Stalking. Eyeballing. Giving a fast once over.
We’ve all been caught doing the above at least once in our lives. If you haven’t been caught out yet- well- hats off to your stalking skills. You’re a pro.
I am the least professional when it comes to the art of gawking. I almost always get caught, simply because I get all flustered, my eyes get a nervous tick, and I give myself away.
The following incident is one which started off as simple fun but ended up as a Nightmare for me.
This was about 8 or 9 years ago. Like a squirrel who gathered acorns for a rainy day, me and my partner saved up enough to go on a most anticipated European trip. One of the best holidays of my life. Our tour ended in Rome- land filled with architectural wonders, mouth watering food and beautiful people. On day 13 in Rome, I packed up my bags and reached the airport with a heavy heart full of memories to last a lifetime, and enough experiences to write at least three romantic novels. Caught up between weaving a story of an Italian winemaker in my head, and going through the motions of security checks, I looked around and – BAM- I saw him!
An Italian airport official wearing a suite came out of nowhere and filled my focus while I was waiting at the emigration for a clearance. Needless to say, my jaw dropped. He had the kind of classic looks- tall, dark, with a high-bridged nose and perfectly cut jaws (I know–you’re cringing- bear with me.) He reminded me of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. He looked up, our gazes clashed and I am pretty sure he smirked at my expression. Busted! When it was my turn and he asked me for my passport, my hands shook. When he asked me about my holiday in Italy, I croaked. Words were stuck, along with my tongue at the roof of my mouth.
He narrowed his gaze at me and I was positive my heart was a puddle on the floor. It was only when he asked me to repeat my name in a rather forceful voice it clicked to me that while I was off in la-la land, here in the mortal world, things were progressing downhill like a landslide.
It turned out, thanks to the innumerable T’s and O’s in my legal name, my name printed on my Visa was wrong and as such, he couldn’t let me travel back to Australia without further clarification. Very patiently, he summoned two of his other colleagues, who moved a red-faced me into a small room for further questioning. Minutes ticked on. Half an hour turned to one. I wasn’t feeling hot flashes now. I was hyperventilating. Screw my story line and romantic musings. I just wanted to get the hell out of there.
After a few phone calls and emails that bounced back and forth between two continents, they gave me an all clear and I was back in the queue to face him. Caesar smiled, shrugged, and continued with the proceedings as normal. I thought I saw a flash of humour in his eyes. Which irritated me to the point of acute embarrassment. He asked me all the right questions. I answered them as patiently as I could. In the end he asked me if I would return to their beautiful country. I wanted to say, “Not a snowflake’s chance in the hell, buddy!”. But the memory of their interrogation room forced me to nod politely.
And so I moved on.
Note to self : Newton’s third law applies to gawking.