Whirlygig: 75: Out on the Town

The Izzy's counter smothers one's personal space

Apr 30, 2003 at 2:06 pm

Space Invaders
There's an unspoken rule about comfort zones when it comes to personal space, wouldn't you agree? I can't tell you exactly what it is. I just know when someone has overstepped the boundary.

Case in point: I was downtown at lunchtime and thought that nothing would satisfy my hunger better than a corned beef sandwich at Izzy's. It happened that I wasn't the only one who felt that way. Luckily I was hitting it on the lunch wind-down about 1:15 p.m. and, while the tables were full, the counter was wide open.

I like the counter whether I'm at Frisch's Big Boy or Skyline as it's closer to the action. Plus I'm under the sometimes misguided perception that it'll be faster service. It's kind of a throwback to growing up in a small town where we had one pharmacy that also served as a soda fountain and was a great place to go after school for a milkshake.

Back to my ringside seat at Izzy's. The potato pancakes had me salivating and the sauerkraut was being piled on my corned beef sandwich when a big guy plopped down right next to me. My head was buried in the editorial page of the newspaper, so I didn't see him coming and literally jumped when his arm grazed me on landing.

Why on God's green earth did he have to sit on the round 10-inch stool next to little ol' me when there were seven other choices at the counter? Could I call foul play? Where the heck is Izzy to protect me from this invasion of the unknown?

I managed to maintain my composure and eat my sandwich. All the while I was fearful he'd reach over and help himself to my potato pancake. It isn't that I don't like to share, but my stoolmate had invaded my comfort zone and violated the unspoken space issue.

Obviously I'm no worse for the experience, but it was annoying when that guy had options. No, he didn't have designs on getting to know me as he was on his cell phone the entire time discussing where the cement was going to be poured. At one point I almost tapped him on the shoulder and said it had already been deposited in his brain, but I refrained.

The other space incident worth mentioning this week occurred in my very own yard. One would like to imagine that one has privacy in a yard the size of mine, which is nearly a full acre. In fact, I've spent a small fortune planting trees and fancy grasses to ensure that if I so desire I can seduce almost anyone on my patio in the pale firelight of my patio fireplace.

This event happened in broad daylight as I was mowing this weekend in my two-piece bathing suit. It isn't really a bikini, but it does allow for the push mowing experience to double as exercise and sunbathing. Why not kill two birds with one stone has been my philosophy, and besides it's my yard. I'll do whatever I want as long as it's not grounds for calling the authorities and scaring the local wildlife.

No sooner had I made a few passes on the grass than did my new neighbor appeared in my driveway. He moved in across the street with wife and multiple cars, much to the chagrin of myself and my long-standing neighbors who pride themselves on a beautiful environment free of cars on blocks and recreational vehicles.

He'd appeared magically last week when I was mowing. Then I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, but I was still a girl on a mission to finish the chore before sundown. Well, patience is running thin when the yard is kicking my butt anyway, and today in my midriff baring get-up I was feeling invaded once again.

I was tempted to point-blank ask him when he was moving the car under the tarp. He had been nice when the dog warden had come in my absence to kidnap my puppy that had escaped the fence. I turned off the mower and pulled off my headphones.

My best guess was the guy was lost, since he recently retired after 30 years in a factory. When he offered to mow my yard for me, I assured him it wasn't necessary. I wanted to take his temperature on the spot. He must have been delirious for offering when he had his own giant green space to mow, but I thanked him politely and mentioned my "friend" Ed.

"Who is Ed?" my neighbor asked.

"My boyfriend, but I don't like that term," I answered, thinking of conveniently trotting out a boyfriend name in order to get my neighbor the hell off my driveway. It didn't faze him, so I went on to say that "we" take care of our own places independently and if anyone were mowing my grass it would be him. (Hint: He takes care of me, period.)

Finally our social chat ended, and I went back to the task at hand — then he appeared again out of the woodwork. He was all spiffed up when he walked over to me still mowing wearing headphones. This time he gestured me to not stop the engine but leaned in and yells, "I can't let you mow this as you're too cute and too fun to work this hard."

Buddy, get a hold of yourself or I'll find a big, brawny boyfriend to teach you all about girl power and maybe he'll mow more than my grass.

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