stranger danger – The Handmade Home

stranger danger – The Handmade Home

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Jamin was texting me. He wanted to know where I was. I guess I underestimated his level of threshold for rising panic.

Oh wait. That was just hunger. 

So I quickly texted him that I was following a perfect stranger into the parking lot to his kidnapper van, in the name of a good deal. 

Jamin: WHAT?! TACOS!!

But let me back up. Because tacos and kidnapper vans?

Yes. Tacos and kidnapper vans. 

I am what one would call the overcautious, paranoid parent.

I’m a little frayed on the edges, like an insufferable, overflowing teacup in an earthquake. Can I fill the teacup with something unexpected, like a pomegranate martini? It’s my metaphor.

I’m nervous, but I’m also full of surprises. 

Or maybe I’m just full of it.

I do it to myself. I’m a dead ringer for an enneagram 4, and my coping mechanism is to escape into a good book. Or painting. Or basically creating my own little world in any way in which design can be applied. Our friend, who happens to be a therapist, told me the other day, “I’m trying to make sense of a chaotic world.” 

No truer words have ever been spoken to my soul. 

I’m also obsessed with a good story in the form of murder mysteries and unsolved stories and decades-old crimes. People I barely know in various snippets of life ask if I’ve seen the latest Dateline. We bond over theories and updates on if they’ve caught the murderer yet. I was raised on Christopher Pike and Mary Higgins Clark. I’ve never felt so gratified as when I read Michelle McNamara’s book and couldn’t believe it when they caught the guy.

See me, watching the press conference with explosions of delight and involuntary updates to a less-than-thrilled-Jamin.

Yes, it takes a lot to be married to me. I assure you I have my charms, too.

At least that’s what I keep telling myself. 

Someone who doesn’t ‘get’ me, asked me why I would subject myself to such ‘negative reading material’. They may as well have asked me why I let my dogs inside my house. {For the record, she’s a cat person, and doesn’t even own one.} She doesn’t even go here! 

You get it, or you don’t. 

Yes, I am a hard core dork. But back to the paranoid parental department. Because I’m high strung, worst case scenario girl, I don’t know if someone is trying to kill me when they knock on the door of my house. So I shimmy like a ninja until I know who it is. I’m afraid of rogue hairnets. I’ve taken a self defense course, I’ve tried tirelessly, to teach my children about “stranger danger” and “tricky people”. I’ve given them scenarios on real life temptations such as, “Don’t follow the man with the candy” and “No, there aren’t puppies in there” and “adults don’t ask children for help.”

Then one spring our dogs ran away for a hot second, and two hours later, I was the potential kidnapper desperately driving around our neighborhood with my crying children, asking anyone if they’d seen them. The worst part was, I was the proud owner of a husky voice on week three of a horrible cold. So I was the woman pulling up with a slow crawl to kids playing in their yard to whisper in a strangled voice if they’d seen our dogs.

It was super creepy of me. Desperate times. 

So fast forward to a regular day of the week. Jamin and I were at a slightly overrated local spot {kind of like a mall} for small shops and a smattering of restaurants. We wanted to catch a quick lunch at one of our fave taco spots. I went for a quick potty break since the restroom was right around the corner, and I have the bladder of a two year old, all while he placed the order. An older gentleman who was passing my opposite direction stopped me.

He looked perfectly nice. 

Ted Bundy also looked perfectly nice, my inner voice told me. 

“Hey can I ask you a question?” he began. 

“Sure,” I responded a little surprised that he had a question for me. Make it quick, I thought. Because Tacos. 

“What do you think of this place? For a store?” 

He seemed like a legitimate business guy. Tall, slim and in his 60’s, it seemed like a genuine enough question. He had a no nonsense, grandpa-from-Boca-Raton vibe. So I gave him a genuine enough answer. “It’s sufficient.” But really, no one should ask me anything because I prefer to stay at home and make things pretty. But every time I’m here, no one is here. It’s dead…

“But also kind of overrated,” I added, looking around. 

At this point, I saw fire ignite in his eyes. “THAT’s what I told my real estate agent, but she’s not listening!” he exclaimed. Then he extended a hand, “I’m Dave.” {His name has been changed.}

I extended mine to return the shake, cautiously. And then he dove into a story about rugs and how he’s opening a shop. Suddenly his teeth were glittering and I think I blacked out briefly because all I could see were flying rugs, circling around his head. I believe that a lack of rugs is what’s wrong with under-designed spaces all in the name of saving a buck, and basically all of America. If a space needs anything, it’s always in the name of a good rug. Layered rugs. Indoor and outdoor rugs. Colorful rugs. Neutral rugs.

