This is primarily because I'm nearly positive that it is the only place that I get hit on. At least openly enough that I recognize it. My gay-dar is infinitely more trained than my he's-just-that-into-you-dar.
Let me explain.
I heard a story once on a talk show by Dev Patel, the star of Slumdog Millionaire. He told the host of the show about a day when he was riding the Tube and reading one of the papers that they hand out to you as you enter the station. These papers, I'm convinced, are there for the sole purpose of encouraging people to look at something other than other people. And it works. Riding the Tube is generally a quiet, private sort of experience. People ride alone together, so to speak. This in mind, it is both surprising and not that on Mr. Patel's particular journey when he discovered himself as the centerfold of the newspaper everyone was reading, that the only reaction from the person opposite him was a small double take and a turn of the page. No conversation. No "is this you?" No autograph request. Just a shrug of the shoulders and move on.
|This is what it should look like.|
This was the experience I was prepared for the first time I went to London. I dutifully grabbed the paper, read about the latest "news" and gossip and worked out a crossword answer or two between stops. I must have done it pretty authentically because I was asked for directions. Twice. (And was able to give them. Both times. After a week in London? Yes. I am amazing.)
My goal whenever I travel is to fit in with the crowd. I don't like to look like I don't belong, especially abroad where the reputation of Americans is nearly always polarized. But sometimes weird things happen in crowded public spaces. Such an experience descended upon me once when I was on my way to Mary Poppins with my friend Kate. Crammed into a car with standing room only, Kate and I stood gripping a pole and trying not to hit the people next to us on our way to the West End.
Now, before you understand the full weight of this story, you have to know that I have never been one to draw attention to myself with amazing fashion choices. Bad fashion choices, well, that was nearly all of elementary, junior high and high school. I'm not trendy. I've got a big forehead that bangs won't cover because a double cowlick makes such a prospect practically impossible. I have smallish eyes and was in various forms of retainers and braces for about eight years while my orthodontist and dentists worked to widen my over-small mouth (Yes, I see the irony) and straighten my teeth. I went through a period of time where I was attempting bangs that didn't work. Probably because there really were only two bangs. Two little strands of hair that were meant to mask my five-head. Yes. I was that girl.
So I've never had many delusions of grandeur when it comes to looks. I don't think I'm ugly. I don't think I'm model material either. Just normal. And I'm ok with that. I'm especially ok with that in foreign places because it means that I get to blend in and hopefully not label myself as rude American loaded with money tourist (since they're, I hope, only 1:3 on that.)
Sometimes, though, fate has other plans.
In the middle of our journey to Poppins we were joined by a man and his (daughter? wife? girlfriend?) significant female other of some variety. Said man broke every rule of Tube etiquette and he broke them with me. He asked me where I was from. "America." He asked me if I'd ever been to Boston. "No." (Please stop talking!) He asked me if I knew where a certain street was in Boston. "No." (Duh. I haven't been there.)
|This is what it was really like. Creeper.|
Not exactly the subtle ride I'd hoped for.
|Never been so happy to see the exit.|
This may have been the most obvious and public display of affection I've experienced, but it wasn't the last. The other two were also in London. One in Kensington Gardens after church (I looked like the daughter of a politician that day - pearls and headband and all) and the other in an Indian Restaurant with a flirtatious waiter who brought me food I hadn't ordered and told me I should move to London.
I'm assuming that this is a sign that if I can get the creepers to come out of the woodwork more openly then maybe I'd have better luck with the Darcy's of the British world. Right? RIGHT?!!
(Yeah. I know.)