Then, Zach started talking to me. A lot. He asked many questions about my life at UNH. He seemed to accumulate a wealth of knowledge about me that I had never volunteered. It was easy to see how this was happening. My brother and his friends worked with us and information passed between them.
Still, his seeming fascination with me flattered me more than it should have: “I probably know a lot more about you than you think I do,” he told me one night. Cue The Twilight Zone music.
While he had a way of making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, I can’t lie, I was equal parts spooked and intrigued. I pretended to be shocked and annoyed, but he saw through it.
I must have discussed it with Paul a little (waaaaaay) too much at home, because my mother, shopping in the store one night, saw Zach and, socially awkward as she was, told him I talked about him “all the time.” Great, I thought. No wonder he was so quiet with that shit-eating grin on his face the whole rest of the night.
He never let me forget it: “Hey Leah, next time you talk about me to your mom tell her I said hello.” I’d pick up the telephone at the service desk. “Hi Janet,” he’d say (because of course he knew her name…and my father’s). Next time my mom came into the store she bought a rug without a price tag and he only charged her $7 for it. “Make sure she knows I did that,” he told my brother.
For some reason he was really nice to me the last time we worked together; we followed each other around the store all night talking (no teasing) and he found me a deeply marked down $3 oriental rug for my newly acquired single dorm room. A few weeks after that I had a boyfriend up at school and the next time I was home and went into the store I heard Zach had recently quit.
They were all younger than me. As a college girl I’m not sure why that didn’t bother me, except that I was relatively inexperienced, and had nothing going on at UNH, contrary to popular belief.
I think they all had the idea that I was this wild party girl because of the way I dressed, but I really just dressed that way because I could. I had a nice figure and I was proud of it.
And the attention didn’t hurt, either. After having been more or less ignored in high school, it became addictive. I still wasn’t good at meeting new people. I was hopeless with guys. I met my husband through a close friend, or I’d probably still be single!
Those boys were a learning experience for me. What I was supposed to have learned still isn’t quite clear to me (maybe don’t talk so much about your co-workers in ear shot of someone who might embarrass the crap out of you), but I imagine someday when I’m older and wiser, I’ll figure it out.