The Most Unnecessary One-Sided Two Year Standoff

I occasionally view my life as a cinematic experience, with each day or notable experience being another episode. Most of these episodes are partly based in reality, and partly whatever my imagination runs with based on that experience. I can usually tell the difference.

Usually..

But, sometimes I get lost in the dramatic and end up with an arch nemesis.

No matter how many times I remind myself that I’m getting carried away in the weirdness that is my own head, and that it is, in no way, representative of real life, I still didn’t let this go. For two whole years.

So, here goes.

It always starts with a guy, doesn’t it? While this story is ridiculous, it begins pretty typically. Well, kind of.

So there was this guy.

And I decided that I needed to know this guy, because this guy was really talented and I liked his face. Due to his profession(DJ) and his aforementioned likable face, I figured he got approached by women pretty often.

Probably attractive women.

Women who don’t dress like they live underneath City Hall.

Women who don’t act like their socialization was exclusively left up to playing The Sims growing up.

I needed to stand out, is what I’m saying. In a way that didn’t rely on my neglected looks, social ineptitude, or age, because I was twenty and couldn’t lurk at his parties. I needed a different direction.

So I knit him a hat.

I know right? Genius.

I knit a hat for him and two members of his crew. I also ended up selling one to a DJ in San Francisco and a local event promoter. I got a nice little 15 minutes of Instagram fame, twas fun. Anyways!

I have this thing… where I make a knitted good, give it away, and then obsess about its condition constantly.

Did I tie in the ends correctly? What if it unravels and falls apart? What if it’s not big enough for their head? What if it SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUSTS? Why don’t I see them wearing it? Did they like it? A pack of coyotes took it, didn’t they? Or a dingo ate the beanie. I can make it again, y’know. I can fix it! I don’t mind. Just let me know! Just, I just need to know where it is, how it’s doing, if it’s happy, if it’s getting ample sunlight and riboflavin, I don’t know. I…I just need to know if it’s okay. IS IT OKAY?

I got to hand deliver one hat to likable-face person, and he was happy. We selfie’d together while he wore it. He tagged me in posts of him wearing the hat online in the weeks following. Everything was cool. I was at ease. 1 hat down.

A friend delivered the next hat for me. He recounted the giving away of the hat, and I was again tagged in a post online of the beanie with an accompanied thanks. Everything was cool. I was at ease. 2 hats down.

Conflicting schedules prevented a proper exchange with the receiver of the last one. So when I saw online of an event for Record Store Day, I decided to go and deliver the hat there. He wasn’t there when I arrived, and I had to leave because I forgot about a prior engagement. I left the beanie with the store clerk and left.

I never heard about the hat, nor did another opportunity to meet ever spring up. Everything was uncertain. I was not at ease. 2 hats down. ONLY 2 HATS DOWN. TWO HATS DOWN OUT OF THREEand a growing paranoia that the third one was probably on fire somewhere.

Flash forward to Summer 2014. There was a free concert in Rittenhouse Square, and I was working with one of the performing artists. A lot of friends and music-y people came out. It was quite the affair. Until…

So I’m standing around with my uncle, waiting for everything to start. A friend walks up and says hey. We chat for a while. And then, hwalks up. The receiver of the third hat. Yeah, did you think I was still talking about Likeable-Face Person? No, no, forget that guy. If this story were about him, it would make too much sense.

So he says hi to our friend, and our friend introduces him to my uncle.

I am standing in between my uncle and our friend. Like, in the middle of the two. Dead center. Note this. And he is standing directly in front of the three of us.

He shakes hands with my uncle. And I’m kind of just waiting for a quarter of a millisecond of eye contact so I can introduce myself like, “Hey nice to formally meet you, I made you that hat and stuff.” Like…you wouldn’t just interject to introduce yourself in the middle of something you weren’t part of, right? I’m too socially remedial to know for sure, but I’m pretty sure you wait for some kind of an “in.” I was waiting for that “in.” But no. That “in” never happened.

He looks back over to our friend and says, “Well good seeing you, man,” AND WALKS AWAY.

I told you I was right in between my uncle and our friend, right? So he meets my uncle and then shifts his gaze right past me to say bye to our friend. AND WALKS AWAY, I REITERATE.

………..

Huh?

Am I… visible?

Can ANYONE see me?

Am I even really here? I’m here, right? Panic set in. I poked my uncle and waved my arms frantically in his face, “CAN YOU SEE ME? DID YOU FEEL THAT?”

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

“SO YOU DID??? It’s just HIM then! He… he shunned me.”

Shunned.

