April 13, 2009
This morning I'd like to write a post about something that happened a year or so ago, something that pops into my head quite frequently ever since it happened.
It was just after eight o'clock when a buddy of mine who is also a published writer and also likes to drink beer called me up with the equivalent of, "Let's catch the bus down to club so-and-so, and grab a coupla' beers."
"Okay," was my immediate response, and that's how this story starts.
Half-hour later, we get off the bus a block or two from the spot, which is situated such that a customer entering the front door from the street will be facing north. It's before 9:00 p.m. on a Friday night. The atmosphere inside the bar felt relatively calm as we were walking through the front door. At the end of the bar, about twenty feet in front of us and five feet offset to the right, were two middle-aged folks – a woman, and a man directly to her left.
No sooner than we'd stepped three feet over the threshhold, the woman – who was facing north with her back towards us and presumably did not see us beforehand – suddenly and very noticeably jerks herself 180 degrees around, makes direct eye contact with us, and says, "Oh, you're here…"
Creepy, right? This comment really put my buddy off, and it didn't do much for me, either. My brain was telling meI'd never seen this woman before in my life, and his reaction seemed to indicate he didn't either. Then again, knowing the brain's ability to fool, I wondered if maybe one of us hadn't been here and possibly met her before, and simply forgotten. It was a rare chance, as we'd only been to that particular bar less than five times, but certainly possible. So out of curiosity more than anything else, I decided to test my theory by chopping her up while I ordered a beer.
She seemed to think we'd never met before either, because she introduced herself thusly: "Hi, I'm (name withheld). I'm a witch, and this is my wizard." She points to the guy to her right, and hands us a book. Oddly, the photo attributed to the author indeed appears to be the guy, who remained silent throughout the entire duration of this incident. My buddy says absolutely nothing to the woman, and indicates with his body language that he wants no part of whatever she's up to.
She asked us if we skated. I said that we did, although not as much as before, and we also got on the topic of writing for a moment, after which she made some sexually provocative comments we all laughed at. This led me to believe she was simply trying to hit on us, so in further attempts to put a figurative wall between us and her, I offered up the fact that I have a girlfriend. She ponders this for a second while giving me a weird stare, then says, "Oh, I can see that you love her very much," or something similar, and asks what her astrological sign is. Only half-jokingly, I replied, "You're the witch, you tell me." She gave me a weird look, and got quiet for a second, then on to the next topic.
We made a few more sentences of small talk, and that was essentially it. After this, neither myself nor my buddy said much else to the woman, who had met up with some guy and was busy flagrantly groping and making out with him. My buddy and I each had four light beers over the course of say, an hour-and-a-half, to two hours tops, on top of full stomachs. And we're both grown men who can drink four beers and not act like incoherent and blundering lightweights.
Later on, the lady walks over to us and hands me a postcard and says, "Email me sometime…" and then talks some more about wanting to write for a project we'd mentioned. I assumed this was either an honest writing advance, or just more flirtation, and put the postcard in my pocket with little more than a cursory glance. My buddy and I left, deciding to call it an early night. We grabbed one more beer each at this spot that was a few blocks' walk from where we were. Then we caught the bus home and were both in around midnight.
The next morning, I pulled the postcard out of my back pocket and flipped it over. This most interesting woman had scribbled my girlfriends' name, spelled correctly, in multiple places on the back of the postcard. Neither my friend nor myself ever mentioned my girlfriend's name. Needless to say, I spent most of that morning trying to reconcile this event with the ways in which today's average philosophical naturalist sees the world.
I realize this is an anecdote, hence scientifically useless, but that's not the point and I don't want anyone to flank me regarding proof. What I want to know is, regardless of what you believe, how would you parse this if it happened to you?