2001-08-09 stalker danger fear crazy man

For the past two nights the boyfriend and I have met for coffee at a little locally owned coffee shop near my home. Over the summer, we've met for coffee virtually every day, but usually at a Starbucks or a diner. We both like this smaller coffee shop with its trendy recliners, and Trivial Pursuit games, but I don't think we can go back. You see, we've picked up a stalker.

Two nights ago when we met at the coffee shop the place was pretty empty. We were sitting at a table talking and sipping. An old, balding, fat man with highwaters came and sat in the table right next to us, facing us directly. He opened a brief case, and produced a gallon size zip-loc with five or six bagels in it. Then munched on the dry bagels and commented on our conversation.

I was saying how I wished I could paint. And he interjected that I can if I take a "highschool at night" course, but counseled me against being discouraged by the more advanced students. It is my normal reaction to be friendly, so I briefly engaged him and caught Tom rolling his eyes and trying not to laugh. Then the stalker wanted to talk about tornados because he found out I was from Oklahoma. Frankly, the tornado conversation is a little played for me. Everyone here has one of two reactions when they find out I'm from Oklahoma. They either sing the god damn song to me (they usually do this as if I've never heard it before. Throwing their heart and soul into every syllable) or they want to talk about tornados.

I dismissed the stalker a bit and we grabbed our coffee and fled. I even said it had been nice to meet him when we left. I'm a fool.

Last night, we went back to this neighborhood coffee shop and that same guy turned up and sat in the closest table to ours, again facing us. "The news reports Ronald Reagan's daughter died today."

It was a random statement, made by a lonely old man desperately seeking friends. "I heard that." I said, and Tom and I physically turned our backs on him. He was starting to be creepy. We talked a bit about college and other youngish things when he tapped me on the shoulder and asked "Have you ever gone to the University of Pennsylvania?"

It was an utterly random question. "No, I went to school in the Midwest. I'm a Sooner. I've been on campus though." I sucked down my grande latte and we sprinted for the door without looking back.

It's sad about that old man. Mostly because I'll never be able to return to the coffee shop, but also because he seems to have a mental disorder. Also I got the distinct impression he was hitting on the boyfriend and I. I'm still a little skeeved.

Hope he's not reading this.

Posted at 3:31 p.m.

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