Friday, August 6, 2010

The Creeper Codger

A while back, Coffee Bean made a list of the five people you encounter on the bus. One of those notable characters was the Creeper, the disgusting person who relentlessly hits on you when that is the last thing you want them to do.

Deep in my own recollections, I can't quite remove the memory of one Creeper that I met...

It was just after work at the Lycée. I had just taken the number 6 Divia bus and got off at the Place Darcy stop in the center of town. I stood on the crowded sidewalk with the Dijonnais who had congregated at the stop in the late November afternoon. Everyone remained silent and huddled closely to each other, probably to create a human barrier of warmth against the unforgiving cold. I waited for the number 3 bus to arrive to take me home. Everyone had their taut lips petrified and had glum expressions. Everyone was silent.

All except one.

At first, I didn't think too much of this older gentleman. Yes, he did strike me as a little bizarre due to his appearance. His breath reeked distinctly of rotten cigars and that only three teeth (yes, I counted them) occupied his wide, hollow mouth. His left eye was also shut. I'm not sure if that was due to the eyeball itself being missing. I estimated that he would have been taller than my height had the massive bent that comes with old age not attacked his spinal column.

Still, I only took him as an elderly fellow who merely asked me a question to which I did not know the answer. A woman standing near us answered it for him and he thanked her politely. I thought that would be the end of our chance encounter and I soon found myself boarding the bus to go home. I entered the middle set of the bus's doors and sat myself in one of the two empty seats adjacent to the exit.

The Codger also mounted and looked for a place to sit. I then automatically committed the worst mistake when you are using a public transportation system: I made eye contact and smiled at him.

Eye contact is bad enough. Adding a smile is just an invitation for trouble. This action is simply too natural for me. In France, it is said that if you smile too much, people will perceive you as a being who possesses very little I.Q. points. I am far too friendly for my own good.

He, of course, smiled right at me and limped towards the empty seat next to me. Since I had chosen the chair closer to the window, he promptly trapped me when he plopped his thin frame in the vacant seat.

Still smiling like a loon, he began a conversation with me.

Bereft of a proper dental structure, his guttural French forced me to listen closely to what he had been trying to communicate. I found myself asking him to repeat his words because I had not understood them clearly. He gladly did what I requested and then, to illustrate his intended message, he calmly laid his head on my shoulder, wrapped his arm around my body and began caressing my hair with his bony fingers.

At this point, the Codger had started to address me using the familiar tu form. When he had first asked me the question about rue de la Préfecture, I was still a vous.

For those who are not familiar with French or Romance languages, there are two ways of saying "you." In French, they are vous and tu. The former is used when the speaker addresses a complete stranger and does not want to appear insubordinate. Vous denotes a respectful distance between both persons, and it is used not only for strangers but also work colleagues, persons of influence (teachers, policemen, the President) and the elderly.

Tu, on the other hand, denotes familiarity. It is used to address young children, friends, family and...the other half.

My decrepit Romeo either thought I was a child or viewed me as a potential girlfriend.

*blood-chilling scream of horror*

If you haven't figured it out by now, when a guy flirts with me, I am like a deer caught in the proverbial headlights. I simply don't know how to get out of an awkward situation to save my life.

I began to have an internal battle with my "make a commotion and get the hell out of here" instinct and my "be nice and polite to others, especially the elderly" teaching. The latter won. Romeo continued his quest to draguer me, of hitting me up.

Now, I don't like to lie. I didn't have a pen; I had three.

But the ones about the notebook and cellphone were flat-out lies. The Codger didn't grasp my subtle "go away" point.

Perhaps his home aide worker wasn't giving him enough nighttime baths.

With each bus stop that we passed, I began to worry that should I reach my intended destination and he were still next to me, then he might find out where I live and proceed to follow me to my apartment...

Still being near the Centre Ville, my octogenarian Don Juan then tried to lure me off the bus.

If you've read the "About Us" section of our blog, you would think that my not liking coffee would be another lie. This wasn't exactly a lie. I don't like coffee. I love the stuff. Just not enough to sit at a café with Cassanova.

To my great relief, he got off at a stop what was far away from where I needed to descend.

I was left rattled by this occurrence. Two months had passed since my arrival in Dijon, and I already knew other assistants who were able to strike up a friendship or a relationship with a Frenchman. I, however, still had no one by my side. Not to sound vain, but I think I'm pretty enough to attract guys slightly younger than he was. I remember thinking, frustrated, "Good God, is this really the best I can find in France?" (Of course not; I met my considerably younger and attractive ex a few months later...)

I told my landlord about my experience, recounting all the details about the Codger, and he, jokingly, replied saying that I had found le gros lot, the lottery of my life.

