Monday, November 15, 2010

Five Feet of Crazy

A few weekends ago, I went to a conference in LA. I got up at 5 AM. Three other people met me at my house by 6. On a Saturday. Our plan was to be in LA by 8:30 when the conference started...and return back at 3:30 when the conference ended.

4 hours of driving
6 hours of conference
1 hour of lunch

This blog has nothing to do with the conference. This blog is about how I could have been murdered.

***

During the morning, she came into one of the sessions I attended. I noticed her because she was wearing a grey muumuu. With a belt. And red shoes. Her hair was salt and pepper...and she was short. Very short. About five feet of short. What I noticed most about her were her eyes. They darted and wouldn't focus. They would look at you without looking. She made me feel uncomfortable...so I didn't talk to her. Yet.

***

After driving all morning and having no break, by the time lunch came around, I was HUNGRY. I was in a courtyard, distracted by thirst, by hunger...refilling my ice tea (why did I need more ice tea???) when I felt her. I could feel those darting eyes looking at me and they made me stop...I shit you not, her eyes made me stop walking. Dead. In my tracks.

Her muumuu flowed in the light breeze of the afternoon as she quickly shuffled her little red shoes toward me. Our eyes were locked, I couldn't move, and I found myself being more thankful for a belt than I had ever been in my entire life. Without her belt...and that steady breeze....shudder.

She only came up to my nipples. And her darting eyes looked up at me as we spoke for the first time in our lives:

"Are you from San Diego?" she oddly asked.

I didn't know, then, why she was asking. Like I said...I had never spoken to this person before in my life. In our morning session, we did have to introduce ourselves...and I instantly tried to remember Did I say I was from San Diego...or is this crazy-ass lady stalking me? What did I say? What do I do? This is really odd.

But all I managed was "Yes."

Before I could even get to the "S," in "Yes," she had asked me...and my mind swirled:

Who is this lady? Do I know her? That is an hour from here! There is something not right about her. Why do these things always...always happen to me?

But all I managed again was "Yes" in retort to her request: "I live in Irvine. Can you give me a ride home?"

I think what frightened me the most was how much she was not frightened of me. How many women walk up to some guy at a conference and ask if he can drive them an hour south? So this started to get me worried Maybe she isn't scared of me because she is going to kill me??? Rape me??? Steal my car??? Never trust a little old lady in a muumuu (with a belt)!!! So there I was...a foot taller and a hundred pounds heavier...and I felt totally nervous. So I did the only thing I could do to protect myself, pass the buck onto my friends:

"Oh, you know...I actually have three other women with me in my car. We should check with them first."

And I walked her over to my carmates, and introduced her as the person we could be driving to Irvine (unless anyone had an issue of being overcrowded)...but my hopes for one of them to put up a stink failed. They all smiled as she walked away...and I was asked where I met my new girlfriend in the grey muumuu, belt, and red shoes.

"I...uh...well...I was getting ice tea...and...well...she...so...I..."

So. I drove her home.

***

When we got to my car, I suggested everyone put all their bags in the trunk...mostly because I didn't want any secret knives, guns, ropes, or other muumuus in my backseat.

Then the story telling began...and what a story teller she was. She wanted to know if we knew a student who she used to know...who now lives and works in TJ. All of us said no...but she told us about him for thirty minutes...ten of which were her trying to spell his name: "His last name is S...A...E...N...Z...Do you know him....no...wait...it's S...A...I...N...Z...have you read his columns...no...wait..." On and on she went.

During the ride, it came out that her husband had dropped her off, but didn't want to stay...so she would just find her way home...somehow...from LA...to Irvine. True love there....what would have happened if I didn't get that second ice tea?

When we got to her exit, she suggested I just drop her off on the freeway...and she would walk the rest of the way. I joked that I wouldn't even slow all the way down, and should just push her out. All my other carmates laughed. She did not. Through the rearview mirror...I felt those eyes. And she just stared through the laughs.

I didn't speak again.

***

I have been afraid to type this blog...wondering if she knows who I am...what my last name is...and is checking in on me and my San Diego dwelling.

So if I end up dead...and you see tiny, little footprints next to my body...please let Seinze or Sainz or Sienz know. He will tell my story...maybe in Spanish, it will make more sense.

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