I can’t count on both hands the number of conversations I’ve had with people about creepy creepers and all of the creepy things that they do…. but as I was driving to New Mexico the other day, I started thinking about all of the things I do that are creepy. Maybe they’re not objectively creepy, but reasonable human beings would probably perceive then as creepy…. or maybe I’m just lying to myself. I know I’m not the only one who worries about this, but I thought I’d put it all out there, because that is what I do. So, I’m Yael, and here are the creepy (or ideally, just quirky and weird) things that I do.
1. I send people anonymous gifts.
The gifts are normal. I swear. But sometimes I’ll see a book or CD or something I want someone to have, but it would be weird if they knew I sent it. I don’t want them to think they have to send me something or that I have weird ulterior motives, so I’ll go to great lengths to send it anonymously. It’s becoming harder and harder since Amazon and Ebay totally sell me out, but at least I can secretly and anonymously send people Reddit Gold. (Yes, that was probably me.)
2. I send people weird things non-anonymously, too.
I’m not as bad as my friend Billy, who once mailed me a doll he mutilated which he said was an art project when I told him we had to talk. However, I do have a tendency to send people strange things. Like, sometimes I use this comic book app to send people pictures of themselves as drawings, or I use Poetweet to create sonnets, indrisos, and rondels comprised of people’s tweets and then send it to them. I also sent someone a Unicorns Are Jerks coloring book to expose the cold, hard, sparkly truth, and I don’t know if he had the same reaction as I did when Billy sent me that deformed Cabbage Patch kid. I never know if people like what I send or are just too polite to complain about it. I also send people poems I’ve read that I think they’ll like, but nobody ever responds. So yeah. Probably creepy.
3. I’ve probably
stalked researched you online.
Stalking is the new research, isn’t it? But sometimes I’ve taken this to extremes, looking at YouTube videos from 2007 or the 10th page of Google or those public Facebook pics from people who I don’t send a friend request to because we’re not actually friends. Whenever I find a new tool, I usually look up a dozen or so people I know on it. My “research” excuse is probably bullshit because I probably don’t need to know about an MMA fighter’s traffic tickets to interview them about an upcoming fight… (But I was trying to paint a picture! Yeah, no.) If you know me, I’ve probably looked you up on Crystal to figure out how to better word an email. I’ve also probably read your out-of-print book, if you have one, or even your ex-girlfriend’s book. I may have read your dissertation. I try to keep this on the DL because people would probably be totally weirded out if you knew how much I knew about them, but probably keeping it secret is even creepier. On very rare occasions, people have told me all sorts of things because they thought I’d know anyway, and they were wrong. So even writing about my, uh, research problem is probably creepy.
Oh, and it gets worse. In the past, I’ve used ToutApp and other tools to tell me when people were clicking on links I sent them or opening emails I sent. I’ve stopped doing this now because I write about privacy and people would kill me, and because it made several of my friends uncomfortable, but I think I still have the creepy gene that compels me to do this.
4. I hold onto my phone will showing you pictures and take my laptop to the potty.
Not only will I bore you to tears with photos you probably don’t even want to see, I’ll also make you feel like a criminal by holding onto my phone while doing so. I’ve also had a lot of strange looks and questions about why I’ll leave my wallet and such out on a table but take my phone and laptop to the bathroom with me. I guess you could call it being security conscious, but I figure if someone steals my wallet, it affects nobody but me. I mean, you don’t know what else is on my laptop or cell phone, or what it’s been on..
5. Oops, I called your cell…
Yesterday I called someone’s cell phone number rather than his work number. I would’ve been creeped out. I don’t even know how I got his non-work number on my phone, but there it is. He said it was okay but it was super creepy and I felt bad. Anyway, this is one of the creepy things that I accidentally do. Then I apologize for it profusely which is even more awkward and creepy. I’ve also been known to call what I thought was a work number at some weird hour hoping to leave a voicemail message before I forgot and gotten a real person. Oops.
6. I am super awkward.
When I’m not making jokes that people don’t understand or find funny, I’m taking things that aren’t literal way too literally. When there aren’t awkward silences, I’m rambling way too much. I’ve been known to stumble over my words, splain basic information to experts by mistake while trying to make conversation, and so forth. Good thing I can make a living writing from the confines of a secret, soundproof closet. I’ll lock myself in.
7. Remember that thing you said in 2009?
Sometimes I bring things up from ages ago. I remember tiny details people have forgotten about, much to their dismay. I mean, who does that? SO creepy.
8. I put 2+2 together. Oops.
One time I asked a housemate where she was hiking, since I noticed her filling up a water bottle and she only did that right before going on a hike, and it really freaked her out. I am often completely oblivious about things that should be obvious and figure out the hard ones, in my quest to fulfill the archetype of the absent-minded professor. (Are those guys creepy, or what?)
9. I try to interpret all those offhand things you say.
I am happily married, and my incredibly patient husband will always humor me and explain the minutiae to me of why he selected one word over another and why it may not mean what I think it means. This doesn’t stop me from obsessing over random things other people say, trying to figure out the hidden meaning. I’ll go to great lengths to try to determine the specific meaning of slang from other countries, ask people in similar professions if there’s another way to interpret something someone said, and so forth. I don’t do this all the time or with everyone, but some glitch in my brain makes me susceptible to this, and my close friends get to hear all about it. At least they accept me for who I am…
10. I really want to be OMGBFFs with people who don’t like me.
I took a StrengthsFinder test once and it told me that my biggest strength was WOO, which stands for winning others over. I personally think it’s my biggest character defect. I have this running list of people I think are really cool that I sense don’t like me. Maybe I think they’re cool because they don’t like me. Maybe we just don’t resonate, but I still want to be friends with them anyway simply because I can’t. One time a tech writer whose book I read blocked me on Twitter (long story), so I stalked him on LinkedIn, sent him a typo that I found, and tried to convince him that we should be friends (or at least to unblock me). One time I was at a Brazilian jiu-jitsu class and my teammate was talking smack (I thought playfully) and I gave it right back and he said we shouldn’t train together anymore (I swear I was joking). I spent the next few months trying to win him back over and finally asked him to train again and promised not to talk. We’re cool now, but I still have about three people on my list right now. I have no idea why I do this, but there it is.
I was hoping that by writing this, I’d make quirky but well-meaning people feel less creepy themselves, or even worry a little less about my own quirks. I’m not sure it worked, but…feel free to share some things on your list with me, either publicly or privately. Some of my best friends can be creeps, I swear it.