Last summer, I watched what seemed to be a romance blooming between my neighbour, a man in his early 60s, and a woman, perhaps slightly younger but still very attractive. Every day, he would stand in his front yard drinking coffee, and when she walked past he would stop her and they would chat. She walked south in the morning, and I walked north. Sometimes, when I was a little bit late, I would pass her closer to my house, carrying a flower (I assume from his garden) and wearing a Mona Lisa smile.
I walked past the same fellow's yard every morning, but I don't recall any interaction between us. If there was, it wasn't memorable.
After a while, I stopped seeing the beautiful, well-dressed older woman. I guess she must have moved, or changed her routine so that she no longer has to walk down my street.
The man with the coffee started paying attention to me.
At first we just nodded and smiled at each other as I speed-walked to the bus stop. I am always in a hurry in the morning, having stayed home until the last possible moment because, work is work. At some point we added saying "Good morning, nice day," and so forth. Perfectly fine, normal conversation.
Then a day came when I found him dressed in a shirt and tie, carrying a briefcase. He popped out of his front gate and fell in step with me. "Are you going to the bus? I will walk with you." Well, alright, fine, it's a free country. Go ahead. I chatted politely with him; found out his name and national origin (he came to Canada from Romania 20 years ago, and still has an accent).
It got a little weirder when he walked me right to the door of my bus and patted my shoulder before wishing me a good day. I felt slightly creeped out.
The day after that, he was waiting for me again. He conveniently had a client he had to see right near where I work. Jump in his car! He'll give me a ride! Why not?
I suddenly pictured last year's lady, chopped up and frozen in a chest freezer in his basement. Maybe she didn't move away after all...
Anyway, I said "No thank you" and made polite excuses which were actually 100% true: I prefer to walk; I enjoy the exercise and the time out of doors. Ken can confirm that I have refused his offers of a ride to work many times. I'd always rather walk if I can.
I don't want to be one of those women who answers every conversation opener from a man with "I'm married," but in this case my instincts said I should back off. Happily, for the rest of the week I haven't seen him in his yard. I can enjoy my morning walk in peace, with no social awkwardness. Hurray! I hope it stays that way.
P.S. The charity people picked up my donation last week! It's all good.