August 1997
s m u g
bumping uglies
by Todd Levin


Love: Say It with Flowers, Cryptic Letters, and a High-powered Rifle

I was crazy about this girl once. A 100% schoolyard crush. Her name was Christy, and we were in the seventh grade together. I thought about her absolutely every day, even while I was watching The Great Space Coaster (a half-hour period I generally referred to as my "special time"). Couldn't sleep. Couldn't eat. Did all the stupid stuff that teenagers do when they're lovecrazy. She thought it was cute, I imagine, when she would get ridiculously sentimental letters from me, complete with little doodles of valentine hearts and quoted Journey lyrics written in the margins. I think she must have been crazy about me, too, even though we never really had the opportunity to discuss it. But she turned on me (as the flippant hearts of adolescents often do) right around the time I took her entire family hostage.

It was funny: there I was, in my dad's army jacket (he was a deserter, actually, and therefore never saw combat except on TV and in his Sgt. Rock comic books, but bought army fatigues several years after the Vietnam War during the Rambo craze), with a sawed-off shotgun in her mom's mouth, pleading with Christy to go as my date to our French class roller-skating party. I had done so much to get ready for the party, too. I saved up all the money I stole from U.N.I.C.E.F. to purchase new gray parachute pants and this very stylish shirt that snapped open across the chest to reveal a sort of interesting mesh material beneath the traditional cotton of the shirt. I was wearing them both under my dad's novelty flak jacket, as well as a pair of Christy's terrycloth gym shorts (I was wearing the shorts on my head, actually. Yes, I know that you're supposed to wear gym shorts elsewhere but I was, frankly, quite taken up in the moment and in my neighborhood wearing girls' gym shorts on your head in hostage situations was all the rage that summer). But she wouldn't have me.


Eventually, a local neighborhood militia took actions into their own hands and brought me down with a canister of Woolworth brand tear gas. While the tear gas was incapacitating me, I remember distinctly telling Christy, as I choked through the fumes, that I was crying real love tears for her. It was about this time, I think, that Christy kicked me really really hard in the scrotum. She was so resourceful. And, as I began to black out, the last thing I saw was Christy's sweet face hovering above me like an angel. An angel who was sort of mouthing the words, "dickless asshole" while she untied her parents and hamster. That was the first of many heartbreaks and, sadly, also the first of many stalker-related arrests. Ah, youth!


We are all, one time or another, victims of unrequited love. We are shy, awkward, afraid of saying the wrong thing too soon, of wearing our hearts on our sleeves. But how many of us are really willing to turn these crushes into long-term criminal acts? Well, the fine people at "Keen Observer" are. KO is a monthly newsletter written by and for career stalkers - or "People Enthusiasts," as they like to be referred. This publication, which I had the good fortune of getting my hands on this past month, is not for the "weekend" stalker - the casual voyeur or closet panty-sniffer. No, KO is about as close as I have ever seen to a legitimate how-to trade manual for the seriously lovelorn who aren't quite ready to come clean with their hearts but are perfectly willing to assassinate political leaders and television actors as an alternative.

Keen Observer
© 1997 Mark Zingarelli

For those not familiar with the finer qualities of obsessive adoration, each month KO offers a myriad of useful articles on the subject. Here is a small sampling of some of the headlines I grabbed from last month's issue:

"Exhibit T: How Your Tattoos Can be Used Against You as Evidence in a Criminal Investigation"

"How to Build a Masturbation Machine out of Common Household Items"

"Wearing Your Loved One's Skin: Taboo or Ballyhoo?"

"Was Jodie Foster Worth It? KO Interviews the Experts"

"Quiet Shoes and You: A Match Made in Heaven"


I learned things I had no idea I even wanted to know. For instance, there was a wonderful article written by the Reporter-at-Large, Jean-Charles Marrelli-Smith, about the stalker diet. I'll quote:

"People enthusiasts tend to gravitate toward high-starch, high-fat diets. Since we are often confined to uncomfortable spots for extended lengths of time - station wagons, tool sheds, treehouses, oval offices - we are often quick to grab nonperishable snacks loaded in preservatives. The traditional diet of the People Enthusiast often includes Slim Jims, Swiss Miss Puddin' Packs, Durkee Potato Sticks, and Capri Sun drink pouches. But with a little forethought, there's no reason we can't think ahead just a little bit and stock up on dried fruits and trail mix. Obsessive voyeurism can be uncomfortable at times but it needn't be fattening!!"


In addition to its fascinating feature articles, there are recipes, horoscopes, concealment tips, and weekend Big Ten college sports scores. In last month's ish, there was also a pretty interesting article in the "Music and Darkroom Photography" section about popular songs to masturbate to while thinking about killing the president for your true love, submitted by KO readers. Gregg "Smithy" Leonard offered the following: "I like 'Mickey', not just because the song's title refers to the name of my favorite little lady's college roommate at Bard -- which facilitates my masturbation by offering a memory-sense connection -- but because the interesting tempo changes make for a rocky ride."

Curious, I called up Steven John Cloud Smith, a disc jockey on a local adult contemporary radio station, and asked which songs are most frequently requested by stalkers. Surprisingly, there are patterns:

"There are some instances which immediately send up a red flag, especially when the request comes in around 175 times a day. In these cases, the songs really vary, but it's usually something from a film soundtrack. Chances are, if Kenny Loggins was on the same soundtrack, there's a good chance it's a stalker favorite. And, of course, there are some songs which would have disappeared long ago were it not for the continued efforts of lovelorn stalkers. It's gotten so that when a request comes in for 'Every Breath You Take,' standard procedure is to try to get the caller to reveal his or her name and address and promptly dispatch a patrol car to that location. Usually, we have an arrest before Sting gets to that part where he repeats the chorus really really fast. Ah, the inimitable Sting."


There is a lot to be learned from Keen Observer, although there are some throwaway sections. The classified ads are typical - people selling telescopes, spy cameras, Rogaine, Star Trek memorabilia, and slightly used copies of Tony Basil's "Mickey" 7-inch and the personal ads are, in my opinion, pretty unnecessary (they are often frustratingly specific, down to requests for people with specific first and last names, addresses, etc.). Still, stalking has made some of our most treasured public figures that much more public and treasured and has made some of our more private citizens a bit public as well. If not for stalking, we would never have some of the things our society values most: restraining orders, TV movies, the Secret Service. Legality and creepiness aside, it is nice to know that with the publication of newsletters like Keen Observer, even our least socialized individuals have a social and educational outlet. After I got over my own initial misgivings, I actually found myself getting, well, nostalgic. In fact, after I was able to tear myself away from KO, I started thinking to myself, I wonder what Tony Basil's doing these days. I wonder if she likes to roller-skate...


*The author would like to offer special thanks to Mr. Leonard-Smith, Mr. Marrelli-Smythe, and Mr. Cloud-Ssmmiitthh for their thoughtful insight and inspiration in helping to bring this struggle to light.



in the junk drawer:

July 1997
June 1997
May 1997
April 1997
March 1997
February 1997
January 1997

and such
and such

The Chankstore

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