But why? Was I hard to see? I’m six feet of person, there’s no way. Did he reach his meeting-people quota for the day after meeting my uncle? OH MY GOSH, the hat probably caught fire. Or he broke it. Or it grew sentience and left to live its own life. Or maybe he never got it. The clerk kept it for himself and never said anything about it and he thought I was lying when I told him I left it at the record store for him. He thinks I’m a liar. His head is probably still cold…in the middle of summer.. Oh my gosh I could have fixed all of this if he just said something. But he shunned me. Shunned. 

It could have just ended there. I could have let it go because it wasn’t like I was going to see him often enough for it to matter. It would have just been one of many awkward interactions you have in a lifetime to never recall again, as is life.

But no. The next day I scroll through my Instagram feed to see a video clip of the show from his account. I managed to see myself in the background among the crowd. Y’kno, standing dead center in between my uncle and our friend. Very clearly not invisible. Relatively easy to see and difficult to shift a gaze right past and whatever. I posted a comment like, “Hah I see myself in the background, great night” or something like that.

No reply.

Shunned again. Digitally shunned. It was official, this was no mistake. He hated the hat. He must have set it on fire himself, I thought.

My 21st birthday rolls around, and I start hitting all of the parties these guys throw that I had been missing out on all this time. I mean I’m not so crazy, guys. I knew none of this was real outside my mind. So when I started going out, I had full intention of finally introducing myself and becoming friends IRL. Yeah, side note: We were Facebook friends and followed each other on Instagram since I made the first hat, like…this was all after that. Another post for another day but those don’t translate over to real life very smoothly for me, which brings us to this debacle.

There were maybe two or three instances where I was chilling out at a party and was like, Yup I’m gonna formally meet this dude tonight so this can stop being weird and everything is gonna be coolin’ and yeah. And as I approach or see him coming up to the bar where I’m sitting, ready to tap him and say hi or whatever, SOMETHING HAPPENS WHERE HE STRAIGHT UP SWERVES ON ME AND TALKS TO SOMEONE ELSE JUST. BESIDE. ME.

SHUNNED. again and again.

learned hopelessness

I was just never going to meet him. I mustered up all the courage to meet him that I had. There was none left. And the more time to pass would make it even less appropriate to introduce myself because we weren’t complete strangers. Just in real life. I can repost your mixes on Soundcloud, you can like my Insta posts about coffeeshops, but..what? Would I ask how your daughter is doing in person when I’ve never spoken to you before for you to tell me you have a daughter? That’s not okay. That’s creepy. It’s this weird social limbo space. And so I marked him my Arch Nemesis, because we could never be cool, and I avoided him at all costs.

Do you know how hard that was? I ran into him, everywhere.

He went to all of the Night Markets and other food festivals.

He coffee’d in the Philly coffee scene like I did.

He’d be the opening DJ for every concert I went to.

HE BECAME MY NEIGHBOR.

Okay, I became his neighbor I guess, but like…details? He still doesn’t need to walk out of restaurants right as I’m walking past or use the trolley at the same time as me. It takes so much out of me to be normal and calmly, un-screamingly get away as fast as possible without being spotted every time.

I had a friend once try to trap me into an introduction after a concert. He was my ride to the party afterward, but I caught on…I saw him conversing with my Arch Nemesis, and I left the venue and took the sub to the party instead. I was dedicated. I would die before having another awkward exchange with this man, or worse yet get shunned an nth time.

But two years of dipping, ducking, fast walking, and silent screaming all came to a crash and burn. I slipped up last month.

I was at Likable-Face Person’s party. It was the end of the night and all the cool people who don’t get kicked out when the bar closes, and me, were standing around talking. I was adding to the conversation while also looking down at my phone. Someone replies to my comment, and as I say something back I look up and it was himMy Arch Nemesis.

We had conversed. I said a thing. He said a thing back. And I responded again. That was dialogue.

Dammit. Alright Storm, don’t you dare scream. Calm down, stop breathing so fast…uh..uhhh…go to the bathroom or something. Or I don’t know do so–

“Storm, you ready? Let’s go,” I hear my ride yell from the front door.

SAVIOURRRRRRR. And I thought I had gotten away for good.

But there we were, at another party just a week or two later. Same scene. End of the night. Everyone chatting. I had stepped away into another circle of more chats. But in a break of topics, I was directly addressed by my Arch Nemesis. And I was trapped, acting normal, talking back and having conversation. It was…nice. I hated it. The voice inside my head was hoarse from screaming endlessly. And then,

“…You know that hat you made has gotten passed around to everyone in the family. My daughter wears it most now.”

Oh my God, the hat is…okay?

crying face emoji

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s…all I wanted. Th-thank..you.