Dang it. If he truly was le gros lot, then I should have gone out for coffee with him. Who knows? I might be happily married to a Frenchman by now.

Barb the French Bean


  1. Ew. Just EW.

    I'm not sure whether I ever told you about the time I was biking to dance practice in Japan (a 40 minute ride) and discovered upon my arrival that some random middle-aged guy had been following me for the past half hour. He actually said, "You're cute, so I followed you. You bike really fast." And he wouldn't let me get away without sharing my email. >.< I ended up giving him an old one and started taking a different route to practice.

  2. EW! Everyone who has BEEN on a bus has met the Bus Creeper, though - it's a fact. I was riding downtown with a friend one night and our creeper hopped on and sat directly across from us (front of the bus, so we were facing each other). He promptly began to toss out date ideas that the THREE of us could explore...all the while...PEEING HIS PANTS. Yep, we sat there in shock, watching the puddle spread.

    Then my girlfriend and I arm-wrestled to see who could snuggle with him first.

  3. You inspired a post! My friend and I had a similar experience with a creepy codger. I'll link it to your post once it's done. This was hilararious!!! :)

  4. This is hysterical! Due to working from home, I recently decided to get rid of my car and take in the truly unique sights one can only find when riding public transportation. Thankfully, my boyfriend often rides the bus with me. So while I'm not subjected to codgers, creeps, or other such wildlife, we certainly get to witness this phenomena quite frequently. My personal favorite are the guys who will hit on gals that are clearly out of their league/not interested, then get angry over being brushed off as if they were some sort of jackpot.

  5. Haha, that was hilarious! I'm exactly the same, I couldn't get out of an embarrassing situation to save my life either. Its terrible! and I loved the illustrations... oh boy. =D

  6. @Tricia: Girl, I LOL'd at the puddle! I bet he thought that'd seal the deal ;-)

    @Barb: I have mixed views on these people. I think they fall into two categories - those who are chancers/pervs and those who are genuinely a few sandwiches short of a picnic. It's a pretty massive invasion of personal space to do that to someone so you sometimes have to wonder if they're all there upstairs.

    I've had a few creepy codger experiences myself. One was in South of Europe when an old smelly dude who sat next to me on the metro and started stroking my thigh! I was having none of it and firmly told him to stop. He looked disappointed (what was he expecting? That I'd say 'carry on'?) but stopped. Not nice to deal with, but you shouldn't have to put up with the invasion of personal space if it makes you uncomfortable!

  7. He could have been a millionaire.

    Surprisingly I have had a similar experience. Two actually. One with a woman old enough to be my mother coming onto me on the tram and asking me for my phone number and another which was a very gay old man coming onto me at the train station. So I think I know how you feel a little bit.

  8. Zora: Thankfully, you managed to wriggle your way out of that one. O_O"

    Tricia: I also remember being on a bus where a homeless man wet himself (he thankfully kept to himself). So, who won the arm-wrestle? ^.^

    Ainjo: Can't wait to see your post! :-D

    Rachel: You're lucky in that aspect, to have someone to accompany you. And, who knows? Maybe he *was* my gros lot...

    Eden: Eek!

    Stu: I do remember reading about that on your blog!

    Even if he were a millionaire...I don't think I could bring myself to have him be my "sugar daddy." :-P

    Thanks everyone for the compliments!

    -French Bean

  9. That's a horror story! I hate the creeper on the bus! Make them forever go away! Great story, and great illustrations. Since he had only 3 teeth, all he could consume were beverages: Coffee, orange juice ... Oh ick ick ick!!

  10. Seems like juts another *an extreme desperate* lonely old man looking for affection :)

  11. Yeah, I forgot to put something in the comment and decided to delete it rather than double post.

    Here goes: After these stories, I don't think I'll ever go on public transportation. >,>; Next time you go on the bus, wear a fake ring to suggest you're taken. If that doesn't work, strike up conversation with someone else on the stop or on the bus.

  12. Melody: I sometimes wonder what would have happened if he had invited me for dinner...would he eat mashed potatoes with his coffee?

    Envoy: "Desperate" may just be an understatement...

    RandomRambler: It's not a bad idea to wear a fake ring, but then it signals to single guys interested in me that I'm taken. :-P It's a win-lose situation.

  13. Damn, one of the funniest things I have read in a long time. As usual, your cartoons MAKE THE POST!!


Apparently, leaving comments on this blog is a hit-or-miss game of Russian roulette: you are either lucky and can comment away, or you are required to log in when the settings are CLEARLY set to allow trouble-free commenting (sorry 'bout that, folks). If anything, the Facebook page is always a viable option. :) -Barb