Today at the gym, a guy walked up to the station where I was working out and said "Can I tell you something without you misunderstanding?"
He was probably late 20's; I guessed from his accent and face that he was Middle-Eastern. He was a little short, but had nice features.
I instantly and instinctively put up an icy cold barrier. Distrust and skepticism must have been written all over my face. "Uh, maybe?" Watch it, dude. I have a glare of death and killer-sharp instincts and I'm not afraid to use them.
"Ok, well. I just wanted to tell you you are so beautiful."
"Thank you..." What is it that you want?!
"And I suppose you have a boyfriend, and he is so lucky."
Ice melted slightly. No way I'm telling you I don't have a boyfriend. "Thank you."
And he walked away. What? He just wanted to tell me I'm beautiful? I waited until he was a safe distance away and allowed myself a tiny smile.
Immediately, however, my defense-mechanism sprang into action. There were a dozen reasons why he could have done what he did. Some of the most absurd were:
It was a dare.
He was distracting me so his friends could steal my stuff.
He's a stalker.
He was distracting me so his friends could steal my roommate's stuff.
His ugly friend asked him to talk to me for him.
It was definitely a dare.
He has a contorted mission in life to tell ugly/overweight girls they are beautiful.
I kept waiting for my pessimism to be proven absolutely firm and then I would go home hurt and hardened. Mostly, I looked around at all the girls that were prettier and skinnier than I was. Why me?? Surely this guy's motive was skewed. Surely it was a loaded interaction.
Yet, I'm safely home. My roommate and I both still have our stuff. No ugly guys smiled at me on my way out. And I feel more beautiful. I am so thankful to that stranger for the much-needed reminder.