My hilarious friend, Stephanie Hopkins, has a new on-line column called “Love Notes,” and last week she wrote my all-time favorite post about Facebook stalking. You all know that anything involving stalking is of interest to me, but Stephanie really gets it all down in this one—the search, the shame, the discovery, the nausea, the joy!
Anyway, Stephanie’s column inspired me to write about some of the kinds of stalking that didn’t make it into my first book The Stalker Chronicles. Think of it as a handy (or scary) taxonomy. Stephanie, this post is dedicated to you.
Before I get to that though, it strikes me that being a teenager in the 80s left me with three stalker images: Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction (the Lady Stalker), John Cusack in Say Anything (the Romantic Boy Stalker), and Mark David Chapman (the Criminal Stalker). So basically if someone says the word “stalker” I think of one of these people. Who do you think of?
1. Dog Walking Stalking – For several years in my late twenties, I was lucky enough to live with the super agent, John Buzzetti (this was long before he was a super agent and just my friend). Anyway, Johnny had a dog, Foxxy, and we (Foxxy and I) spent a lot of time walking around Williamsburg, pretending to bump into cute guys by total accident. Oh my god, you live here? My dog is obsessed with this fire hydrant.
2. Shopping and Stalking – This happens when you pretend to be addicted to a certain kind of coffee, undershirt, avant-garde poetry section just so that you can ogle, chat up, and otherwise annoy some underpaid clerk in a store. This is highly effective method of stalking because unless they quit their job, these poor suckers can’t get away. My husband reminded me of this one. Hey, wait a minute.
3. The Swoon (aka I’m so tired, injured, confused, and/or sad I can’t leave your apartment, bed, arms, car). I suppose the Bronte sisters came up with this one, but in truth I was doing this long before I knew who Jane Eyre was, what that meany did to her in the red room, and the clarifying powers of a brisk walk on the heath. I think I first learned its true powers when I was at Environmental Camp in the summer between the 10th and 11th grade and I had a HUGE obsessive crush on one of our counselors, Mike. We all did and he was pretty much all we talked about while pretending to be interested global warming (hey, it was 1987, global warming wasn’t THAT scary yet) and the healing powers of gorp and tiger balm. But on the last night, I (mistress of grace that I am) managed to trip on a log during a skit about eagles and mice and break my arm. I was in a lot of pain, and I somehow decided that I couldn’t walk even though it was arm that was broken not my leg, and this got Mike to CARRY ME back to the infirmary!!! I will never forget the jealous stares of my fellow bunkmates as Mike whisked me away. I was giddy from his touch. I thought, “Hey this isn’t too bad. My arms may be busted in five places, but Mike is carrying me!” You see how my brain works? Priorities, friends, that’s what it’s always been about with me.
Warning: there are dangers associated with this one, perhaps more than all the others. You have to count on chivalry and I hear that’s dead. You will be told by certain crushes in no-uncertain terms to Pick up your shit and hit the bricks. I have been asked to leave apartments, houses, and various porches. I have swooned and not been caught. There’s also the injuries—how much pain can you take? I was willing to break my own arm to get Mike to carry me, but maybe you’re not that dedicated. You will have to know your limits before you begin. Finally, there’s trust. I have tended not to swoon around frat houses, beer pong games, wrestling matches, and football stadiums. Because the energy is not right in those places. There’s way too much testosterone there and we don’t want things to get scary. Besides my experiences with football players in high school showed me that they’d much rather trample me than catch me.
4. Smell Stalking (aka The Sneaky Sniff) – I know this will gross out many of you, and well, I’m sorry, but I’m an ethnographer here and my job is to report my findings not to judge them. I have talked about this with a couple of ladies and many gay men and we have all copped to various attempts (most successful) to smell the clothing—shirt, jacket, underwear, socks, and pants—of crushes when given the opportunity. For example, my lady friend’s crush decides she has to pee; so my friend sniffs the butt of her jeans while she’s in the bathroom. Here’s another: My friend’s therapist leaves the room to check on something, so my friend takes that free, supposedly reflective moment to sniff at the armpits of his jacket which is hanging on the back of the door. She is not unrewarded. She relays to me, I smelled him! He smelled good! And then I thought, Oh my god, he’s coming back into the room and I’m going to get caught and we will have to talk about this forever!! Transference is complicated people, and so are “friends.”
5. Creeping – My students use this word. I confess I don’t know what it means. I think it’s a subtle form of stalking, but I also think why bother? Lurking around, not saying much, acting weird? To me, that’s just living or maybe it’s being shy. Also, don’t they have meds nowadays to kill shyness? Maybe if I use it in a sentence, it will make more sense. Oh my god, she’s such a creeper. She’s just always standing there in the lobby of our dorm, staring at us, not saying anything.
6. Subway Eyes – This one is for experienced New Yorkers only. You look, you look away, you look, you look away. Don’t look for too long and don’t smile. You don’t want to look like some wide-eyed, happy tourist from the Midwest. You’re a busy person. You’re on your way to something unfathomably cool, which definitely does not involve a preschool, a lunch box, or drafts of student essays. You look, you look away, you look, you look away.