Thursday, August 10, 2006

Eau de creepy

I've hit a dry spell in the blog fodder department recently. It's summer, blah, blah, blah-dee, blah. I was thinking of writing a light-hearted open letter to all OB-Gyn's, after my appointment yesterday, about exam etiquette and how I thought it was bad form to ask the $64,000 second baby question while tickling the cervix of their patient lying prone on the exam table. I was even going to throw in a few jokes:

Well, doc, you seem to have taken up residence in there already. Don't think there would be much room for you and a fetus. But I suppose you could knock out a wall or two to make some more space. Har, har, har.

Hey, doc, while you're in there could you slap a coat of paint on the walls? Things could really use some freshening up. Ba-da-bum.

I decided that you've all been through it (except you guys, and in your case sorry about the va-jay-jay talk) and don't need to be reminded of all the mirth and merriment that is the annual gynecologist visit. It's your loss, really.

So just as I was about to slam my foot in the door of my car just so I would have something to write about (complete with pictures! Of my purple-y black foot! WhooHoo!), the fodder found me. In the aisles of Target, to be exact. While perusing the selection of linens at the red-bulleted yuppy Mecca for suburbanites he approached me...

The Inappropriate Creepy Guy.

I could smell him before I could see him. While checking out the 220-count cotton sheets (which probably won't fit my freakishly large mattress, btw) I was struck, literally knocked back, by the heavy scent of Polo. I didn't even know Ralph Lauren still selling that stuff. I'm making a law right now that all bottles of Polo should be immediately incinerated. Or, better yet, dumped in a large hole and buried. Please don't call Greenpeace, they won't understand that we'll be doing the world a favor. I don't trust anyone who bathes in that shit.

I thought that maybe the olfactory offender was long gone, though his scent lingered, so I stepped a few feet away from Chicky Baby who was sitting in the cart trying her damnedest to gnaw her way through the top of a container of Gerber Sweet Potato Puffs. Then, from out of nowhere, came this voice that immediately made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

"Oooh, hooow oold is sshheee?"

I whipped my head around to see a man in his late 40's (I'm guessing), dressed in a conservative blue dress shirt and trailing that nasty scent, coming at my child. I should pause here to mention that people, men and women, tend to come from far and wide to talk to my daughter. It's not a shock that someone would ask me questions about her. Now, I'm not implying that she's the most beautiful baby ever to shoot out of a woman's midlands - but, let's face it, she is damn cute - it's just that she has this was of engaging strangers in a way that makes them powerless in her gaze. She is the nymph and they are the ship. Or is it, her face is the siren song, she is the rock and they are the boat? Whatever. Chicky has this way of making eye contact and maintaining it for a few seconds before letting her mouth slowly creep up at the sides to reveal her killer smile. Then, when the person is a stammering, wilty mess, she starts to act coy and shy, tilting her head to the side just so and then facing them again with a big smile and batting eyelashes. I'm doomed when she becomes a teenager.

But this man never got a glance from my child. Her back was to the direction from whence he came and, like I mentioned before, she was trying to eat her way through that can of baby heroin.

"How ooooollldddd iiiiissss ssshhheeeee?" he repeated.

"Uh, um..."

I froze. Should I start to share important fact about my child with this stranger? What's next? Height, weight, social security number? He had one of those institutional haircuts, cut short and cemented to his head and he was getting closer to the cart. I was a good four feet away, getting whoozy from the cheap cologne he was wearing. Was this his plan? Forget the ammonia on the rag bit, just drench yourself in that stuff and let the women pass out on their own. Instinctively I jumped for the cart and yanked it to me with such force Chicky Baby dropped the container of puffs.

"Um, she's 15 months."

"Oooh, I haaavvve a twooo and a haaaalf year old at hoooome." Where? Locked in a secret cubby hole in your basement? I swear I saw him licking his lips.

Because she had dropped her sugar fix on the floor, Chicky started to whine. Loudly. And then, showing off her new toddler attitude, she started screeching. I was torn. Do I look away and grab the container to get her to stop screaming and risk Creepy Guy snatching my child away or let someone call DSS because some crazy woman was clearly beating her child? I had visions of our own Massachusetts version of Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb, stealing children and using their skin to make fine handbags. It puts the pacifier in the basket or else it gets the hose again...

