I attempt to stick my entire fist in my mouth. Not long after, it will be my foot.

I attempt to stick my entire fist in my mouth. Not long after, it will be my foot.

Oh, shit.

I’m not perfect, right? I’ve never pretended otherwise. Next week I’m devoting an entire post to WTF was going on with my hair in Scotland. I can’t even give the semblance of normality for one-tenth of a second. I am a tragically flawed and neurotic person, and I’ve been lucky enough in life to have found someone who finds my many shortcomings to be charming.

Thank god, because they seem to scare the bejeesus out of everyone else.

The point is, this is clearly not the first Dick Move! or even the fifteenth I’ve committed in recent history. It’s more like the 79th or so, but usually, I don’t feel that badly about my actions (remember the bit about being tragically flawed?). I acknowledge that a Dick Move! was executed, and most of the time whoever experienced it had it coming. In this case, I’m pretty sure I scared some poor man so desperately, and violated his privacy on so many levels that he had trouble sleeping that night.

Here’s what happened:

We flew in from London yesterday afternoon. As usual, I was ridiculously tired, owing to the fact that I can’t sleep at all on planes. We were waiting in line to go through passport check, and I glanced at the man standing behind me, holding his blue U.S. citizen immigration form. My eyes caught the last name on the form, which happens to be my mother’s maiden name.

Now, my mom’s maiden name is by no means common. I’ve literally never met, read about, or heard of someone outside of my family having that last name. I suppose it’s more common in a few parts of Italy, but that’s about it. So when I saw the guy’s last name, my excitement overtook any level of fatigue.

“OH MY GOD! Your last name is _________? That’s my mom’s maiden name! That’s amazing. I’ve never met anyone outside our family with that last name.”

At this point, the guy just started at me, and understandably so. I mean, I’m staring at his immigration form, which has him name and address and a bunch of other personal information on it, and I’ve let him know I’ve done so, rather shamelessly.

I realized that perhaps I needed to backpeddle a bit.

“I’m so sorry – I shouldn’t have looked at your form – but the name caught my eye. I mean, it’s not all that common, is it?”

He seemed to warm up at this.

“No, not it’s not really,” he said. “Not outside of Naples, anyway.”

Of course. I mean, my grandfather is from Naples, so this all made sense. Somewhere far, far back, this guy and I were totally related. I felt like I had undid some of the damage I initially caused, so my totally defunct brain decided to remedy that.

“So what’s your first name?” I blurted out.

Holy Christ in heaven, please tell me what is wrong with me. The guy stared at me, trying to figure out if I was going to make a dress out of his skin or something. He looked somewhat mortified. It’s moments like these I am incredibly thankful that I am not, say, a creepy old man (or even a creepy young man) and am hopefully a pretty innocuous looking woman. Nevertheless, he hesitated a lot before finally saying his first name, and in that time, I became acutely aware, even in my sleep-deprived state, of just how inappropriate my questions were.

“Oh,” I said, when he finally told me his first name, which was disappointingly neither Italy nor familial. “I was just curious if you had my grandfather’s name.” Which I then told him. I realize that my offering up of information about myself didn’t exactly level the playing field, but it did make me feel a bit better.

After we went through security (with nary a question), the true embarassment of my intrusiveness hit me. I mean, Christ – as though going through security and customs isn’t enough, this guy really didn’t need me asking him questions on top of that. Rand, apparently, had noticed the guy’s immigration form, too, before I did, but noted that he chose not to say anything to either the guy or to me (but hey, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Rand’s a better person than I am).

The guy could have easily taken offense, which he didn’t, or perhaps made a scene, which thankfully we mostly avoided. He also could have told me to mind my own fucking business, I suppose, which he did not (though he really could have, and been pretty justified in doing so). Instead, he just looked moderately freaked, after what must have been a long flight.

After all, his home address is Hamburg, Germany and – AUGHHH!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? I shouldn’t have looked at the address on his suitcase.

The point is, Dick Move, Everywhereist. Keep your eyes on your own stuff, even when curiousity and sleep are overwhelming you.

Full list of categories:  Dick Move
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Comments (10)

  1. 1

    Geraldine you should not beat yourself up for simply being ‘you’…..after all, the world really needs people like you, who are unafraid of speaking to strangers and striking up conversations. Why? Because without you more of us would stay strangers, and that’s a very sad thing. Connecting with other humans, even if it’s only for a few moments in passing, is a great thing. Keep doing it. :)

  2. 2
    Laura says:

    Ha. Here I was all worried that I was turning into my mother, but it turns out that YOU are the one turning into my mother.

    Not that my mother is a dick, but she would have totally done the same thing in this situation – because she is a connector – like Trisha says, we need people like you and my mom.

  3. 3
    Peter Cooper says:

    No way, you did the right thing. Life is short and breaking the sameness of it all by interacting with strangers is half the fun. Even if I looked at them a bit weird, I love it when (non threatening) strangers strike up bizarre conversations with me, even if I don’t show it at the time. You’ve given this guy a story to tell his wife/kids/whatever a few times over the next couple of weeks. Keep it up!

  4. 4
    Everywhereist says:

    Wow – thanks, everyone. I appreciate the comments and support – While I definitely will continue to engage people (or try to), I might avoid using their personal information as an ice-breaker.

    And Laura – I think I’m turning into MY mother. Though she really wouldn’t understand what the problem was. (Also, the world needs more people like your mom. I like that she talks to everyone).

  5. 5
    Deanna says:

    For what it’s worth, at Heathrow I had the poo scared out of me after a long flight by a gal about my age that I had never seen before with fucknuts-crazy eyes demanding “DO YOU GO TO SCHOOL IN DC BECAUSE I THINK I KNOW YOU.” Once I recovered my ability to speak we struck up a conversation, turns out we were on our way to the same study program and were wonderful drinking buddies until we graduated. Moral being, SOMEONE has to be a social butterfly, and it might as well be you. It keeps the rest of us antisocial crabs from completely withdrawing into our iPod headphones and keeps your blog in content.

  6. 6
    Everywhereist says:

    Deanna – I’ve actually had to tone stuff like that down, because, frankly, my memory spooks people out. I’m usually able to recount very specific things about a person (like what they were wearing the day I met them) and since they don’t remember me at all, it gets really awkward (and occasionally they’re mortified and want to run and hide).

    That being said, someone’s got to do the dirty work – that is, the socializing. And I’m glad that crazy girl connected with you. :) Viva awkwardness!

  7. 7
    chrissy says:

    dear g, i see nothing wrong with what you did! i agree with other people’s responses. we love you for being you. you are wonderful! i would most definitely remove this from the “dick move” column… but i have to say, i love that it exists. ;) xoxo!

  8. 8
    Philip says:

    Well, you clearly have his address, so you could write to apologize. Wait, maybe that won’t help.

  9. 9
    randfish says:

    Honestly, I didn’t say anything because I’m convinced that any behavior except a smile and a friendly nod could get me thrown into a Guantanamo prison. There’s so many horror stories about people doing perfectly innocent things and getting utterly molested by TSA that I just try to get through fast and attract no attention whatsoever. I never feel as in danger of losing my liberty as I do between the tarmac and the security exit.

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