I hadn't been in the space more than three hours when a pedestrian walked by, met my eye, and smiled. Friendly fellow, I thought as I raised my hand to wave.
He whacked the window with his rolled up newspaper, laughed, and kept walking.
I stared after him, dumbfounded. What was that about?
I was still mulling it a few hours later when it happened again. The second time was less jarring, as the passerby settled for lightly drumming his fingers on the glass. Still, what the hell?
It's still happening more than three months later. Sometimes, it's a friendly little tap-tap. Other times, the glass smacking is augmented by a thumbs-up, or on one particularly special occasion, a tongue pressed against the filthy glass. I've considered going to the pet store and borrowing one of the signs off the gerbil cages that says please don't tap on cage.
I still haven't figured out this strange phenomenon, but I've noticed several other oddities of having a ground-floor office with a large bank of windows. Depending on the time of day and the angle of light, the window appears more reflective than see-through. This makes it an excellent makeshift mirror for passersby to check makeup, pick their teeth, and adjust their cleavage.
It's an endless source of amusement for me, but I hadn't considered the flip-side until my boss walked in after an off-site meeting last week and leaned against my door frame. "Word of advice," he said. "When your whole wall is made up of windows facing the street, don't pick your nose."
He laughed as he walked away, and I tried hard to remember what I'd just been doing. For the record, I'm pretty sure it wasn't nose-picking. I do have the bad habit of pulling at dead skin on my chapped lips this time of year, which is likely what he saw. Then again, I can be a little oblivious when I get into the writing zone at work. It's entirely possible people have walked past to see me hiking up my skirt and scratching my butt cheek.
Still, the boss's joke made me conscious of my actions for the remainder of the day. I tried hard not to do anything that might appear obscene to pedestrians walking by.
It's a bigger challenge than you might imagine.
Near the end of the workday, I pulled out my hand lotion and poured a generous amount in my palm. As is often the case, I got too much. During bare-legged summer months, I simply smear an over-abundance of lotion on my shins, but that wasn't an option with thick winter tights covering my legs. My arms, too, were encased in woolly sweater sleeves that couldn't easily be rolled up.
Out of Kleenex and other options, I hiked up the hem of my sweater and smeared the excess lotion on my bare belly.
That's when the boss walked past on the sidewalk, en route to another meeting. He looked at me. I looked at him. I lowered my shirt and waved.
He was still laughing as he crossed the street. Somehow, I suspect I'll be hearing about this the next time I report for duty.
By the way, thanks to everyone who offered suggestions last Thursday on how I should celebrate the fact that Making Waves has been nominated for "best contemporary romance" in the RT Book Reviews 2011 Reviewers' Choice Awards. I loved all your ideas, particularly the ones that involved reenacting the Cheese Doodle scene from the book. But since I could only pick one, I went with Delia, whose suggestion included a stripper pole and a butt tattoo. Wise ideas, to be sure. Delia, shoot me a message at tawnafenske at yahoo dot com and let me know where I should send your signed copy of Making Waves. Thanks to everyone for playing, and for your kind congratulatory words!