Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Stalker

Through the final two years of my three years in middle school, not a lot of things remained constant in my life. I was going through the hell known as puberty, I'd switched schools in between the 6th and 7th grade, and was still "discovering" myself.

Aside #1: Consider that a polite euphemism for "started to masturbate regularly."

One of the things that did remain constant towards the end, however, was the undying affection of a girl named Erica. I was thrown off by her advances when they began via a note slipped into the grates of my locker one afternoon. Written in green ink on notebook paper, it went something like this:
Dear Ty,

I saw you walking. We have a class together. Your cute [sic].

Call me.
(phone number)

Reading the name at the bottom of the note, I was confused and also flattered. I'd never heard of this person before or noticed anyone named Erica in any of my classes.

Then it hit me. A year younger than me, with braces and thick glasses, Erica was the mentally disabled girl that was in my Computer Literacy class. I wasn't sure what to do, and I definitely didn't want to hurt her feelings, so I ignored it.

Aside #2: My motto: "Don't want to hurt someone's feelings? Ignore them!"

But she was persistent. Over the next few weeks, she would drop more notes into my locker, despite the fact that I never replied to a single one or gave her any indication that her feelings were reciporicated in the slightest.

It started to get worse, too. Every time she walked by me in the hall, she would giggle, look down, and rush out of my field of vision. I was beginning to get worried. My sensitivity towards the handicapped like Erica made it difficult for me to say no without devastating her.

Aside #3: At this point in time, my mother was a Special Education teacher, so I was well aware of how emotionally unstable she may be. I don't mean to generalize this group of people, but it was a distinct possiblility.

Soon after her barrage of notes had started, spring break began. I was given a week off from my moral torture, and to be frank, forgot about it completely.

But the following Monday, I opened my locker to find a bright red envelope with my name on it. Opening it, I found a card with yet another plea to call her, and to my horror, a wallet-sized copy of her school photo with her name on the back next to a bright-red heart. She just wouldn't quit.

I knew I had to take some sort of action against her, for her sake and for my own. So one day, after school had ended, I walked to the special education room where Erica spent most of her time, and asked to talk to the teacher that had been assigned to her.

I was then introduced to a polite, soft-spoken teacher named Mrs. Morris, who, after I'd explained the situation, told me that one of the side-effects of Erica's particular disability was that she became obsessed with people that she found attractive, as a coping mechanism.

Aside #4: I say "coping mechanism" because she was apparently incapable of admitting these attractions like a normal person, instead choosing to become obsessive.

Apparently she'd cycled through celebrities, teachers and other students before, and had lost interest after a few weeks. Mrs. Morris assured me that Erica would become "bored" with me if I continued to ignore her, and the notes would stop. Thanking her for her candor and help, I left.


Three weeks later, the notes still hadn't stopped, and were becoming more and more unsettling. I began seeing her several times a day, as opposed to the two or three times I'd normally run into her. I can't say that I was scared, but I was definitely uncomfortable.

So I went to talk to Mrs. Morris again after school, to tell her that Erica's obsession with me hadn't waned. Immediately after I'd entered her room, she rushed over to me.

"Oh my gosh, I am so sorry she hasn't stopped bothering you," she said. "I haven't been able to contact you because I forgot to write down your name, and Erica refuses to tell it to me because she knows exactly why I want it. I was this close," she held her fingers apart a small amount, "to following her throughout the day and hoping she'd run into you."

After explaining what had been happening over the last few weeks, she sighed and took a folder out from her desk.

"These are what Erica has been drawing during her special ed. period," she said, opening the folder.

Handing me a stack of paper, I leafed through them. Every single one was a childlike drawing of either me alone, or she and I together, holding hands and partaking in various activities she must have assumed couples did regularly.

Aside #5: The few I can remember are she and I walking through a park, playing with a dog and eating dinner together.

"She's on a level of obsession with you that I've never witnessed before," continued Mrs. Morris. "I'm not sure what to do about it."

"Well, what if I told her that I'm not interested?" I asked. "Would she freak out?"

"I'm not sure," she said. "We've never had her take it this far before. The last time she drew pictures of someone like this, it was of Orlando Bloom, and we had to convince her that there was no hope. She didn't take it well."

Aside #6: And that was the only time in my life that I've ever been inadvertently compared to Orlando Bloom. Get on my level.

"If I were to do it," I continued, "I would be very gentle in letting her down. I could even lie and tell her that my fake-girlfriend doesn't like that she's sending me these love notes."

"You know...that actually might work," she admitted. "Well, I guess we'll try it and see how it goes."

We then made plans to call me out of class at a certain point the next day. She told me that Erica would likely "spaz out" when I entered the room, but to not show her that it made me uncomfortable. After planning out what I should say to her, I left.

The next day, I was called to the special ed. room just as planned. Walking down the hall, I rehearsed what Mrs. Morris and I had decided that I would say. Soon, I was at the door to the room. Taking a deep breath, I opened it.

The instant it swung open, Erica turned towards the door and saw me standing there. Just as Mrs. Morris had predicted, she started freaking out, not quite knowing how to contain herself. I walked over and sat in the chair across from her, as Mrs. Morris sat in the one beside her.

"Hi Erica," I said.

"Hi..." she said, in between making excited noises with her mouth.

"Erica, Ty has something that he needs to tell you," chimed in Mrs. Morris, looking at me and nodding.

"That's right. I came here to tell you that I think it would be best if you stopped writing notes to me. My girlfriend doesn't like it, and is getting jealous," I lied.

"Girl...girlfriend?" she stammered. "You...don't have a girlfriend..."

We hadn't planned for this. Thinking on my toes, I said, "Actually, I do. She goes to a different school. That's why you've never seen me with her."

"Oh...well...okay..." she said, sadness in her voice.

"But Erica, if you want to be my friend, I would be more than happy to come down to this room once a week to talk to you. But you've got to promise me you'll stop writing notes to me."

She looked at me for five seconds before looking away again and smiling.

"Okay..." she agreed, still grinning.

After spending a few more minutes talking to her, I left. I worked out a deal with Mrs. Morris before I did though, agreeing to be called out of one of my elective classes on every Thursday until her obsession with me had faded.

Two visits later, she was finished with me, and had moved on to a new crush. I saw her in the halls from time-to-time after that, but she never acted the way she had when she was obsessed with me.

I ran into Mrs. Morris some time later, close to the end of the school year. She told me that she had been working on this facet of her behavior with Erica, and that what I had done helped this cause immensely. She said that she expected this habit to be knocked within the next few months, if all went as planned. And I hope, for Erica's sake, it worked.

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