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I'm an author and arts administrator living in New England with my family and pugs. I'm also a caffeine addict and voracious reader. My latest middle grade fantasy novel, COMET RISING, is available now from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky!

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Copley Scare

The following story actually took place this summer, but since it’s Halloween, it seemed appropriate to post it now.A couple months ago, in an effort to expand my lunch-hour horizons, I decided it would be nice to eat lunch in Copley Square on the steps of the Boston Public Library since it was warm and sunny. However, my first attempt at this would also be my last.

It seemed to be a normal day with plenty of nice normal people walking around. I found a pleasantly sunny spot on the library steps, took out my book and the left over pizza that was my lunch, and settled in.

For all of 2 minutes anyway.

I was seated by the corner of the Library when, out of nowhere, a man comes around the corner and stops, looks around, and sees me.

“I just have to tell you, you are beautiful!”

“Uh…thank you…” I said politely. Unfortunately, he took my politeness as an invitation to sit down and chat. Normally, a nice man complimenting me and chatting me up wouldn’t be unfortunate, but this man wasn’t exactly nice and was anything but dashing! He was a middle-aged black man with blood shot eyes and ill-fitting clothing. He smelled vaguely of cabbage. He sat down next to me and would Not. Stop. Talking. He launched into what appeared to be a half internal monologue, half attempt at conversation about how he always compliments the ladies, “you gotta compliment the ladies and I always tell my children to compliment the ladies.” Then he seemed to get confused and began repeating “You always gotta compliment the children.”

While this was going on, I was trying to eat my lunch and focus on my book. But not very successfully.

“You, you are beautiful, you are like Wonderwoman! That’s what you are, wonderwoman! Weeeeehoooo!”

(Ok, I admit, I had to laugh at that.)

“You must workout. Do you go to the gym? I bet you do! I go to the gym. Underneath these clothes, I look just like Arnold Schwarzenegger! Have you seen Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body?”

At this point, the strange man began rolling around on the library steps howling and tugging at his shirt. “I’m Arnold Schwarzenegger, Weeeehooo!”

(For the record, I have to say, I’m extremely disappointed in every single person, who walked by me and refused to look me in the eye at that moment! I was praying someone I knew would come by and rescue me, but no, no one would. Bastards, all of them!)

Suddenly, he jumps up, sits back down, and asks me “Who’s your favorite body builder?”

“Uh…hmm….I don’t really have one. I don’t really like bodybuilding”

(Despite his crazy antics, I was still foolishly trying to be polite and hoping he’d leave because I couldn’t think of anyway to extricate myself from the situation without being rude.)

“Well, what do you like?”

He asked me this as I was mid-bite and I almost choked as he suddenly scooted right up next to me and said “Let me try one of them things!” and reached for my lunch!

When a strange man who may be drunk, high, or just plain old crazy tries to steal my lunch, well, that is definitely my cue to leave! I closed up my lunch box, grabbed my bag, and said “Thank you for the compliment, but I have to go now.”

As I left, he was rolling around on the steps again, shouting, “Are you afraid of me? Afraid of me?”

And you’d think it would end there, right?

Of course not.

One week later, after dinner with friends at the Pru, we were all walking back to the Copley T station when we had another unfortunate encounter. Oddly enough, I was wearing exactly the same outfit as the last time and I literally had just told my friends the above story about 10 minutes before in the restaurant.

We were walking along and chatting, minding our own business, when we realized that someone was shouting something unintelligible behind us and following us down the street. This time, it was not a sunny day; it was a dark night and we were being tailed by a howling stranger down the street. My friends and I exchanged several meaningful looks and picked up the pace. One friend looked back and then turned to me and whispered “Is that the same guy you were telling us about, MarcyKate?” Of course, I didn’t think that could be possible—seriously, what are the odds of that happening? There’s more than enough crazy people in Boston! But his voice kept getting louder and closer and now we could make out that he was yelling something about “ladies” and “asses” that was definitely directed at our party.

We were moving quickly now, but he was faster. He caught up to us and came right up beside me, cackling “Give me a smile! Come on, give me a smile!”

Fortunately, my friend’s boyfriend jumped in and asked the man to leave us alone. I can’t recall exactly what his response was (something along the lines of “I was just talking to the beautiful ladies” I believe), but the sole guy in our group said to him “I don’t think any of the beautiful ladies in Boston want you howling at them while walking down the street in the middle of the night.”

But that didn’t quite shut him up. “Ooooooh, you’re Superman now, alright! Superman! Weeehoo!” And then he backed away into the Copley T station.

Which I was just about to go into myself.

By this time, I was more than a little creeped out and getting on the train at that particular stop was now the last thing in the world I wanted to do. To make a long story short (well, not really), I walked all the way down to the next T station alone and almost missed my train home.

Needless to say, my lunch excursions now end at the Pru and I don’t venture into Copley Square alone anymore.