See Bubba Gump, but with rugs.

And before I could stop myself, I told him I was a designer, because blabbering idiot. The voice told me to be quiet, but sources and exciting subject matter… So I told that inner voice, the one that keeps you safe, to shut up.

Then he did the awkward thing and asked if I would step outside to see his rugs. 

Wait. Cue record screech. Begin murder music. WHAT?! 

Yep. A perfectly nice gentleman who gave me his full name and number was so excited to meet a designer in the very place he was thinking of opening a shop, wanted me to go into a fully crowded, fully lit, middle of the day parking lot, and view his kidnapper van full of rugs. 

“I’m sorry. My husband is waiting on me over there,” I made sure to tell him. Because Jamin was waiting on me beyond the restaurant wall, and I was pretty sure he would absolutely sound the alarm if I wasn’t back in five. 

Okay. Probably like thirty. Which was ample enough time to murder my face. And his tacos would get cold.

This is how the girl dies in the beginning of every CSI, my inner voice said. 

“It will only take a second. You’d be doing me a huge favor. I love working with designers, and I have all kinds of rugs you’d love to see…” He kept going, to the point where he dropped a few beloved brand names, and said they were hand woven by artisans in Kazakistan or somewhere else that sounded important, and I was so curious. I just couldn’t help myself. 

“You’re not going to kidnap me, are you?” I asked. I figured if he wanted to murder me or sell me into slavery, he may as well be honest about it. 

Pause.

Yes. I know the line has been drawn in the sand here. This is the part where you either get ragey at me for being an total moron, or you’re wanting to see what’s in the van, too.

Un-pause.

I found myself inching closer to the door, but also, I could hear Oprah saying, never let them take you to a second location. But also, This is not how I die because it would be way too idiotic. 

He laughed. “I promise, I’m not going to hurt you.” 

I took a step closer to the door. 

“You’re not going to taser me and throw me in your van and drive away?” And then, “You’re not a serial killer?” 

I guess at this point, I figured I could disarm him with humor and also more complete honesty. I don’t think victims ever ask if the person is a psychopath first.

Oh wait. We don’t know because they’re NEVER SEEN AGAIN. At least not until a boy scout camping trip with a thunderstorm in the beginning of ANOTHER episode of CSI.

Suddenly, I was the kid with the sailboat, willingly climbing into the sewer with the clown, except this time, it’s RUGS.

ALL FOR A GOOD DESIGN DEAL WITH A POTENTIAL GRANDPA SERIAL KILLER FROM BOCA RATON. 

I could see the headlines now: Franklin Woman Disappears, Husband Now Suspect. 

Poor Jamin. All he wanted was tacos. 

What does one do in the name of a good source, who is promising not to kill me and kindly chuckling at my paranoia but also might be the way I kick the bucket straight into the great afterlife?

Jamin was texting me. He wanted to know where I was. I guess I underestimated his level of threshold for rising panic.

Oh wait. That was just hunger. 

So I quickly texted him that I was following a perfect stranger into the parking lot to his kidnapper van in the name of a good deal. 

Jamin: WHAT?! TACOS!!

Side note: My mom just lost consciousness, if she’s reading this. I’m still alive, mom!

I realized my potential killer knew way too much about rugs and prices and brands to be a killer. They’re just not that dedicated to their research.

Unless he’s a serial killer who targets designers… the voice said. 

I felt a little more at ease when we arrived outside, because the parking lot contained other people, but as we inched up to his van, I realized there could be a crew of terrorist kidnappers inside, waiting to grab me. I had my cell phone out and my car keys in between my fingers and I was pretty sure I could take him, taser or no. I made it very clear that just in case things went down, everyone would see this. 

Sweep the leg, the voice said. 

When he opened up the van, I stood back cautiously. But then realized my instincts about the grandpa-from-boca-raton-salesman were actually dead on, despite my voice of paranoia. I realized, much to my delight, that it was packed full of lusciously beautiful rugs, and even if he wanted to shove my dead corpse into said kidnapper van, people would be staring at him and there was definitely no room. Because rugs. 

It’s a good thing he wasn’t a psychotic murderer, because the loss of a great source for rugs would be the real tragedy here. Am I right?!

So that’s my version of the puppy or candy or whatever you want to name it. I have a real weakness for rugs. And I became the stereotypical moron who followed a would-be kidnapper to the parking lot all in the name of nice quality and a good deal. 

Bless. 

And also, full credit to me, since I actually got what I wanted. 

So kids, do as I say, not as I do. 

And if you’re a psychotic narcissist who wishes me dead, I just gave you notes on how to do it. You’re welcome.

Stranger danger. 


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