Every six to eight months I pay a visit to the hair salon. Because this does not happen very often, I continue to patronize the same person I have been seeing for decades, even though I have moved a number of times and the salon is now about a forty-five minute drive from my house. Because it is just twice a year it is not difficult to be remain loyal, so I have stuck with this hairdresser. Since these hair appointments occur so infrequently and require driving a bit of a way to do it, I have created a small ritual surrounding them. Arriving slightly early, I drive through the Starbucks window and get a grande Java Chip Frappucino (either decaf or not, depending on the time of day). Then I enter the salon and sit on one of the couches, sipping my Frapp, reading, and waiting until she’s ready for me. That is what I was doing this afternoon when I encountered a Space Invader.
Space Invaders….you know the type. They invade your personal space and appear to have no concept (or don’t care) that they are doing it. Sometimes they are close talkers and get in your face. Or else they stand too close to you on the line at the bank, or practically sit on top of you when you are taking public transportation. I encountered one of them today.
There is one large leatherette couch and a matching loveseat in the waiting area of the salon. Here is the couch, which could seat three.
The matching loveseat (not pictured because I was sitting on it when I took this photo) accommodates two people – actually more like two children-sized people. Both couches were empty, so I chose the smaller loveseat to sit in while waiting, got down with my Frappucino and proceeded to leisurely peruse my email from my phone.
Suddenly I was rudely jostled by a woman who plopped down so hard on the couch cushion next to me that I was actually airborne for a second. She was a short, large-sized, loud middle-aged woman with gray roots, who appeared to be familiar with or related to one or some of the girls working there, as she began to chat with them and they all seemed pretty chummy. She did not engage with me at all.
There was not really enough room for both of us on this loveseat. She spilled over her own side of the cushion and overlapped onto my side, so we were sitting uncomfortably close, the way you might be crammed into a row of airline seats with a stranger. Except we weren’t on an plane. What was even more disconcerting was that as she sat down, she tucked one of her legs beneath her so that she was sitting on her foot, which was then pressing up against my left thigh and touching my shirt. I could not believe it!
That turquoise blue at the bottom of the photo is my left hip beneath my shirt. Above that is her butt spilling over her side of the seat cushions onto mine, and her foot pressing up against me. The only reason I could think of as to why she would sit like this was perhaps in order to help propel herself off the couch once she decided to stand up again.
OK, I am not fat-shaming here. I’m not the smallest person at the party either. However, we are not reluctantly sitting in assigned seats in the economy section. There were other roomier seating options available to her. She was not a close friend or family member, or anybody who I felt comfortable sharing body heat with on a couch. Why would she even want to wedge herself in next to me? It somehow reminded me of those guys who do “man-spreading” on the subway. It was incredibly rude – no sense of respecting someone’s physical space, no less putting her dirty shoe on my shirt. I could not for the life of me understand why she would even want to cram herself next to me instead of sitting on the nice big three person couch that was empty. Did she have no concept of her own presence?
My gut reaction was to just whip around, give her a major eye-roll and say “SERIOUSLY????” but I held back from that. My second thought was to tell her to please move her foot off my body, but instead I just made myself smaller and scooted farther away from her. She had to have noticed my shifting, but that didn’t seem to register. And no, she did not appear to have any sort of intellectual disability, although clearly she was missing something in the social graces department. My third thought was to pull a bit of a counter-aggressive tactic; to tuck my own foot underneath me just like her and put my own shoe right up against her leg so she could get a taste of it. My final thought was to just get up and go sit on the larger couch myself, which would have made a statement. All of these things fired through my brain in rapid succession, but I did not act on any of them.
The thing is, I just didn’t feel like any kind of confrontation. I was in my twice a year hair appointment groove and I had been feeling pretty OK – I just didn’t want to disrupt my own chi with a reaction. So instead, I ignored her. I continued to read my email. I slurped my Frappucino through the straw right down to the last drop, very, very loudly. I did take a photo of her invasive butt with my phone, and I hope she saw me do it. I see people post this kind of stuff on Facebook all the time….maybe I will too.
Suddenly they were ready for me, so I got up and didn’t look back at her. I don’t know what she was there for, but when I was finished, the Space Invader was gone.