by Tori Abernathy, Justin Flood and Eva Anonymous
On Wednesday, October 28th, we posted a number of fliers in the vicinity of the PSU art building requesting anecdotes about encountering strangers on campus.
On Thursday, October 29th we received a rather cryptic text message.
It read simply:
Why do u want to know?
We attempted to call the individual and ended up leaving a brief voice mail message briefly describing the project.
On Sunday, November 1st, we received a second text message from the same phone number:
I was going to, but realized all my stories include me being the weird stranger or saying stupid things.
We exchanged a couple of text messages and offered to preserve this person’s identity through an anonymous e-mail. Within an hour we received a en e-mail. Below is an excerpt:
I have a lot of moments where I just act very awkwardly or inappropriately in a social situation. I have this feeling of how boring life is. Take the question “How’s it going?” I mean, it would take me at least 15 minutes to tell you how my day really went and how it affected me. No one wants to hear about what I had for breakfast. I mean shit, I don’t want to hear what anyone had for breakfast. I hate breakfast.
The author, “Eva”, goes on to describe two uncomfortable social situations she has experienced. In the first anecdote, she breaks the conventions of small talk and is embarrassed about by her own social faux pas. In the second, she encounters an older man who looks familiar at her place of employment. She attempts to connect with the man only to realize she has seen him at a swinger’s club on her 21st birthday. No longer wanting to connect with the man, she lies and tells him that she has a twin sister:
This guy comes through my checkout line. He has this very kind face, like your elementary school principal. I feel like I’ve met him before so I ask him, “Do I know you?”
He says, “I’m not sure, but you look really familiar.”
I ask, “Did you teach here?”
“Did your kids go here?”
And now it turns into 20 questions. He asks me, “Fred Meyer?”
I ask him, “Do you have kids that go here?”
“Do you go to church?”
And then it hits me. This is the guy from the swinger’s bar. Fuck.