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2003-10-09 - 5:56 p.m.

Is this a cultural difference?

Okay, a brief comment about the German habit of STARING. Why??? Am I so interesting and beautiful? Do I have a glob of dirt hanging off my face? Ok, so this morning I was wearing a pair of kickass knee-high leather boots, but the guy across from me had a huge wart on his cheek and nobody seemed to be checking THAT thing out.

I learned long ago that staring at people is rude and offensive. And yet it happens almost every morning that I get on the bus here. Okay, when someone new gets on, I look too. But after the first 30 seconds this usually gets rather boring - don't they have anything better to do???

But, the people here don't just stare. They are AGGRESSIVE STARERS. Starting at the age of about four, they develop these amazingly unpleasant and hostile scowls, aimed directly like burning lasers at your face. Some mornings I take them on and aggressively stare back at them until they look away. HAHA! But it makes me feel like a gorilla involved in some ridiculous dominance ritual. Are Germans actually just gorillas with black shoes, funny glasses and bad haircuts?? In that case, look out J*na, because you're starin' at THE SILVERBACK OF BUS 16, DAMMIT.

I could also use another tact. I could do what all Germans dread and just go over and start talking to them. "Hi! You've been staring at me for five minutes now, so I'm guessing that we must know each other. Let's be best friends, OK??"

Perhaps, I could bring a stack of autographed pictures of myself and hand them out as Bus 16 momentos. "Good morning. Here, now you can stare at me all day if you want to!"

Or I could just smile and nod my head like I normally do when I want to make a scowlly German in the grocery store smile.

You know, there may be something to be said for the anonymity of a big city like New York. If I remember correctly, the main goal there is to avoid eye contact. I'll let you know what the bus culture is like.

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