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  • The Archer

Stranger Danger

My mother taught me from a young age that if any adult I didn't know ever spoke to me it was inevitable that I would be murdered shortly. We went through many, many, many scenarios of how this person might approach me, from asking me to help them find their dog (But Mom, I don't even like dogs!) to offering me candy (Will die for sour belts.) to introducing themselves as one of my parents' old college friends (you guys had friends?) When one of my mother's actual old college friends surprised her at our house one day, I thought the fear might kill me.

Now that I am mostly an adult and out of that 16-20 year old range where if you aren't careful you will be sold as a slave to a South American brothel, I feel a lot more free. When a friend and I visited Mexico we felt confident enough to walk outside our resort because, as over 25 year olds, no one wants us anymore. It's great! It has also helped repress my childhood worry about men in vans (#sexist) so that I can now have wonderful relationships with people I don't know. And I don't mean the strangers that I let pick me up and take me out for dinner since I've seen a piece of paper about their families. I mean the real strangers who seem to see me on a date and decide that now is the time to talk to me. It's my karma for always elbowing my way to a seat on the subway the rest of the time.

I was leaving a popular restaurant in Midtown Manhattan with my date and we were making our way back to his car, which, #Manhattan, was approximately 4 miles away. A young woman coming the other way down the sidewalk was animatedly talking to someone on her phone about how New York isn't dead. "There are so many gorgeous people in the city! It's a beautiful place! Like this girl"-at this she grabbed my shoulder in the midst of a global pandemic and said-"She's sexy!"

At that moment I realized my love language is compliments from strangers.

Many people have told me I am good looking or smart or funny but they all know me and are most definitely paid off by some "let's help The Archer's confidence" lobby to make me feel good. I don't know who is funding this lobby but I have my suspicions.

This girl, on the other hand, used me as evidence to tell her friend on the phone that New York is still full of hot people. I AM the hot people! I am the future of New York City! I am sexy!

You may be wondering how I reacted, considering I was on a date. My date turned to me with his mouth slightly open and I froze for a millisecond-and then grinned and yelled "THANK YOU!" Global pandemic be damned, this girl wanted to feel my shoulder muscles and tell me I'm killing it. I then turned to my date and said "Yes! That was awesome! She thinks I'm sexy! I AM sexy!"

Strangely enough my date didn't know what to do with this new information. It was probably hard for him, he didn't realize he was dating the future of beauty in NYC. He also seemed strangely bemused at my enthusiasm. We'll need to update the love languages book so he can understand that some people just need a little stranger validation to truly come to life.

The 2020 election was the best week wine, spirits, and klonipin ever had. I won't tell you which one of those I was hooked to during the week, but it was all three. They finally called the mess on Shabbos and on Sunday, I went out on a date. The boy drove me to a nice area for walking, which I was ok with because it was such a nice day, but I also made the internal note to always ask directly for food when setting up the date because even a date at dinnertime comes with no guarantees.

On our walk, NYC was buzzing with election news and relief/sadness from the opposing sides. Just kidding, it's NYC, everyone was relieved. One lady was out walking her dog and saw me and my date for the evening and knew this was her chance. She ran over and exclaimed: "Aren't you disappointed?"

Out of context this was very confusing. In what was I supposed to be disappointed? The looks of my date? He was fine. His personality was the problem! But how could this woman know that? Did she know something about him I didn't? But maybe she was talking to him-what could be disappointing about me? My acne was covered up, wasn't it? Had I sweated too much in the car and now my coverup was gone? Were my shoes mismatched? Was she insinuating something, like weren't we disappointed that our date wouldn't end inside one of our apartments? How rude!

And then

"About Trump, everyone's so happy, and I'm the only one disappointed I've been looking around all day for others like me!"


My date stammered, as we had already agreed not to speak about the election. I gave her a smile and used all my eloquence to say "Oh, right, that yeah, um not really but kind of?" She went off with her dog and her large cross necklace to bagel some other potentially disappointed Jews. (This was on the Upper West Side so I doubt she found any. She really needed to head out to Brooklyn.) Meanwhile, I was just relieved that it turned out that I was, in fact, wearing the same shoes.

In high school there was a terrible habit amongst my fellow students to overhear a snippet of a conversation and immediately jump in to give their opinions. This drove me crazy so I began to respond by saying "I don't remember inviting you to this conversation." High School Archer needed to chill out. I also recently found out I may have been directly responsible for some of my fellow students attending therapy and I just want to say: You're welcome mental health professionals. I do it all for you guys. But apparently talking in a loud voice continues to invite outsiders to my conversation. I was recently trying to end a date with a guy by telling him about my obsession with Christmas (learn more in EssCahPay! It's funny it's spelled just like the word escape.) A stranger on the sidewalk (we were walking) overheard me discussing the sad state of the 2020 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. The stranger, like Simone Biles flipping over the vault table, dived right in.

"Oh no! It's a shitty tree?" He said.

"Yes!" I responded happily, not having to deal with my date trying to look deeply into my eyes anymore. "It's missing some branches and it's all lopsided and needs tree plastic surgery!"

"Just what I needed this year. Damnit." And then my dearest fellow New Yorker walked off into the night with his new tree knowledge.

My date watched this all and responded with "so...should I order you an Uber?"

A stranger saves my night again!

So parents and teachers out there, tell your kids that strangers aren't dangerous, they are actually secret ego boosters who are part of the matrix to make sure you're having a good time and your ego is pumped up enough. If you're going to get in a van with a strange man though, make sure the candy he's offering you is the good stuff. You do not want to get carted away for a single DumDum.

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