Wednesday, November 03, 2010

My New Friend the Stalker

Dear Grace,
A relatively new acquaintance has been circling around me in an apparent attempt to become my BFF. We have some natural social overlap--she recently became a member of the studio where I do Yoga, we both serve on a neighborhood committee, and our kids are on the same soccer team. I'm all for carpooling, maybe even grabbing an occasional coffee after yoga, but she has taken these minor social interactions to mean that we are practically joined at the hip. She now insists on checking in with me before each Yoga class, makes unnecessary offers to take my kids to and from soccer, and if she can't get me via cell phone she calls my house, then emails and texts. She is now making summer plans and has asked about our swim club. I don't want to be mean, but I'm starting to run away from her as it is. I don't want to have to dodge her all summer--or fret about it for the next 6 months. Help!


Dear Stalked,
Well, it's nice to be in demand, but smothering is another thing entirely. Your stalker sounds like she is a bit insecure and needy. Perhaps even lonely. She has misjudged your good manners and accidental togetherness as an offer to be her bosom pal and that is simply off base.

Graces are never unkind--and really, your new acolyte hasn't done anything worse than crowd you. You want to choose a strategy that is maximally effective and minimally hurtful. In other words, evade her. If possible, switch up your yoga schedule a bit so she isn't always there with you, or arrive in class just before it starts and bolt when it ends. Wave, but don't engage. Gesture at your watch indicating that you have to dash. Rearrange the soccer logistics so you don't meet there every time--have your spouse, sitter, or another parent take your budding Beckham a few times to break up the pattern. With luck, Cloying Chloe will latch onto someone else who turns up at Yoga and soccer a few times in a row and take you off the hot seat.

As far as the swim club situation, clam up. Change the subject, remember an urgent errand, or fake a seizure. If that doesn't work and you are pressed, be vague. "We're not sure what our plans are yet." If pressed harder, say "Yes, we have been members of the Porpoise Club for awhile. One thing we love about it is that it allows us to kind of 'check out'. We really tend to separate from the usual crowd during the summer and don't hang much with the people we see all year."

Your question made me think of the U2 song "I Will Follow." I was shocked to see that it dates all the way back to 1981. You won't believe how Bono looked (or danced!) back then.

No comments: