This is a true story, and it literally happened less than a week ago.
I was at the CVS in Rye Ridge Plaza, because I had a coupon for Aussie shampoo, my favorite. Crouched down in the aisle, trying to figure out if it was really worth buying three for $11.49, I was suddenly aware of someone standing too close. The next thing I knew, he was on the floor next to me, my first thought being, oops, had I been taking too long blocking the conditioner?
He was half my age, muscular, with mirrored sunglasses on, and giving off a strange kind of vibe, like the Arnold Friend character from one of my favorite Joyce Carol Oates stories, “Where are you going, and Where have you been?”
“Excuse me,” he said. “Are those clogs you are wearing?”
Being in the fashion business, I am used to people stopping to compliment me on what I am wearing, and ask questions. This is the core foundation of Psychotic Leopard, to find items so compelling that people start conversations and form connections through them.
It felt a little odd, however, when he asked, “Can I see?” Meaning, take off my shoe in the middle of the drugstore.
There was a moment where I gave pause. But, as my nature is to often ignore initial warning signs, I smiled and said, “Sure,” slipping my it off and handing it to him.
He began stroking the inside of the well-worn leather tongue with his fingers.
“Wow, these must be so comfortable,” he continued, rubbing the footbed. “Do you wear them every day?”
Gross, I thought, thinking of how many years of sweat must have accumulated in the space he was touching. I never wear socks.
It began dawning on me that something was definitely off, so I began babbling about how awesome the brand Born was, as he continued getting my ancient foot juice all over his fingers.
Thanking me, he reluctantly handed back the clog, and disappeared around the aisle.
Kinda weird, I thought.
In the makeup section, I suddenly felt the hair on my spine rise as he again appeared.
“I hope you don't think this is creepy,” he began, “but I just wanted to say that I really like the scent that comes off you, and your shoes. It's just so natural. I really, really like it. I hope that doesn’t bother you.”
It bothered me. I don't know why I have this thing where I don't just run away from possible danger, and instead continue to engage, even when the chemicals in my body are saying, flee.
But to be honest, I have been always drawn to the slightly freaky, and had the overriding thought that it had been awhile since I'd met someone like this, and what a story this could make.
Managing to extract myself, I headed for the counter to pay, realizing that the car was not right outside, but instead about half a mile away, with my daughter and her friend, who were innocently eating Froyo, waiting for my return.
He was there.
Dipping into the seasonal aisle, I pretended to examine sunscreen SPFs for the next couple of minutes. But when I circled back to the cashier, there he was again, lurking, trying to ensure that we both walked out of the door at the same time.
Luckily, my clerk was faster. Nice job, Wendy. Beelining for the shortcut, my fragrant clogs and I safely made it back to Red Mango.
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- Tags: Addiction, Born, Creepy, CVS, Fashion, Foot Fetish, Leather, Leatherwork, Midlife, Shoes, Weird, Womens Issues