Remember yesterday when I said that since I was travelling by myself the first time I went to the UK and Ireland, it was pretty common for other B&B guests to strike up conversations with me? And that it was nice most of the time?
Sometimes it wasn’t.
When I scheduled my trip to Ireland, I gave myself more time in Cork than any other town or city because I thought I would like it best. (I was right, by the way. Cork is one of my favourite places in the world.) My B&B was great, aside from a bit of a bathroom situation, and it had a nice large breakfast room on the ground level where I met lots of nice fellow travellers.
Now, when I say that I met them, I really do just mean that I met them. I have never been one of those travellers who goes to random cities and meets people, then becomes life-long friends with them. I’m more of a chat-over-breakfast-then-say-goodbye-and-never-see-each-other-again-but-remember-each-other-fondly type. Like the lovely Australian couple I chatted with on my first morning in Cork. Not only were they sweet, they were two of the sexiest men I had ever seen. I don’t remember much of what we talked about. I’m only human, after all. And I was 19. So I’m sure I giggled a lot.
But then there was the day I met Jaz.
I was having breakfast and I could see him staring at me. I’m pretty sure this was after my bathroom fiasco was over, so I had, in fact, taken a shower that morning and was no longer worried about how greasy my hair looked/was. Jaz – a Londoner, I would later learn – was probably somewhere between 29-34, and I was only 19, so his staring worried me slightly. I tried to keep eating, avoiding eye contact entirely.
But guys, I’m a crazy magnet. And also, I’m too nice to just tell people off 98% of the time, so when he struck up a conversation, I hesitantly responded to his small talky questions.
Then he asked me what I was up to for the day.
SIDENOTE: YEAH, I’m aware I should have lied. Hindsight and all that.
So I told him: “I’m going on a guided bus tour of the city.”
And he was like, “Great, I’ll join you!”
I was honestly speechless. He had just invited himself to spend the day with me. I finished my breakfast as quickly as I could and was like, “Okay, see ya,” thinking that he might not actually follow me. But he did. He suuuuuuure did.
It might have been fun if Jaz were like, young and cool, but he was old (compared to me) and awkward, and he did a lot of staring at me and it made me beyond uncomfortable. He asked a lot of questions. I tried to answer as vaguely as possible. But rather than take the hint, he just kept asking questions.
And of course, Cork is a small city, and it was a rainy day, so for the majority of the guided bus tour, Jaz and I were the only two fucking people on that stupid bus.
I thought I could deter him by showing him how boring I am, so I blurted out, “I’m going to do a whole loop without doing the hop-on/hop-off thing. I want to hear all about the city’s history.”
And he was like, “Cool.”
So there we sat. Only instead of listening to the city’s history, Jaz asked me awkward question after awkward question and stared at me. I wondered how my family would be notified if I got kidnapped and murdered in the middle of Cork, Ireland by some guy with a stupid name. I thought about whether I could beat him off me with the umbrella he had been holding onto all day. I kept forgetting to pay attention and actually see the city going past me.
And then I was saved.
(That’s gonna seem like a great pun in a second. Just wait for it.)
The lovely recording blaring through the bus’ speaker system started describing the next stop on the hop-on/hop-off tour: St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral. Completed in 1879, built by architect William Burges, blah, blah, blah.
I stopped listening when Jaz said, “Meh, I’m not one for religion. I don’t think I could be bothered to stop at that one.”
“I NEED TO SEE THIS PLACE!”
I jumped out of my seat and ran to the side door of the bus.
“Sorry, this is really important to me. Maybe I’ll catch you later?”
And before he could respond, I jumped off the bus and ran for St. Fin Barre’s.
I spent the next few days going to breakfast either unreasonably early or 10 minutes before they stopped serving in hopes of avoiding Jaz.
I never saw him again.
Maybe he was actually a really nice, but incredibly awkward and inappropriate, dude. Maybe he’ll come across this story by some freak chance and go, “Wait, that’s me – she had it all wrong!” Maybe.
But regardless, that was the day I learned that some people don’t understand personal boundaries.*
*It was also the day I decided I was very smart in not booking myself beds at hostels instead of B&Bs. My magnet’s just too strong for that shit.