Friday, October 28, 2005

Why Writers Are Dicks

So I'm on the train home yesterday, and there's this guy. He's bald. And not one of those guys who looks good bald. In fact, he might have been a cancer patient, which makes this even worse. Because I could not stop staring at his head.

This was not open-mouthed gaping. It was not horrified fascination (well, not entirely). This was research. This was an interestingly-shaped head, and I had to remember it. Why? Because someday I might need to describe an interestingly-shaped head in words, and I had to think of those words and commit them to memory now.

So I stared. I stared like his head was Alysson Hannigan's perfect breasts. I studied the shape of it, noting how the angle of ascent, the angle of descent, and a plane through the center of his head made a textbook scalene triangle. How there was no trace of stubble whatsoever. How I imagined I could almost see the crennelations of his brain under the scalp. How he looked like a young Dr. Sivana. Imagining where the hairline would be if he had hair. The bumps, the lumps, the curves, the slopes, converting it all to words and committing those words to memory, where they would wait patiently until I needed them. Hell, I composed half of this blog entry.

I didn't stop staring until I noticed that he'd noticed me staring. And even then, I snuck quick glances all the way home. To his credit, the guy didn't say anything, but he probably wanted me dead by the time I got off the train.

My mother would have been mortified. This flew in the face of everything she ever taught me about tact and public comportment. It was probably the rudest, most insensitive thing I've done all year, and that's saying something. But I don't care. I had to do it. That's how my brain works. Every person, every object, every little human tragedy is subject material, to be analyzed and stored. You are all fodder for my imagination. Even the people I love most in the world, even the eventual lifemate I pray each night I will find before my heart gives out from the search, are my lab projects, my study guides, my life models. You have to be. Because I have to be a writer. It's who I am.

So if you see me on the street, or the subway, or in a crowded store, or across the table, or lying next to you in the early hours of the morning, and I'm staring at you, into you, with my head cocked slightly to the side, and the look in my eyes sends a cold shiver up your spine, please, forgive me. I don't mean to scare you, or make you uncomfortable. I just can't help myself.


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Grant said...

This happens to me a lot where someone is staring at my bald area (little more then a spot). It definately makes me uncomfortable.

I should really start wearing hats more often.

Melissa said...

I dunno, I'd probably actually find it flattering. I mean, the idea that someone would find some aspect of me interesting enough to use for research is actually kinda cool.

But then, I also spent an entire day trying to reproduce a particular kitten's meow with a violin.