donovan always used to tell the story of how, hearing pearl jam's "jeremy," for years he thought the lyric "violence" was "violins." writing about violence now, i remember that.
it's like there are only so many stories you can hold back. my max is apparently one. so now the other one-- the one from college-- is bubbling up begging to be dealt with. and i don't wanna.
this isn't that story, but it's another, smaller one i'd nonetheless like to get out.
i had this bad date in august. the date version of the lobster in the pot, where there are all these weird things that happen that, individually, don't seem like deal breakers, but they add up to something from which, in retrospect, it clearly would have been wise to run.
i've been fortunate. i've not had a lot of dates where i leave grateful that i wasn't murdered. but this was one.
i told a few friends about it at the time, that very night even.
i immediately ghosted that man on tinder.
a week later, when i got a message from him, i deleted tinder from my phone.
but i've known for the last three months that that man knew my full name and where i worked and he knew my boss at the bookshop.
i've known for the last three months that, at any moment, he might come to my workplace.
yesterday was supposed to be about telling KBG about the thing i've been processing from college. we had a phone date scheduled for after i worked an event at the bookshop.
a poetry event. which i knew was dicey.
i'd told P this last week, that this weird thing happened with this guy who i knew knows our boss and that i really didn't want to be in a room with him again and i hoped he wouldn't be at this event but i thought the likelihood was high here because, from what i remember of our conversation that night, i suspected this type of event was the reason he knows our boss in the first place.
and lo! who walks in the door? that man.
i don't know what my face did. an eyebrow may have lifted, but i felt like i was in control of it for once. i felt like, in that moment, i somehow constructed the iciest version of my face that has ever existed. and i wore that face whenever i felt his eyes on me for the rest of the night.
let me tell you, it is actively exhausting to ice someone out whilst working retail and being paid to project warmth and enthusiasm.
when this man stood in front of the till and asked how i've been, i gave him the coldest, most brusque "fine" i could muster, then projected all of my warmth and enthusiasm into the project of printing a sign to dissuade customers from loudly opening the door during the poetry reading.
when this man repeatedly turned in his seat to make eye contact with me across the room, i projected warmth and enthusiasm vaguely into the distance, making it 1000% clear that warmth and enthusiasm did not extend to him.
when this man gave one last glance while leaving the shop, clearly trying to catch my eye, i projected warmth and enthusiasm at the customer standing in front of me, buying a book.
it wasn't until i got home and locked the door that i realized, since that man walked in the door of the bookshop three hours before, i'd been holding my breath.