So we’re like…friends now? We hugged, it’s kinda official. I met his family. His wife is really nice. Soooo hooray reconciliation? …of a beef nobody knew was a thing? Yeah, hooray!

Even still, that didn’t stop me from seeing him at the co-op market last week and scurrying away to stare at kale until the coast was clear and only then going to the register to check out..

Old habits die hard I guess.

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Hey Pumpkin!

My mom used to be an adolescent psych nurse. And back then, she had this coworker that she’d tell me about who always greeted the patients with, “HEYYYYYYY PUMPKIN!!!”

The kids loved that nurse. They looked forward to her arrival every day. But to be deemed Pumpkin wasn’t arbitrary. It was a respected privilege. And if a patient acted out or annoyed this nurse, she would revoke their title.

“You’re not my pumpkin anymore.”

I Googled 'Crying'

This was supposed to be a picture of a devastated person, but I Googled ‘crying’ and uh…this came up.

So naturally, how could I not?

But let’s pretend I actually got a stock photo of a devastated child bawling their eyes out, as was my intended direction. Being that woman’s Pumpkin was EVERYTHING to those kids. For totally inexplicable reasons, it was just so important. They didn’t get anything from it. They weren’t treated any more special than the other patients. But to be called Pumpkin. If they angered that nurse, they fell to pieces. They would get their lives together, vow to never be bad again. Anything, to be Pumpkin again. It was so serious. Too serious. Pumpkin.

But you know, I feel like around this time of the year, we are all adolescent psychiatric patients. Because what the hell is this hype over pumpkin every single fall season? We all succumb to it. It begins earlier and earlier every year. The appeal of pumpkin dictates our lives for one quarter of the year.

Pumpkins aren’t that great. Do we even know if it’s a fruit or a vegetable? What does it do? Is it not strange that pumpkin has never been the focal point of some health craze? I can’t name a single health benefit of pumpkin off the top of my head outside of it not being crack cocaine. And I live on the Internet. I know the health benefits of kumquats and how water will kill you. That’s brainpower I’ll never get back but it’s there, man.

kamquat

Great for your digestive system, and they help prevent diabetes! How the feezy do I know that? Someone help.

 It’s orange. What the kind of plant is orange? Carrots and bell peppers? Neither of those are very trustworthy vegetables, am I right? Oh, so are kumquats. OH MY GOSH AND ORANGES TOO. But those are fruit. They’re chill. Maybe… But orange vegetables are sketch at best, and I…think pumpkins are vegetables.

Who’s idea was it to carve faces into pumpkins? What is that doing for anybody? Don’t we have enough ways to accidentally stab ourselves that are necessary to everyday life? And they just rot. In your house. On your doorstep. That’s not cute. “Welcome to my home, enjoy this giant rotting vegetable(I think) while you wait for me to answer the bell. And look! It has a little face crudely carved into it’s flesh, and you’re next.

I would like to know who started this madness. What pumpkin loving freak looked at a slice of pumpkin pie one Thanksgiving and said to themselves, “Y’kno, this just isn’t enough for me. Let’s dump some of this in my coffee. Let me start it a Twitter account. Let me spread it on some toast. Let me sandwich it in a cookie. How about I dump some in an ice cream maker. Let’s eat this in September. Better yet, make it August. And let me share my obsession so I never have to go without pumpkin ever again.”

Well done, maniac. Thanks a lot. I hope you’re happy. I’m not. I’m sick of walking into the store to see another pumpki-fied item. Would it be pumpk’d? Yeah, yeahhh.

pumpkin spice oreos

Oreos? You just got pumpk’d.

PSL m&ms

M&M’s? Pumpk’d.

Terra Pumpkin Spice

Chips? You got Pumpk’d.

Pumpkin beerBeer = Pumpk’d.

Did anybody have to read The Botany of Desire in school? It’s probably a good book. But a half-hearted skim of it and the author, Michael Pollan, creeped me all the way out. I marked him off as a plant loving weirdo and put the book away for the rest of the semester. A very rough and barely accurate summary of the book is that Michael Pollan thinks plants have an agenda to fill the earth with themselves, and they make humans go crazy for four basic desires that they provide, so we bend to their plant-will and grow them everywhere. And we generally do something to alter the plant forever, either for better or worse. But it’s apparently all part of the plants’ grand scheme to control us.

Michael Pollan is still weird, and I’m not reading that crazy plant conspiracy book, but maybe he’s on to something. What if the pumpkins did this to us? They’re that crazy nurse. And we’re all her patients. Think about it, possibly over a PSL and a pumpkin muffin. And don’t act like you don’t know what that acronym is. I know you do. And so do the pumpkins. We’ve all been pumpk’d.