The Look... (or, Revisiting My Stalking Days)
He caught my eye, but I don't think I caught his.
It was an impressive feat, getting me to pull my eyes away from my highly engaging copy of Return of the King. I was in the last stretches, too. Just a hundred or so more pages and I would be finished, having reread the Lord of the Rings trilogy again for the 3rd or 4th or 5th time. I've long forgotten how many times I've read the darned thing.
It was getting to the engaging bit, with Sam and Frodo trekking in the lands of Mordor. But my mind was really elsewhere. I was in New York City, going to ride the red line down to the Christopher Street station to meet a gaggle of other online journallers for the first official NYC meeting. Being the organizer behind it all made me very nervous and my mind kept jumping from the hobbits to the anxiety I get when I actually have to meet people to trying to calm my nerves to cursing the heat of the subway. There's a reason why I ride nice air conditioned buses instead of dealing with the subways of the city.
It was between hopping from one thought to another that I spotted him. He wasn't very tall, probably about 5'6" or even shorter. He had a mop of neatly combed strawberry blond hair, slightly longish in the front so a few curls fell over his forhead while the back was close cut into a perfect V. He had a pair of black well-cut slacks held up with a shiny black belt and a discreet silver buckle. An open white long-sleeved button down shirt made of a light fabric was worn over a white shirt, the sleeves neatly rolled up to his elbows. A black backpack slung over his shoulder as he walked past me on the subway platform.
Clearly, I wasn't thinking straight because my brain said "follow that man. Go go go." and I did.
I followed him, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. I loved the way the tails of his shirt swished as he adeptly moved through the crowd, avoiding pillars and people and waste recepticles. As we made our way to the middle of the long platform, the train pulled up and he ducked into one of the cars. I stumbled my way through the exiting crowd to get into the car quickly, to have a pick of the seats.
I had to think lightning fast. Sit across from him or sit next to him. I decided to be on the daring side.
As I slid into the seat next to him, he pulled out a book from his pack and with long fingers, flipped through the pages. I opened my copy of Return of the King, opening it a bit wider than I normally do in hopes that he might spot the book, see the title, and make a comment. Nervously, I increased my stare on my book, trying to look hard like I was absorbed in the book and not aware of his presence next to me.
As carefully as I could, I turned my eyes over to his book, making doubly sure that I wasn't turning my head in the action. I let out a tiny sigh as I realized he must be farsighted -- he held his book so far from his face that I couldn't read the title or author as I peered over to him. I wondered what stop he would get off. Would he get off at my stop? What would I do then? I returned my eyes to my book and slowly turned my wrist to check the time on my watch.
Plenty of time to follow him if I was so inclined before the journallers meeting. It was only around 3:15 and I didn't need to get to the cafe until 4:15. I could follow him if I wanted to. If he got off on my stop. What if he didn't? Could I get off at his stop and follow him for a while and still make it back to the subway and to my stop and to the cafe? And if his stop is after mine, would I be willing to continue on? How far? What if his stop is the one right after I decided to turn around and come back?
I had lost myself in these questions that I nearly missed my stop. I quickly realized that my prey had picked up his backpack and was starting out of the subway car doors at my stop. I had just enough time to pick up my own bags and rush through the doors with my bags trailing behind me. I was praying to the subway gods to not get stuck between the doors or have my bags end up on one side with me on the other.
Luckily, my prayer was answered and I followed him love that swish, baby! to the platform exit. I nonchalantly chose a different turnstile to appear to not be following him. I saw him quickly chose one of the two exists and he swished out of site.
Panic. Do I follow him? Do I go through another exit and try to spot him and follow him to whatever destination he seeks? I stood there, unmoving for what seemed to be a long time. I then decided that I'll just go up the closest exit and see if I can spot him on the street. If he's going my way, maybe I'll follow him. Otherwise, I'll just forget about it and spend the next hour window shopping. I hopped up the steps gaily to street level and looked around. I probably looked like Bo Peep, looking for her lost sheep.
He wasn't in sight. I decide that this was all for the best and strutted down Christopher Street to window shop on Bleeker and pick up a few Japanese knick-knacks. I needed a new wallet.
 -- I need a new wallet because my current one is made of special Japanese paper and it was getting worn on the edges because I foolishly kept my credit cards in it (instead of just keeping my bills in it). So, I picked up a new one.