Morningside Writers Group didn't prepare me for a would-be workshop member stalker. I know that nerves are usually part of the screening process, but never in my writer's imagination would I have scripted what happened.
I interviewed an applicant for the fiction group earlier this year. It was an easy conversation. We sat for about an hour and half because I wasn’t pressed for time as I am on most days.
I’d arrived earlier to stake out a chair – it’s Starbucks, so you know it’s usually crowded.
I placed my jacket on the high chair next to me at the window bar to hold the seat for her.
She arrived and asked if it was okay to place her jacket atop mine. Innocent enough, I thought, and we proceeded to meet and greet, talk about Morningside.
This is where it gets murky.
At some point during our interview or immediately thereafter as she stood to put on her jacket – her hand accidentally (yes, I said accidentally) falls, slips into my pocket and out with my keys into her pocket or purse unknown to me.
Confusion ensues after the fact. How in the hell did she NOT realize that she’d accidentally slipped her hand into my pocket and had my keys in her fingers?
Off she went in one direction, and I to the new grocery store next door to Starbucks uptown, and then on to C-Town.
It wasn’t until I was standing on the front stoop, hand in pocket, three full grocery bags at my feet did I realize I didn’t have my keys where I remember they were when I locked my apartment door on the way to meet her.
I turned my pockets, jacket, backpack, anything within sight upside down and inside out. No keys.
I looked around for the crew of Punk’d. Nope. Didn’t see Ashton or Demi nearby, and then I panic. ( I still don’t know that she has my keys on her person and on the way home.)
I called my roommate. Refused to return my mother’s call from earlier. I am a big boy. This is silly. My keys, well, they fell into my backpack, somehow, right?
Off I go back to Starbucks and one of the two grocery stores. Scavenger hunt revealed nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Crazy thought. What if somehow (the applicant) picked up my keys from the inside of my jacket when she pulled her waist coat from mine? I called, left voice mail sounding every bit uncertain and embarrassed. It felt accusatory.
I call mom by this point. I’m certain someone’s followed me, knows where I live, and will rob me.
The applicant returns my call. She was apologetic and offered to meet me in the city to hand over the keys. I was just happy that they weren’t lost.
Harp music …..
Roommate drives me to Time Warner Center to meet her and pick up the keys. She’s profusely apologetic, again. She has to make it up to me. I must let her make it up to me. I refused. It’s an honest mistake (right, I ask myself).
She doesn’t relent. No, you must let me make it up to you. Okay, I say. Maybe just coffee or a small token … (back inside my head) You really don’t have to. She doesn’t back down until I agree to dinner. I joked, well, my birthday is next month.
On the down the escalator she says, "At least you’ll remember me now."
Cue theme from Fatal Attraction.