Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I Just Want to Boink You

Men across town know me as "Sophie," an art student from Frederick. They think I am 23. But my real name is Katherine, and it is printed all over town, sometimes next to my picture. Until last Thursday when my friend said he saw my column and "cute lil' picture" in the campus paper it didn't occur to me that anyone would see my face and think there's that girl who goes on and on about nothing.
At some point while working retail I grew tired of strangers knowing my name. Retail guests would sling it around like we were pals. We were not close. During my last retail employment my friends and I switched name tags. One day I was "John" but I was usually "Cherita." I felt safer as Cherita; Cherita is not stalked through Target's parking lot to her car. I never did this in my Real Jobs, internships, or commitments, but there was never a reason to, either. Before these games I began to use monikers at Starbucks: there is a no-fat mocha latte for Jane, Charlotte, or Henrietta.
At the bar, where we are rarely found, my roommate's name is Sarah. She is from Northern Virginia, has a boyfriend, is an English major. At home she is 21, single but not available, from Maryland, and preparing to graduate with a degree in graphic design. She can keep track of facts about Sarah. Her background, family, and interests are never forgotten, which is key to keeping up with an alias. I vow that Next Time Sophie will have a boyfriend, an instant and guaranteed Creep Repellent, she will live in either Charles Village or Mount Vernon as I can lie about either neighborhood sufficiently, or maybe next time Sophie will be from Chicago's Lincoln Park, lives across from the zoo, where she spends her free time when she is not from Chicago Comics. It doesn't matter because I never remember the details about Sophie as I am a lousy liar. Lying to stangers in the smallest way is becoming increasingly natural on the bus.
My name rolls off other people's tongues comfortably. I never exit the situation feeling guilty; these people will never find me again.
This morning, waiting for the 8 around 10:25 a.m., Sophie met Paul, a 300 lb. late-20s something who wanted to "take [her] out." Sophie and Katherine are of that DC-based West Coast Breed who are not particularly in making friends. We are "reserved" and sometimes interpreted as rude when we are really uninterested (and occasionally shy). This is the crux of fake identities, people.
He asked after two minutes of introduction. At that point he knew Sophie's name, had assumed her destination, and had asked her several time what she "does for fun." Sophie said she studies and watches TV for fun. And then he asked her, and Sophie said no. Where was that darn bus, anyway? This is awkward.
I don't do that, Sophie said. When Paul asked what "that" was, she said Relationships. Date. That.
"I'm not lookin' for no relationship," he said, to which Katherine was repulsed. And not because I didn't know what he wanted. I knew. It was that he admitted it with an inference that he picks up girls at the bus stop all the time. Ew. Got some time to pass before the next bus comes, 10 minutes at least, might as well let this girl know I'd like to get intimate. At the next stop, I have to wait about 15 minutes, maybe a girl there would like to get intimate, too!
Paul keeps asking Sophie what she does for fun, and finally she adds that sometimes, she likes to read. She is buried in books. Sophie would like to listen to the music that's in her earbuds now, Paul, she infers, maybe you could find something else to do.
Paul doesn't, not even when the bus approached and Sophie exclaims, "THANK GOD, IT'S FINALLY HERE."
He almost sits next to Sophie on the bus too, but sits a few rows behind her. I make sure the music Sophie and I are "sharing" is especially loud. Paul engages in a heated debate with another passenger and I'm not interested in what he has to say.
Thanks, Paul! It was a displeasure to meet you.


And what does Katherine do for fun? She meets her deadlines, goes to concerts, steers clear of creeps like you, and makes abstract Polaroid portraits. Now please go away so I may board this bus in peace.

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