Staring Stan

Have you ever been seriously stared at before? I’m not talking about catching someone looking just before he turns quickly away. I mean someone who is fixated, eyes locked, seemingly unashamed…staring. If the guy was a stranger, label him a creepy stalker, and get on with life (hopefully never seeing the wierdo again). But my Staring Stan is someone I know. He is someone I’ve known for a long time. Should I ask why he is staring at me? What if he denies it? Seriously, I SAW you! Maybe he claims he was just spacing out? He wasn’t. Staring is staring. It happened repeatedly and intensely enough that it occurred to me to make sure I was fully clothed.

In high school, staring made sense. Teenage boys stare at teenaged girls, but high school was over twenty five years ago. I’m not a circus freak. Stop staring!

Really, I should be staring at him. What happened ? He used to be fun. He used to know how to relax. He used to have a personality, but we chose different paths: He recreated the “Leave it to Beaver” household with his perfect wife and two beautiful children. I did not select a spouse or give birth. I also didn’t become a completely different person. Maybe he is staring because he recognizes that I’m still me. I haven’t changed. Somehow I missed the chapter about growing up where everyone casts off their younger selves and becomes middle aged stereotypes who follow around behind their spouse saying “yes, dear”.

He is exactly the kind of guy HE used to make fun of.

Ironically, he now looks at me the way I looked at him twenty years ago. The expression is of mixed awe and disbelief, as if the object of attention is so amazing, it seems unreal. Does he wonder how his life might have turned out if he didn’t become someone else’s husband? Is he trying to recapture a sliver of a life he no longer lives? If so, then what he sees truly is unreal, but I know the feeling. It’s that moment, on the cusp of waking from a really good dream. You force your eyes shut tighter to hold on, but at that point, it’s already too late.

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