Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Creepy Lady

Recently I realized I have become that creepy lady. You know the one - she plays at the park sans children, and strikes up conversations with adolescents who have strayed too far from their parents. She knows what Girl Scout Cookies she prefers, but asks the Brownie who is selling them, "Which do you like best?" anyway. Parents fly to their little ones' rescue upon the creepy lady's approach.

The sad thing is I realized this new classification through abductive reasoning. That is, children I greet at the park, or Girl Scouts from whom I buy cookies, no longer engage in lighthearted conversation with me. Instead, they eye me suspiciously, and seek out a familiar adult to assess the situation. Or worse. They get wide-eyed and bolt away fearfully. My best hypothesis: I look creepier than I used to.

Or maybe just more adult-like. Before I might have seemed to be a gangly kid or a harmless college student, but now something about my appearance and manner sends off a warning to signal to young children and parents alike, saying, "Alien intrusion. Strange adult on the premises".

Having realized this, I am inclined to respect these new boundaries. I have no desire to frighten anyone. But I am convinced that there must be another approach that will allow me to penetrate the protective walls of "stranger danger," and once again engage in imaginative games with the rising generation.

Maybe I'll start paying friends to let me take their kids on park excursions so everyone else won't look at me with terrified disgust when I test out the latest jungle gym...

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