I don’t like crowds. Let me be more specific, I don’t like to be jammed shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of people. It’s a personal space issue for me and probably a character flaw, but I will take the stairs or wait for the next one if an elevator is full. I will pay extra for VIP seating, not because I am very important, but because I don’t want to be mashed up against the unwashed masses to see a concert. It actually makes me uncomfortable to see someone else violating another person’s personal space. I can remember when Jackson was younger and we took the family to Disneyland. I spent the days jerking him by the collar because he was constantly too close to the person in front of him. Oddly, it never seemed to bother anyone but me, but man did it make my skin crawl!
But the worst situation of all is the Close Talker. There was a great Seinfeld episode featuring Judge Reinhold as a Close Talker. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this clip. Recently, I had someone visit the farm to fix something or another. Turned out this guy was a first order Close Talker. He would step right up to me, so close I could smell what he had for dinner the night before. So I take a step back and turn slightly, still chatting away. He adjusts and is right back in my face. And now the dance is on!
We started out in front of the old chop shop. A few steps back and some twists and turns later, we were 20 feet away from where we started and he is still on top of me. Why is it that I can’t point out that he is WAY too close? I’m a fairly aggressive person. I will pretty much say anything to anyone at any time, sometimes to a fault. Why am I letting this knucklehead continue to invade my space like Genghis Kahn? Then I see my salvation…
How could a boat trailer help this situation, you ask? Notice the shape starting at the hitch. With a couple of deft moves, I repositioned us so that the next few steps would slide us sideways! A couple of delightful sashays to the left and there was a comfortable two feet between us. This had turned into a game for me, and I just won. The odd thing was, as perplexed as he looked, he never gave up the gab. It was kinda weird; while his upper body appeared relaxed and kept up the chit chat, his lower body seemed frustrated that there was now a barrier of more than 3 inches between him and the person it was talking to.
I know socially awkward people. I know painfully shy people. I know “fake sweet” people that can’t wait to talk about others behind their backs. I spent many years as part of the “I know you’re cool, but let me tell you how cool I am” crowd (aka sales guys). I know plenty of toppers. What’s a topper??? Her’s an example. Me: “I went fishing last weekend and caught three nice trout!” Topper: “I went fishing too, but I caught eight” Me: “cool, my biggest was 16 inches” Topper: “Nice, my biggest was 34 inches” Me: “On the way back to the truck I stepped in a hole and twisted my ankle” Topper: “That sucks. On the way back to my truck I fell in a sink hole, had to be lifted out by a helicopter, flown to the hospital, and treated for two broken legs, got 50 stitches, and had my right thumb reattached.” You get the idea. But what I can’t understand is why a basic stranger would WANT to stand that close to another person.
Don’t get me wrong. I love dancing cheek to cheek with my wife. I am perfectly comfortable giving a “bro hug” to a pal I haven’t seen in a while. But if I need to use something that is generally towed behind my truck to keep you out of my personal space, we have a problem. If you are reading this and can’t understand the fuss, you are probably a Close Talker. And if you are, please take one step further back than you want to. Because the next time this situation occurs, I’m not retreating. As much as it will make my skin crawl, I will advance on you like the aforementioned Mongols until you get the message. It’s just weird….