I've always been a shy girl. I used to sit in the back of class and look down at my desk in an attempt to avoid eye contact with anyone who happened to enter the classroom. Walking down the street, I would count the lines on the sidewalk or stare at the buildings overhead so that I wouldn't accidentally make eye contact with people I was passing. Parties are the worst. I hate making small talk with strangers - I instantly feel self conscious and want nothing more than to curl up with a book alone. Like most shy people, I have trained myself to function in this society. I force myself to return smiles when I see them, and I've memorized a list of questions that I use when mingling with strangers or trying to get to know new co-workers. I've gotten very good at pretending - my friends look at me like I'm nuts when I admit to them that I'm shy, and my boss used to shove me in leadership positions "because I was so good with people." Despite my advancements, I still posses the skills necessary to make myself all but invisible when walking down a crowded street or in a room full of strangers.
I took Alice on a walk today through downtown to visit SDN for lunch. She was in her favorite position - in the MOBY facing outward. If you've never seen a baby in this position, it really is quite a site. Alice loves to watch the world safely strapped to my chest, and everyone we meet goes nuts over how adorable she is.
We were walking through downtown, and within my carefully constructed bubble of anonymity, I began to notice that strangers were not ignoring me as they usually did when I avoided eye contact and tried to be invisible. They would casually glance at me, but before their eyes had a chance to slide away, their pupils would widen and they would purposefully look from Alice to me. They would force their eyes into my bubble, making sustained eye contact as giant grins erupted all over their faces. Hardened city dwellers melted at the sight of little Alice. "What an adorable baby," old women exclaimed. "Look at that hair," about a dozen people commented. One man even went so far as to have an entire conversation with Alice as I politely nodded and smiled. "Hee, hee, hee. Are you enjoying your ride, buddy? I wish someone would carry me around like that. You got some hair on your head. I wish I had hair like that. You goin' off to work? You work around here? Where do you work? Ha Ha Ha! That's one cute baby you got!" I thanked him and continued on.
I never know what to say when people tell me how cute Alice is. I guess I can take some credit for it as I did pass along some mighty cute jeans, but "thank you" doesn't quite seam like the best response. If I had half the guts I would like to have and twice the honesty, I would proabably just say, "I know," but that would really throw people, and I try to avoide making people uncomfortable if I can. Now that I think about it, though, I'd bet people would really get a kick out of it if I responded with "I know" instead of "thank you". Sure, I might offend a few old women, but most people would probably laugh, and isn't that what Alice is all about: making strangers happy.