Tuesday, August 10, 2010

watching the watchers

Since my friend Nicole works at the natural history museum, she was able to score us free tickets to one of their recent fancy catered shindigs - drinks, a buffet of Indian cuisine, Bollywood inspired dance music and, best of all, an opportunity to take a peek at Saturn through the telescope in the observatory.

Naturally, I fretted over what to wear. I have trouble with this, especially for events where I have to dress up - I am not into fashion, hate shoe shopping, and always stress out over the endless "skirt or slacks" debate, which could also be called the "prosthesis: hide or show" debate. Since it was a very warm summer evening, I made the decision in favor of a skirt, an act that usually involves me saying, "Aw, screw it. I'll wear a skirt." Besides, it was long enough to obscure the transition between fake leg and real leg, the thing that usually catches the eye of people who are going to stare.
And usually, as you can see from the photo, I end up looking quite passable and having worried for nothing.

Over the years, I've noticed that if all your limbs (mostly) match in color and shape and you don't limp, people will only give you a cursory once over. It's as if their brains only process and accept what they are expecting to see. It's like hiding in plain sight and besides...no one really focuses that much on feet. People will look though, and having worn a prosthetic my entire life, I've realized it's par for the course. Children are the the most blatant in their curiosity, and that's fine. Adults will sneak a glance or two and then look away. It's all fairly normal behavior and although I may not like it, I can ignore it. Usually.

That night at the museum, a man positioned himself directly behind me and stared at my prosthetic. He walked past me a few times, still staring, never once looking up. It was when he started to slowly circle the group I was standing in, eyes still focused on what was below my knees, that I realized that he couldn't contol his impulses. It wasn't normal staring - the guy was some sort of freak and he was zeroing in on me, in a most unnerving and predatory fashion.

Self-defense experts always tell us to listen to our gut - that if something feels wrong and your monkey brain starts saying things like, "Uh oh, danger. Run! Fight! Fling poo!" you should probably pay attention. Excellent advice, although in polite company fighting might not the best course of action and I certainly was not going run anywhere - I wanted to see Saturn, I wanted to have a good time, and I wanted more free Indian buffet, dammit.

I decided to take control of the situation instead. In fact, I think he made his exit early because I had made him so uncomfortable. I, however, left the party decorated with henna and stuffed full of lamb kebabs, with visions of a ringed planet dancing in my head.

18 comments:

Eric said...

Seeing Saturn through a telescope sticks with you. I'll never forget it.

Your making the creep feel creepy brought a smile to my face...

DixieLaurel said...

"Uh oh, danger. Run! Fight! Fling poo!" Why doesn't my brain ever tell me to fling poo?

Mike W. said...

your monkey brain starts saying things like, "Uh oh, danger. Run! Fight! Fling poo!"

They sell tactical colostomy bags now? Oh shit!

Lissa said...

I don't suppose you managed to flash him the business end of your Bersa? she asked wistfully

You look beautiful, as usual, of course.

Aaron G said...

You look great. You could have told the creep; "You look like an asstronomer, why don't you go into the restroom and use the mirror to look at Uranus?"

MaddMedic said...

That is just plain flippin wrong and I am glad you had fun and ignored the SOB.

Man...you were armed,were you not?

Geeesh that pisses me off. Partially because I have a handicap.
So I always can tell when someone notices and begins to stare...

RaspberrySurprise said...

So what did you do, if you don't mind saying, to freak out the freak so to speak?

sobriant74 said...

Good for you, and I'm jealous, I love looking at Saturn through high power 'scopes. I remember my first time looking through a big hand made scope in a field in rural SC and seeing those rings. Amazing. Also, my first cousin Amanda was born without the two bones in her left forearm, so her wrist comes righ out of elbow (she plays a mean violin btw) and it used to drive me nuts the number of people who just could NOT STOP STARING. I mean who were these people raised by? My mother used to smack the back of my head and say "its not polite to stare"; although I will admit though to giving quick "elevator eyes" to every woman I have ever met since puberty. :)
As for those who couldn't control their staring around my cousin, I found that staring back and giving them a good dose of "wolf" bio-feedback usually clears their brain out of neutral and has them look away. Happy Tuesday.

phlegmfatale said...

I think that was quite the fetching ensemble you wore. Good for you.

Your description of the guy zeroed in and circling you reminds me of something that happened to me once. Sometime remind me to tell you about the time I was cruised by a foot fetishist in a pub in England once. People are strange.

Then again, I was in a pub where bad behaviour may be expected, but at a cultural event one might expect a more refined crowd capable of a bit more restraint. What a jackass.

CircuitGizmo said...

*stares at you*

"Bring it on" I say.


*runs and hides*




W/V: ovess - Good women don't have brass balls. They have brass ovs.

lee n. field said...

Hmmm.

Back when I was a horny young man (early '70s), I read Penthouse. I don't have any idea what it's like now, but then the letter column was filled with fanciful fetish tales.

Two of the most popular were enemas and amputees.

Sounds like the amputee fetish might be real.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Sorry you had to go through that. I just hope that the Weirdo wasn't one of the Cleveland Elites, who, when they get in trouble, make a phone call to their Daddy's Political Cronies, and the problem seems to magically disappear. People like him need to be treated like the rest of us when they raise hate and discontent.

On a Wing and a Whim said...

I'll admit I looked at your feet in the photos - and I thought "cute sandals! And how in the world can your friend keep her sandals on if they've only got those three straps across the top? Any time I've tried backless shoes, they tend to go flying in mid-step!" Clearly, I am not in the class of accomplished shoe-wearers like Phlegmmy.

Congratulations on turning the tables!

James family outpost, Iowa. said...

Sheesh, what's his problem? What adult hasn't seen a prosthetic before? I see plenty of them, unfortunately the couple I see (at my gym) are worn by strapping young men recently back from the land of sand. You look lovely, don't hesitate to wear shorts, you are just as cute with your 'built' leg as you would be without.

instinct said...

So I'm only supposed to fling poo in times of fight or flight??

Dang, no wonder I'm not invited to parties anymore

be603 said...

...but then of course he may have just been an engineer. :-)

Joanna said...

If you don't have a secret compartment in that thing, you should get one. That would be awesome.

Hobie said...

I lived in Korea for 4 years 9 months and believe me, you haven't been stared at until you are the only "round eye" on the local bus! Some just stare, some will smile, some will try to speak English to/with you but ALL eyes turn your way.

BTW, I look everybody up and down at least once...