I'd missed the warning signs that my neighbor had started stalking me. At first, her actions more closely resembled a benign pest. Now I realize that her initial actions fell into these stalking categories: “just happens to show up when the victim shows up” and “demonstrates odd fixations on the victim’s life.”
The Neighbor, however, thought that too-short doormat was great. She told me so, as I was coming home from work one day. After our initial introduction, she started intercepting me just before I got my key in the lock. I’d hear her lunge across her side of the duplex before jerking her door open. Bam! There she’d be, radiating excitement. On that day, she greeted me with, “Your doormat. Where did you get it?”
That feeling of being jumped on at arrival was taxing. How in the world did she always hear me arrive? Did she wait by the window? It was a constant awkward balance: faking pleasantries to mask my inner alarm, while deftly cutting the conversation short.
I smiled. Told her the hardware store name. Used body language to indicate I needed to go. The Neighbor missed the clue, and continued talking. “Good. I’m getting a doormat just like yours. That way we can match and be the same.” She pointed from her door to mine, radiating pleasure. “Same, same.”
Matching doormats? I was getting mildly uneasy again. The Neighbor already recited, in detail, all the repairs I did on my side of the duplex. What else was she watching? If I replaced Too Short, would The Neighbor then want to match the new one? Think I purposely switched doormats, after she bought its mate? Freak if they didn’t match?
Was I really over-thinking a stupid doormat?
It was a little like a girl I knew from the dorm. Called her Velcro. Granted, she was a scared freshman who needed a friend. However, she drove me mental at about Day 10 of the New College Experience. Velcro re-arranged her schedule to match mine. (Even our potty breaks synched.) Blathered how we were so much alike. (We weren’t.) Told me I was her best! friend! ever! while laying her head on my shoulder, gazing into my eyes. (I needed a shower after that episode, and when Velcro saw my towel and soap in hand, decided it was time for her to take a shower, too.)
I finally faked Velcro out. Announced to a group that Velcro “just happened” to be in, that I was going to that weekend’s football game. Then “forgot” to actually go. It was my first peaceful night. Velcro: gone, spending all evening searching for me in the stadium. Me: feeling bad, but deciding my one-way ticket to Hell for that stunt was worth one evening of reading Sherlock Holmes in peace. Velcro left me alone after that.
Maybe I could fake out The Neighbor, too.