Walking downtown to my shrink the other morning, pressing the heel of my palm into the section of my abdomen that is aching (left side, center). A young man wearing an undershirt and a dust mask over the lower half of his face is unloading a truck. As I pass, he says --
YOUNG MAN: Can I rub that for you?
ME (Stops, turns, looks incredulous): What?
YOUNG MAN (Palms out, inoffensive): I'm just offering you my support.
ME: Are you kidding me? Can you rub this for me?
YOUNG MAN (Approaches): Would you like me to?
ME: No! Are you serious? Do you actually think I want a complete stranger to rub my stomach?
YOUNG MAN (Big brown eyes gazing at me earnestly over mask): Why not?
ME: Because that's creepy!
YOUNG MAN (Drawing back): No!
ME: Yes it is, and you know it!
YOUNG MAN: No! I'm just trying to get to know you, offer you my support.
ME: But when you put it like that, I don't want to know you. I want to rip your head off!
YOUNG MAN (Aghast): No! Don't rip my head off, no!
ME: But that's what it makes some women want to do, when you say that! It makes them very angry, you know that, right?
YOUNG MAN: No! They love it, everyone loves it.
ME: No, not everyone loves it. Some people hate it, and they will hate you for doing it.
YOUNG MAN: No!
I extend my hand to him, and he shakes it.
ME: Anyway, I'm glad we had this conversation.
YOUNG MAN: Me too.
I begin to walk off, and the masked young man calls gently after me.
YOUNG MAN: When I'm gonna see you again?