It starts out innocently enough. You’re walking along to class, humming along with your iPod, when for no reason at all, your iPod starts playing the theme from Jaws. You look around, but you don’t see anything. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you still see nothing. The music crescendos, the tempo speeds up, your adrenaline’s making your limbs quiver and shake — and then you hear it. You hear the voice behind you utter those dreaded words.
“Hi, can I ask you a couple of questions?”
Congratulations, you have just been ensnared by another insidious representative of some organization or other on the Plaza. You may or may not survive this encounter with your dignity and temper intact. They are the bane of free speech zones everywhere, and they should just be dropped in the duck pond for their outright harassment of us students.
Not content with merely having their claws in you, your captor decides to toy with you, dragging this out and making you suffer. There are three approaches they generally use: “The Guilt-Trip,” “The Irresistible Voice,” or “The Annoying Kid.”
The Guilt-Trip is generally used by female members of the species Representus annoyus, and if you try to make your escape they will allow a frown to cross their features. The lower lip will begin trembling. A heavy sigh will escape their lips. The eyes will become downcast, but not too much, allowing you to see the sparkling tears forming therein. With a shaky voice, they will say, “OK, I guess you have other things to do. See you, I guess.”
Do not be fooled! If you give in to the tugging at your heartstrings and change your mind about going, the crocodile tears will vanish instantly and a manic gleam will light their eyes. You are trapped, and you will only be free when they release you.
Another popular trick is the Irresistible Voice. If you don’t leave your iPod headphones in, you will be lost as soon as they open their mouth. The Voice, as smooth as ice cream and rich as velvet, will paralyze your brain, leaving you standing there, speechless, only able to nod or shake your head, depending on what the Voice wants. You become so focused on it that you fail to notice the eyes turn yellow, with cat-like pupils; you ignore the shoes morphing into cloven hooves; you don’t see the tail work its way out above the waistband of their jeans; and by the time the red horns sprout on the forehead, you’ve blacked out, drunk on that wonderful Voice.
Eventually, you come to. Shaking your head, you find yourself either laden with flyers or merchandise, and you have the vague feeling that you promised to be at the next meeting of their organization. Such people possessed with that gift tend to have bright futures as used-car salesmen, drug dealers, serial killers, cult leaders, or worst of all, politicians.
Finally, there’s the tactic that elementary school students the world over have used for time immemorial: The Annoying Kid. You say, “I’m sorry, I have to go,” and then turn around — but they’re in front of you again!
“It’ll only take just a second!” they beg. “Now, how long have you been a Lutheran, and do you know why exactly you’re going to Hell?”
“No, really, I have class —”
“Just two seconds!”
Such an experience happened to me the other day. Some annoying representative dogged my footsteps on the way to my Spanish lesson. “This will be the most important minute of your life!” they squealed as I tried to avoid them. “I promise you, it’ll only be a minute or two.”
I was face with two choices; I could lose my temper, or I could run. I ran. My sneakers slapped against the wet pavement, my heart thundered in my chest, sweat poured down my face and back — and to my horror, the representative was not only following me, but gaining! With their fangs gleaming and claws shining, they chased me, their muscles as powerful as a predator’s. Bloodlust lit their eyes; they looked inhuman. Briefly, I wondered if it was possible to turn into a werewolf in the middle of the day, and my feet sped up.
I made it inside Eddy with seconds to spare, and collapsed. My hunter growled and walked away, reverting to human form. All in all, it was another typical experience with a Representus annoyus.
Allison Chase is a junior Creative Writing major. Letters and feedback can be sent to email@example.com.