Because sometimes creeping at home or work is just not enough, sometimes, just sometimes, you have to take it up a notch and introduce the whole awkward and weird thing in the House of the Lord as well.
Listen, I am a self-confessed, unashamed, often-commended-and-validated stalker. I’ve been stalking people for years, and I am an expert. Whether it was staking out friend’s boyfriend’s/wanna-be boyfriends/random attractive guys in college or finding my old boss’s high school boyfriend on the Internet 20 years after they broke up or figuring out that “I’m tired, Natalie, I’m going home to bed,” in college really meant, “I’ll just be over here at my friend’s apartment playing video games – NBD,” I can find/discover/sleuth out almost anything.
But today was the first time I have actually done something of this nature at church.
This morning, for once, we got to church on time. We get all settled in to a middle-of-the-sanctuary pew, instead of the back where we usually end up since we’re inevitably late. We sing, we praise. A couple of families come in late and sit in the pew behind us. Will ends up moving because he gets distracted from the kids rustling (nothing bad, he just wanted to be better focused on the service).
We don’t always go to church at this particular church because we’re kind of Bapti-Presby-dists, and we just go to whichever church strikes our fancy for the day. Last weekend, we spent three hours (yes, three….) at a church in Austin where we happened to be the only white people there (except our friend, whose fiance goes there). But, I’m digressing. Anyway, so we don’t always go to a Baptist church, but it’s where I feel most at home because that’s where I grew up. I love singing the hymns there, because they’re familiar, so I was really loving the music today and totally getting my Amy Grant on. And I noticed the couple behind me had great voices as well.
So, after the service, gathering up Bible and program and everything, I decide to tell the wife of the couple that I enjoyed hearing them sing. And this is where things became kind of weird.
Me: “Y’all both have great voices.”
Her: “Thank you.”
I look at her and then realize I (kind of, surreptitiously) know her.
Me: “Are you Ross’ sister?”
Her (with weird confused look): “Um. Yes.” (pause) “How did you know that?”
Me: “Because you look just like him.”
Wow. Very bunny-boilerish, if I do so say so myself. Here’s some backstory. Ross is one of my friends that I work with, and probably one of the nicest guys I know. When I mentioned in conversation where I went to church, he told me his sister and her family attended there as well. So, I’ve been (stalkerishly) keeping my eyes open for them for the past year or so. But there are so many other ways I could have phrased this conversation, some as simple as, “Hi… I’m Natalie. (wait for her to respond). Oh, you’re Colleen? I thought I recognized you. I work with your brother.”
But, no. That would have been way too easy and normal. And, at this point, I realize that, while I know who she is because I’ve seen her photo, she has no idea who I am. I am assuming that in addition to being creeped out, she’s probably not all that flattered (no offense intended to Ross, but who really wants to be told a complete stranger recognizes you because you – a pretty, wholesome, delicate looking woman – are practically identical to your tall, lanky younger brother?).
So, it gets better. She humors me sweetly, with the type of patience typically reserved for institutionalized mental people, and says, “But how do you know Ross?” to which I respond with word vomit something like the following: “Oh, um, I work with him. Well, not with him, but I work in PR, and he told me you go here since I go here too and he showed me your pictures so I would recognize you so we could meet each other but I’ve never run into you before and oh here’s my husband, and oh hey, Will, this is Ross’s sister…” And, with that, check just how adept I am. Since my husband moved to sit elsewhere during church, he was walking back TOTALLY unsuspecting and totally blindsided by the situation I created for myself.
So, they speak to each other, and I babble a couple more times incoherently about how long we’ve gone to church there or whatever and I think I might have actually used the phrase “Mission accomplished” in reference to meeting her. Because nothing says, “I’ve been staking out your pew with night vision goggles and a thermos of 7-Eleven slushes” like referring to making a new acquaintance as a mission. That you’ve now accomplished.
I’ve decided that situations like this are where being a kind of outgoing friendly person with an ongoing fast-paced inner monologue gets you in trouble. I’m guessing that after this morning, I’m not at the top of the recruiting list for Cool New Church Friend. In fact, at this point, I’m probably ranked about as highly as Justin Beiber for the Crimson Tide offensive line or Johnny Manziel for the Boy Scouts. At this point, I’m thinking it just might be time to find another church to humiliate myself in. After all, some of my other friends must have siblings, parents, maybe a second cousin or something that I can freak out with my overzealous friendliness?