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Stranger Danger



It was Spring in Chicago. Well, that’s one way to put it. Another way, is to say that it was sometime between St Paddy’s and the Cubs opener, somewhere between Wrigleyville and Lincoln Park. This is the magical space where late 20-somethings transform into beer-hungry teenagers.

I – with my sister and a collection of cousins – planned a big night out. This is the same family where at Easter brunch my uncle informed the waitstaff, “one vodka tonic waiting behind the one I’m drinking, so that I don’t have to wait on you, please and thank you.” My cousins were in rare form this night and sucking up the attention like a black hole. It got to a point in the evening when the young cousins were dancing on the bar and the old cousins were ordering more drinks.

Out of nowhere a 6’5″ handsome stranger (we’ll call him S-D) threw both his arms around my sister and me… “Hey laaaaaaadies.” S-D was a total smoke show. He wanted to know where we were from, couldn’t believe we were sisters, and needed to know if he could buy us shots. Armed with over-confidence, I expected to look back up at him to get asked out.

We made hard eye contact and realized – didn’t we go on a weird date like a month ago?


It was around the afternoon lull when I decide between crawling under my desk for a nap versus going out for some fresh air and coffee. Thanks to my career-preservation interests, I usually decide to go out for a coffee.

At Caribou in the Loop, I got in line behind S-D and we acknowledged each other. Not the way normal people acknowledge each other, but the way super tall people do. It’s with a look that says: Oh, didn’t expect to see you up here, aren’t all these other regular people so small? Also, I’m going to eat that S.O.B. Jack as soon as he climbs up the beanstalk he grew in our personal space.

We’d gone back to obediently waiting in line when S-D turned on a heel like someone who’s never heard of Craigslist Missed Connections. He asked if we could have coffee and sit down together on the spot. Seemed legit, so I agreed. If you’re familiar with Stranger Danger training, this situation would be called the Successful Appearance Trap.

S-D was successful-looking with his business suit and his business haircut and his business cufflinks. With a slow line of questions, I quickly unraveled the knit sweater that was his facade. He got so tangled up in a bizarre series of half-truths, it felt like interviewing Johnny Depp method-acting The Mad Hatter.

He maybe worked in HR, or maybe worked in Treasury. He maybe lived in Chicago, or maybe was here on a consultancy project. He maybe had siblings, or maybe didn’t. Nothing made sense, except for my dad’s voice echoing inside my head, “fee fi fo fum, never talk to strangers.”

I chugged my 180 degree coffee and S-D offered me a piece gum, which I eyed suspiciously because I just knew it was filled with poison and razor blades. I left thinking, glad I won’t see that guy again.

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