On Walking and Stalking

HERE’s a riddle to end all riddles!

So there I am, at the supermarket, going up the escalator toward the exit. Gotta get home and COOK this business! Who should be standing in front of me but a young woman. Me, and then a few steps ahead of me, the young woman. She exits the building. I exit, still a few steps behind. She turns right. MY destination is to the right. We walk along in a straight line for awhile. She starts to get suspicious. “Why is this foreign man with stubble following me? It’s night. That’s soooo sketchy.” Aware of this train of thought, I start to FEEL sketchy. “Why am I following this woman who’s going in the same direction as my apartment? Why aren’t I taking a detour to put her mind at ease, waiting until she’s out of my field of vision, and then returning to my original course?”

She glances behind herself, at me. I look down. Nothing sketchier than a guy looking at you. Deliberately, she turns right, down a dark alley. She’s not HEADING to the right. She’s taking a detour.

But what if my destination happened to be to the right? Then what? The obvious choice would be to just speed up and walk past her. I’ve got gangly spider legs. But then you’ve got that extra-awkward moment where you’re RIGHT BEHIND HER, plus you’ll be breathing heavy from the sudden acceleration, not to mention drooling because you’re hungry to eat that dinner you just bought, and then plus you may not have your fly up, depending on the whimsy of the powers that be. So what do you do?

What do you do?

Luckily, my destination was not to the right. She took one more glance my way as she curved into the darkness, just to confirm that I wasn’t raping her. I looked her square in the eye. “I’m the nicest goddamned guy you’ve ever walked in front of,” I said. She turned away and kept walking. But I like to think that for just a moment, she was ashamed.

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