The adventures of a New Jersey college professor with very strange friends, colleagues, and family members.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Watch Out, James Bond!

In the mid-1990s, anti-stalking laws went into effect in New Jersey, making the punishment for stalking anything from a fine to several years in jail. Fortunately, for my friend Kim, these laws were as of yet unwritten in our senior year of college, otherwise she might be behind bars today.

It was the second semester of senior year, and thoughts of graduation danced in our heads. Kim was taking her last Secondary Education class (her goal was to become a high-school English teacher), and in the class was a quiet, unassuming guy named Frank.

Kim latched on to Frank immediately. He was exactly her type: short, Italian, and a little stupid. She began to talk about him all the time, and finally dragged me to the class so I could meet him and give my approval. He seemed nice, but…nothing special.

Kim continued to blather about how attractive he was (he wasn’t), how smart he was (he wasn’t), and how he would make a wonderful teacher one day (he wouldn’t). I figured this was harmless, and to be honest, I had my own problems to worry about; I was trying to get into graduate school.

It started to get weird one night when Kim showed up at my house wielding binoculars. “We’re going to spy on Frank,” she announced.

Bewildered, I got in the car and we headed for campus, where Frank had a late night class. We parked outside the building, and when the class let out, Kim aimed the binoculars at the front door. She spotted Frank and began squealing. Her beady little eyes followed Frank to his car (a 1987 black Mustang), and then she turned to me with a manic look. “Let’s follow him!”

What?” I asked, bewildered.

“Let’s follow him home!” she said. “I want to see where he lives!”

“Oh, Jesus.”

Poor, unsuspecting Frank rocketed down the Garden State Parkway, with Kim (and me) in close pursuit. After half an hour of this, he pulled off into a very affluent residential area and eventually pulled into a driveway. Kim idled down the street, and watched (with the binoculars) as Frank schlepped into his house.

"Well," I said, nonplussed, "at least he has money."

Kim stepped it up a notch after that. She found out that Frank worked as the night manager at a McDonald’s right off campus. Every night she would put me in the car and we would go to the McDonald’s, sit across the street in the parking lot of a bank, and stare at the drive-through window with the binoculars. (I could just imagine how this would look to the police). Kim kept up an endless narration of how cute he was, handing patrons their hamburgers and McNuggets, but never got up the gumption to actually go into the McDonald’s herself, even though she actually knew Frank legitimately.

And, of course, after he got off shift, we would follow him home again just to watch him walk into the house.

One day she came up to me wielding a camera, and asked me to take a picture of Frank, so she could frame it and keep it by her bed. I asked how the hell I was supposed to do that without him knowing it, and she said, “pretend you’re from the college newspaper.”

And so she tracked him to the Student Center where he was in line to buy some coffee, and I approached him, told him my lie, and asked if he would mind me taking his picture. He cooperated beautifully, and I got my shot. Kim was delirious, and said that she would name her first daughter after me. I felt slightly dirty.

One night, as we were sitting outside his house (I was doing homework, Kim was staring through the binoculars intently), we were terrified to see the front door open. “Duck!” Kim screamed, diving to the floor. I just held my book in front of my face.

It turned out to be only his father, putting out the garbage for the night. He dumped the garbage at the end of the driveway, not seeing us. He went back into the house.

Kim stared at the garbage with a strange, strange look in her eye.

“What are you thinking?” I asked, nervously.

“I’m going to go through his garbage,” she said, trance-like.

“Why?” I asked.

She looked at me as if I were stupid. “So I know what kind of food he likes, so I know what to cook him when we get married,” she said, soberly.

“You’re insane,” I said.

“I’m going to take the garbage home with me so I can examine it,” she said, and opened the door.

“Kim,” I said, “you are not bringing that garbage into this car. If you do, I’m getting out, knocking on the door, and telling him what’s been going on.” (This is one of the few times in my friendship with Kim that I was assertive).

I managed to talk her out of stealing the garbage, but I couldn’t persuade her to actually approach Frank and see if he might be interested in her.

During one class, Frank casually told Kim that he was going on vacation for a week at a seaside resort about an hour away from campus. On the day after Frank was scheduled to depart, Kim showed up at my house, insisting that we drive to the resort “to look for him.” I told her that we had no idea where Frank was staying, and there was no way we could ever locate him.

“It doesn’t matter,” she insisted. “We know what his car looks like. If we find his car and watch it long enough, he’ll eventually go to it. I am not missing my one chance to see Frank in a bathing suit.” And a long (and gross) monologue ensued about her speculation on Frank’s chest hair.

So off we went. We drove around the resort for hours…and hours…and hours. No sign of the Mustang, no sign of Frank. She finally admitted defeat, and to appease herself she drove to Frank’s house and we watched it for a while, hoping to at least see a member of his family.

Finally, she folded like a bad poker hand and asked me to tell Frank that she liked him Gently, of course. I was thrilled that the whole thing was almost over.

So, one night as Frank was leaving his late-night class, I accosted him in the parking lot (with Kim watching all this through the binoculars). I reintroduced myself and told him, calmly, that Kim was very interested in him. He seemed surprised, and told me that although he was very flattered, he already had a serious girlfriend. I wasn’t sure when he had the time to see this girlfriend, since Kim had accounted for all his nighttime hours. All he seemed to do was go to class, work at McDonald’s, and go home.

And so it finally ended. Frank went off to parts unknown after graduation. Frighteningly, Kim now has a position as a high-school teacher, and I sincerely hope that she has given away the binoculars.

Lock up your garbage, people.


  • At 9:48 PM, Blogger lostdwarf said…

    My boss (from a few years ago) kind of did the same thing. Not to this extent but she fell in lust with this guy and, somehow, convinced her (very married and supposedly more mature) friend to go along with her. They laid in the bed of her friend's truck, spying on this guy playing some sport, I think volley or rugby.

  • At 11:38 AM, Blogger Elizabeth Sanford-Anson said…

    “Kim continued to blather about how attractive he was (he wasn’t),”

    If Kim found him attractive, he certainly was attractive to Kim. Just because you didn’t find him attractive does not mean that he’s unquestionably unattractive. As I’ve said before, physical attractiveness is subjective.

    “Every night she would put me in the car…”

    Come now, she wasn’t “putting” you anywhere. If you agreed to get in the car and stalk the guy with her that was your choice, you do have free will after all. I do wonder why you went along with her if you found her behavior so creepy and objectionable though.


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