As luck would have it I didn't have to choose between the Department of Social Services and becoming the Lifetime movie of the week. Creepy Guy took one look at my daughter's red face and the steam that was coming from her ears and slinked, yes slinked, away towards the exit without another word. I think that was the only time that I ever hugged my child for having a tantrum in public.

Thinking back on it I'm sure he was a very nice man with a young child at home that just wanted to make idle conversation with a stranger in the aisles of a department store while suffocating that stranger with the power of their cologne and mentally sizing up their child for his new wallet. But the next time you're in a department store and the scent of Polo wafts towards you, you'll think twice about letting your child out of arm's reach. You can thank me later.

29 comments:

Waya said...

Oh, that was so creepy!! And I can't stand that Polo eau de barf! I'm surprised they still sell that sh!t! And I don't trust ANYBODY ANYWHERE, I have my eyes behind my head wherever we go with my children. You never know there are perps lurking everywhere!!

Irreverent Antisocial Intellectual said...

Ugh, I've often wondered if I should tell people at stores that they're too far away from their kids.

General rule of thumb: old men (like Grandfather old) will engage mommies and babies in conversation - usually to get an opportunity to talk about their grandkids. Middle-aged men DO NOT engage mommies and babies in conversation unless they're trying to hit on the mommy, and that becomes very obvious since the next question usually involves something pick-up-eqsue.

Daddies DO NOT engage other mommies with babies in stores because they don't want anyone doing that to their kid and wife.

Men with kids (but without kids with them) will say an innocuous comment in passing. Like: "That's a nice age. My girl is 13 now and that's not a nice age. Good luck!" And then they'll walk away.

You encountered a certifiable Creepy Guy. If Chicky Baby hadn't have had a meltdown, he would have offered to help you with bags at your car.

Word to the wise: men in Target during the day (unless they're actively buying something) are trolling for mommies and babies. Your Creepy Guy was trying to worm his way in - they only get dangerous once they've wormed, i.e.: "Oh go ahead, run your errand, I'll stay with the baby."

Yuck. I hijacked. I'm sorry.
And oh yeah, I HATE guys I can smell before I see. Ick.

MrsFortune said...

Wow, I'm not so sure I agree with the previous commenter, it seems kind of dogmatic to say that men DO NOT do that. My husband absolutely loves, loves babies and would talk to a woman in a store because ... he loves babies. He would ask "how old is she" definitely. But you wouldn't smell him coming.

I can't remember where I read it recently but it was on someone's blog about a guy asking for help reading some cards at WalMart, then his picture was in the paper for masturbating while he was doing this. Ewwww. So I think you got off easy. Love your silence of the lambs reference.

carrie said...

Eeeeeeew! Yuck!!! You don't have to say he was probably a "nice young man", he was a creep!!! How many guys do you know that would start idle chit-chat with a stranger (even when their daughter is as undeniably beautiful as yours)?? Was he trying to pick you up or something? Oh, definitely a "Silence of the Lambs" moment -- your mommy instincts are in good tune!

Carrie

Pattie said...

My official opinion is if your radar is telling you something isn't right, it isn't. Sounds like Chicky baby knew it, too.

radioactive girl said...

Creepy! That happened to me in a shoe store with my oldest daughter when she was around 2. I never went to that store again without my husband! Yuck! And sure, maybe he was a nice guy, but you don't ned to take that chance! Your job is to protect your baby and not worry about offending some creepy guy!

mothergoosemouse said...

Oy.

I see both IAI and Mrs. Fortune's sides. IAI is trained to know this stuff, and Mrs. F's husband is a lot like Kyle.

If I haven't already pimped this book enough, here it is again: "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker. A must-read for all women.

Mrs. C, I'm glad that Chicky threw such a timely fit. But even if she hadn't, there's no reason why you shouldn't say "Excuse me, we need to finish our shopping." Especially to some dude who still wears Polo.

Mother said...

Okay. Thanks for the nightmares from that damn pic.

As for the dude, the cologne probably doesn't help his cause. I'm suspicious of anyone (regardless of gender who does that). But Q gives people really dirty looks and they usually step away.

Christina said...

Ugh, I hate people who put on too much smelly stuff. Be it lotion, cologne, whatever.

And yeah, it would be one thing if you had already seen him, but what's up with approaching you out of the blue to ask questions about your kid?

Mamacita Tina said...

