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Oh, The Glare



There is no choice, we make the point

To counteract a threatening hand…--Bauhaus, “Burning From the Inside”

When you’re the lone goth in rural Hicktown, West Virginia, you tend to get some stares. Sometimes those stares are full-on mean-hearted glares. And a full-on mean-hearted glare is what the state trooper whose eyeing me as I stand the candy aisle in this hicktown’s lone grocery store is giving me.

I can’t imagine why he’s possibly glaring. I’m not a bad person. I don’t steal. I don’t murder. I’m a daughter, a wife, a professor. I embroider spiders and bats for my closest friends. I read obscure books. I can speak four languages.

But he’s glaring as I reach for a pack of Polar Ice and then for a bag of dark chocolate kisses. I like dark chocolate, too. Mostly because of the “dark” part. And the antioxidants. Maybe he’s glaring because I’m wearing knee-high combat boots and my Lily Munster-inspired Renfield trench coat my husband (who’s a norm, by the way) bought me for Christmas.

Please, for the love of Bauhaus, man, stop glaring. It’s not like I’m shoving this candy down my black-and-purple striped tights. There are germs in that region that I seriously don’t want coating my dark chocolate kisses.

While living in Hicktown, West Virginia I have acquired ways of dealing with Judgmental Ones. My favorite strategy is The Smile. Basically, when a Judgmental One glares, stares, scoffs, scowls, or pokes fun at me, I smile. Then, they look at me with that deer-in-the-headlights gaze that screams Oh my God! Goths DO smile! But I’m not sure that The Smile is the most effective tool for this state trooper.

My other favorite way of dealing with a Judgmental One is The Compliment. The Compliment is particularly useful for elderly ladies who gasp in horror at my ear piercings (four in each ear! THE DEBAUCHERY!!), my purple-black lipstick, my gloriously smooth and pale complexion. Whenever a Judgmental One reacts in a manner that requires The Compliment, I simply say something like “Wow. Those are beautiful black flowers on your dress” or “That purple ring you’re wearing is gorgeous.” Typically, after receiving The Compliment, a Judgmental One has is rendered verbally inept, and usually what the Judgmental One offers is a shocked “Thank you.”

Anyway, the state trooper stands closer to me, and my arms are laden with bags of dark chocolate kisses, dark chocolate-covered almonds, and gum. His stance screams I’m-tougher-than-a-grizzly, and I can’t help but think "Today I’m going to die." Dear husband, choose a nice coffin.

I’ve always wanted a nice coffin.

“Hey,” says the state trooper.

“Hey.”

“Look,” he says. “I’m sorry for staring, and I don’t mean to be forward, but so few people can pull of that look. I haven’t seen it since the Eighties.”

“Uh, thanks,” I manage, nearly dropping all the candy I clutch to my chest.

“You’re welcome.”

And I stare in disbelief as he grabs a bag of mints from the shelf and leaves me alone with my armful of sweets.

This story was written by Nicole Yurcaba. She is a poet, professor, and essayist. She teaches at Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, VA.
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