08 July 2011

one truth and some lies.

tonight i had a meeting for my job downtown and i took the light rail.  shortly after i got on, a man in his early-fifties who smelled of alcohol sat down next to me.  he wasn't drunk, but he was definitely buzzed, and he asked me about the book i was reading.  somehow, this evolved into a conversation about relationships.  and to be honest, i was mostly okay at this point in the conversation.  i always feel really out of place giving people relationship advice because i don't really feel like i have any authority on the subject, but as long as we were talking about his experiences and he was asking questions for himself, i was fine appeasing him and giving him my best, honest answers.  he kept asking me if i was being real with him, that i wasn't just saying stuff to make him happy, and i told him that although i tend to be a people-pleaser, i tell the truth.

but then he got more touchy, said things that i don't feel comfortable sharing, and used words i don't like, especially when they are mistakenly used to describe me.  and to my greatest dread, he asked me the worst questions any stranger could ask me - if he could take me out to dinner and show me "a good time," what my name was, and could he have my phone number.

i had two minutes until my stop; two minutes to try and get out of this conversation safely.  so what did i do?  i told him the truth, that i was going to work right then and so i was not available for any "good times."

and then i lied to him.  i gave him a name that wasn't mine, and i told him that i had a boyfriend who wouldn't appreciate it if i gave my number to someone else.  there was some arguing on his part over whether or not i can keep secrets, and how dating a boy is completely different from dating a "man," and other things that made me even more uncomfortable, but we were slowing at my stop and i stood up to get my bike.  i told him it was nice to meet him (half-lie) and to have a good night, and i left, but not before he looked at me in a way that made me feel so unbelievably embarrassed, i can't even describe it beyond that.

since i've lived in arizona, i've had pretty interesting encounters with some very colorful people.  there was the homeless man on mill avenue who straddled the line between appropriate and inappropriate touching on a first meeting, the crazy man on the bus who kept asking me where i lived, and the guy i kind of knew, but mostly didn't, who told me some seriously heavy and personal things i could have lived quite happily without knowing.

but i've never lied to any of them, and i'm really bothered that i lied to this man tonight.  i won't ever see him again, so there's no reason why i had to lie to him.  and even though there were plenty of people nearby and i'm pretty capable of defending myself, i was legitimately scared and i guess my fight-or-flight response pointed more towards flight in the moment.

but in a weird way, i'm kind of glad it happened.  before the conversation got scary, it was good.  i needed to hear some of the things that we were talking about.  and the good thing about being a writer is that you can turn anything into writing material.

i just wish some blessings came in packages that didn't make me feel so darn uncomfortable.

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