So now I'm going to have nightmares too. Yikes! Chicky Baby seemed to pick up that this guy was creepy and did her part to help out. Bravo!

Mommy off the Record said...

Ugh, that DOES sound creepy! I'm glad you got away from him quickly!

I was approached at Target by a creepy guy a few months ago when Little Guy was about 6 months old. The guy looks at me and then looks at Little Guy and goes, "Dang, what is it with all the BABIES around here? I keep seeing BABIES everywhere I go. Is this just the YEAR of BABIES or something? Ha ha ha".

I was like WTF? Don't you know where you ARE? You're in TARGET for Cripes Sake? Like 25% of the entire baby population lives in Target....permanently...with their mothers. DUH!

Lisa said...

Gah. I think he was at a SteinMart in St. Louis this past December.

Ick

Ruth Dynamite said...

Ew ew ew. Hooray for Chicky baby for saving the day! (She knew, right? Of course she did.) You too. I'm with Domesticator. Trust your instincts.

Self-Proclaimed Supermom said...

EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW how creepy.

Those sort of things make you just want to lock your doors and stay inside.

Ashley said...

creepy guy!! i have issues with people talking to little bit in a store. i keep a hand on her the whole time i'm shopping. my husband walked up on the wrong side of me one day and grabbed the cart (i couldn't see him) and i swear he about lost an eye. i felt the cart move b/c i was holding it but had NO idea who was moving it. i advised him not to try that one again :)

Her Bad Mother said...

I totally believe in going with your instincts on these things. Apologies to all the nice, well-meaning men out there, but if you douse yourself in what smells like lighter fluid and get too close, we're going to assume the worst.

Because we must.

Poopydigs said...

I hate it when creepy people approach me and my baby.

These are situations when carrying a laser gun should so be legalized.

chicky chicky baby handled it well.

Teacher lady said...

I'm with MotherGooseMouse. Get the second DeBecker book, "Protecting the Gift" about parents keeping their children safe. If you're creeped out, there's a reason! That guy would have made me run in the other direction!

Blog Antagonist said...

LOL...my husband is the creepy guy minus the cologne. He just really loves kids and enjoys interacting with them. And since we no longer have toddlers at home, he is attracted to their adorableness.

But I had to tell him that it freaks women out when strange men get too close to their kids and starts acting too interested. He was surprised at first, it had never occurred to him, but then he got it.

Too bad we have to be so protective these days. My radar would have been pining away too, but you're right, he probably was just a regular guy who likes babies.

Velma said...

God, I used to wear that stuff in college! Now I'll never smell it again without doing a quick scan of the vicinity for a creepy guy...

Irreverent Antisocial Intellectual said...

IAI again ... Gavin De Becker knows his shit! "The Gift of Fear" is excellent, we've used that in teaching cops. I haven't read "Protecting the Gift" yet but I have read excerpts and I'd have to say, "RIGHT ON!"

Anyway, just wanted to say that if it smells funny (pun intended) it smells funny for a reason. Mommy instinct is almost 100% accurate. How many times have you lugged a kid to the pediatrician because "she's just not acting right" and how many times was something wrong? Women have an outstanding little voice in their heads that directs them away from danger ... when women become mothers, that voice starts to command more authority. Listen to it.

And avoid anything that smells like Polo :-)

Mom101 said...

I think you need to start insisting on a two-drink minimum when people come here. Just make sure Carrottop doesn't open for you.

Kevin Charnas said...

intuition and the scent of Polo should never be ignored. what a creep.

Kristin said...

I know that guy... he lurks around our Trader Joe's.

lildb said...

fly, fly, fly, little starling, er, Chicky Baby, and Mrs. Chicky. fly, fly, fly -- away from polo-drenched fucknuts.

ya done right.

wendy boucher said...

Ewwww. Polo and general ickiness. I'm proud of little Chicky and her well-timed tantrum.

Bridgermama said...

Stick with that mama's intuition...we have it for a reason!

Jozet said...

Gavin DeBecker, Protecting the Gift. I'm voting for it, too. Trust your instincts.

Believe you me, working in the kids' department of a major bookstore, I've seen some creepy stuff go down...fer real. It doesn't happen often, but often enough that when my radar starts pinging, I listen to it.

Nancy said...

It is kind of weird to me as the alleged father of an alleged toddler that he would slink away at the first sign of a meltdown. Hmmmm...