out that the girl was Beaker’s best friend. She herself hadn’t even known he was Beaker until she’d guessed it when he’d promised to see her at the first game and she hadn’t seen him, but had gotten an unsolicited Beaker-hug. She told me his name, but only after I promised not to share it under penalty of death. I will take it to my grave. Waterboarding, electrical shock, sticks under my fingernails – I won’t give up his secret identity. I just hope no one tries any torture that involves snakes, though. Snakes are my weakness. One trip through the Herpaquarium and I’m likely to spill everything I know. I doubt this is one of those secrets international intelligence agencies or random terrorist factions are interested in, though. But it makes me feel pretty special. I may just have to start invading people’s personal space more often
BTW, I cropped the hell out of this picture because I looked enormous in it. And let me tell you, when you look enormous next to an eight-foot eagle it’s time to step away from the Oreos.
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