Albany Park Encounters: Part 1A, B, and C

In honor of my imminent departure from the most diverse zipcode in the nation, I’m going to recount a couple of the funniest/weirdest encounters I’ve experienced in my 4+ years here.

I think top honors would have to go to a story I’ll call:

Motorboated in Albany Park: My experience with my Fat Friend Thomas

Part A

One day last fall, I was exiting the Press room office after putting in some quality time on the latest edition of the NPP. It was about dinner time, and as I began the short walk to my apartment, the setting sun cast a golden glint on the sidewalk… and on a particularly large boy who was walking toward me in the not-very-far distance.

Hmm, poor kid. He’s already that obese and so young. It’s too bad for him, I thought, as I began to cross the street. My thoughts returned to what else I had to do on the newspaper before it was finished, and so it was almost Twilight Zone-ish when, as I was just about reaching the corner, my FFT was simultaneously bursting through the hedge, triumphantly ending up right in front of me, and completely blocking my path.

“Hi, I’m Thomas,” he said, sticking out his left hand.

What the heck, I might as well shake his hand, I figured. I reached out my left hand, too, since my coat was draped over my right arm.

Moving faster than I would have thought possible, Thomas latched onto my hand, using it to propel himself face-first into my bosom, then expertly reached around and rested his right hand on my rear.

I don’t know what to say besides that I was in shock, and I don’t know if any thought passed through my head beyond WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING TO ME RIGHT NOW?! as I tried to push him off of me, while both arms were trapped in front of me in a me + Thomas sandwich.

At some point, his face left my chest and I wrested my hand away from his grip.

“Can I have another hug?”

“Um, NO! No, you can’t!” I informed him.

“Can we shake hands again, then?”

“No, Thomas, no you cannot shake my hand!”

I anticipated him just going for it again, so I took my chance to sqeeze past him and around the corner, where the entrance of my apartment was just yards away.

“Can I come home with you??” Thomas’s voice trailed after as he began following me.

Without a backward glance, I told Thomas in no uncertain terms that he could not come home with me and that it would be best if he returned to his own home.

The end, right? No. This is not the end. That was only the beginning (although definitely the most eventful encounter).

Part B

A few weeks later, my [college] roommate and I were walking down the same street on our way back to the apartment. In the distance, I saw a very large child walking toward us.

“Oh my gosh, K, that’s him. I think that’s Thomas.”

We both giggled in disbelief.

“Is it? Do you think that’s him?”

“Yes! I’m pretty sure it is. Oh my gosh. We have to cross the street!”

So, we crossed, but like a tanker, so did Thomas, as he steadily made his way right for me. K and I tried to huddle behind an unsuspecting North Park male who was walking a few paces in front of us, with K rationalizing that surely Thomas wouldn’t bother us if we were with a guy.

False. The kid made a beeline straight at me, not even blessing K with a glance, as he once again stuck out his hand and declared, “Hi, I’m Thomas!”

“I am not falling for that again,” I muttered as I scrambled after K, who had already dodged the Thomas bullet and had distanced herself with the NP male in between us.

“At least we can outrun him,” K pointed out as I caught up to her. (We did.)

Part C

No further motorboating ensued in Part B, but I had one last Thomas-encounter a couple weeks ago when I made the mistake of walking down the same street only to walk right past the lion’s den (aka Thomas’s abode), where he stood in the front yard and rushed (as well as he is able to do so) toward me, calling after me that his name is Thomas, and did I want to shake his hand?… I didn’t.

And, hopefully, that concludes my Thomas Encounters.

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