Did I ever mention that I am an irony magnet?
This is an important baseline state of reality to establish for new readers who might otherwise question how my Partner and I, specifically, ended up being the second and third of (hopefully only) three residents of a large urban city stuck explaining the intricacies of Pokemon Go to a drunk “friend” supposedly hiding from his “ex-girlfriend” at our table at Shake Shack while thousands of gaming confederates across the country caught their Bagon unaccosted during Community Day.
Since that drunk “friend” specifically requested “cover” while he snuck away to the nearest subway entrance, our experience thus represents the sixth valid trial of my subway sociology experiment. My original hypothesis was that the line I take to improv is statistically “weirder” than nearby lines. My current tally of blog-worthy baffles runs 4:2 in favor of the line in question. Suggestive, but not at all statistically significant, especially when properly controlling for my own frequency of line ridership.
My Partner, however, wishes for me to note that I have potentially overlooked two additional hypotheses worthy of testing: a) my irony magnet superpowers extend to subways and b) there are statistically higher rates of oddball experiences on all subway lines (as well as in general) whenever I am nearby. He pointed out that my having previously mentioned hydration drinks being advertised on public transit as hangover remedies without actually describing any real-life interactions with their target audience could be construed as daring the universe to offer me up a live specimen. Irony. Magnet. (He also suggested, after he had finally forced our “friend” out into the wilds again, that I should refrain in the future from being the one to nab seats for the two of us even in a crowded fast food joint well over its listed capacity of 131 people. The risk of my irony powers kicking in is just too high whenever I’m talking to strangers for even a minute…)
The first part of our event progressed as per our normal routine. We went to a popular park and joined huge crowds catching the dragon-type Pokemon (finally earning our dragon-type gold badges in the process) and fighting legendary raid battles. Even with my trusty cane – which really does help and leaves me very grateful for a prior chance encounter with a spoonie player who recommended one – I was thoroughly out of spoons about an hour and a half into the event. It was an unexpectedly warm, sunny day. I am usually simply done by this point, and we stop to eat midway through so I can rest.
We’re usually among only a handful of people that will stop into nearby eateries for a break that early, but yesterday I guess I wasn’t the only one to succumb. When we hit up a nearby Shake Shack, it was stuffed to the brim, and my Partner determined he would stand in line to order while I hovered around the dining area to nab the first available seats. I got very lucky (perhaps too lucky?), and I noticed two diners – one with his phone already in hand reflecting the distinctive Pokemon map – rising to leave almost as soon as I got to the dining room. I assumed they had stopped, as we were currently stopping, for a quick pick-me-up and were heading out for the second half of the event. The two diners were similar in apparent age and seemed comfortable with each other. I assumed they were friends who had shared a meal, finished, and were now heading out together. The first of the pair – a very normal-seeming not-drunk Pokemon player – said that the table was available when I inquired. The pair rounded the corner towards the front of the restaurant, and I plopped down at their former table, grateful for the dedication of other players and for air conditioning…
At that point my irony magnet powers presumably activated, causing the second of the pair of mid-twenties diners to come back around the corner and take a seat across from me at what was now my table. The second of the pair hadn’t spoken during our brief exchange, but he was quite chatty when he returned. He immediately drunkenly announced we were going to be “friends” for a bit because he needed to wait out an ex who was “not over him” and who had spotted him through the window as he was trying to leave. He couldn’t face her because she was a “stalker,” so he was staying at my table until it was safe to leave.
That in and of itself was weird. I found it even weirder that – not only was he claiming he was sufficiently afraid of this phantom ex that he had to seek safety with a stranger – his other “friend” did not come looking for him. The drunk claimed he had been there with him, but – as he was also claiming we were “friends” by this point – I took his claims with a grain of salt appropriately large enough for a girl with dysautonomia who had just walked around in the heat for two hours. Presumably, any real “friend” – not a forced “friend” – wouldn’t have left him incapacitated with a potential “stalker” about. I rather suspected that he had attached himself to his previous “friend” in much the same fashion as he was trying to attach himself to me. (Not cool of that other weirdness magnet who first got saddled with him, assuming that was what happened, by the way, to then stick me with him to get away. Not cool at all. Weirdness magnets should look out for each other, not use each other as diversions!)
I made it extremely clear that I was not there alone. I had a Partner, and he would be along shortly. I’m not sure that my drunken “friend” could have actually pulled anything in the presence of 130+ other diners, but better safe than sorry. I still held my phone up to make sure he saw that I was live-texting my Partner right then.
The drunk took my raised phone as an invitation to ask about what a Lapras was, as he had been told (I’m guessing by his previous “friend”) to claim he was merely catching them when his ex-girlfriend inevitably cornered him and asked what he had been doing all day. At this point, my Partner arrived and also tried to “rescue” us, but he also could not shuck the guy, even after he had literally helped him install the Pokemon Go app on his phone, catch a couple of random level 1 Bagon and spin the stop attached to the fast food place itself to help develop a ruse that would hold up under his ex’s “psycho questioning.” I helpfully explained that stalking was (*cough cough*) not okay, and if his ex – or (*cough cough*) anyone else – ever forced themselves far enough into someone else’s personal space (*cough cough*) to be able to read a phone, then they were (*cough cough*) already in the wrong.
The drunk then looked through the window, again convinced himself he saw something and tried to hide under the table. At this point, his left-field brainstorm that one of us should just “cover him” while he ran to the nearest subway seemed like the quickest solution. There was a subway entrance within line of sight of the door to the Shake Shack, it was broad daylight, and there were the aforementioned hundred-plus people also in the Shake Shack with us and huge crowds outside. My Partner walked an un-pick-pocketable distance from our “friend” to the door, stepped through it, held it open and thus interposed himself between the direction from which the supposed “stalker ex” was watching and the entrance.
With that – and a final reminder of what a Lapras was because our “friend” still seemed to think it mattered – the stray snuck out the door. He made it a few feet before stopping and looking confused about what he was even doing. We are unclear whether there was ever really an ex-girlfriend nearby, whether she had ever actually seen him, and whether, if she had, she had ever even cared. We presume he made it to his subway entrance, though the crowd provided sufficient “cover” we can’t officially say.
The experience, was, overall, weird. How – out of all of the literally hundred-plus sober and sensible people diners who would have liked nothing more than to never exchange a single word with me – did I once again manage to unerringly attract the one outlier of urban humanity? I am not generally a social person. I’ve actually been told I manage a pretty good “go the eff away” look, especially among crowds, in fact.
Yet, I have mostly developed that “go the eff away” look (which sadly did not work on my “friend” from yesterday) exactly because I’m socially anxious, awkward, and have managed to have too many run-ins with randos. I’ve found it useful, especially since I have no idea what about me attracts such randos. I can’t convincingly argue that my being female was the strongest indicator, as my drunken “friend’s” original “friend” was male. I’m older than his original “friend,” too. I can’t convincingly argue that my being alone was the strongest indicator, as there were additional hovering “loners” clearly scouting tables for two or more in that Shake Shack as their compatriots stood in line. I just seem to be the person more often in the right place at the “right” – aka wrong – time than one would expect by
rando random chance.
The data is still out on my original subway hypothesis. But, unless I and my Partner are way off in our control estimates for the frequency of “weird subway-related” (and maybe just “weird people-related”) encounters by city dwellers over a two-year period, my Partner’s corollary hypothesis that my irony magnet superpowers will continue to make for a thriving blog series seems well supported by evidence to date.
Need a recap of anything I’m talking about in any post? Check out the Glossary of Terms.