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.