4 Innocent Things It's Impossible Not to Feel Paranoid Doing

#2. Hands in Pockets in a Store

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Once, when I was 9, I stole a chocolate bar from a local variety store. The man behind the counter, an elderly Asian fellow, tried to chase me on the way out, but I ran. As he followed me onto the sidewalk, he slipped on some broken cement and tripped. I heard him cry out, but I didn't stop. The next week, I dared walk by the store and saw that his arm was in a sling and wrapped in bandages. I felt terrible for the man, that his arm had been broken due to my greed and stupidity. Just kidding. I never got caught, and that chocolate bar was fucking sweet.

I gave up on criminal hijinks when I was pretty young and really only stole one other time in my life, and I did get caught and my parents gave me shit and I learned my lesson and grew as a person and rainbows now sprout from my taint when I squeeze my thighs together and make wishes. However, to this day I'm unable to shake the idea that everyone who works at Walmart is convinced I'm after their low-priced, low-quality goods so that I can sell them on the black market and buy me some sweet, sweet crack.

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"Hey, Walmart, I got a sack full of your precious poorly manufactured but reasonably priced garbage."

I have a pretty much pathological aversion to putting my hands in my pockets in any store thanks to my mother convincing me that any store employee who sees me do such a thing is going to have to alert the FBI and Interpol, and I'll be rounded up, sent to Gitmo, and ass-blasted by terrorists for the remainder of my days. That last part my mother never said directly, but I filled it in on my own as years went by.

The tragic part of this is that I do tend to keep my wallet in my pants, so every time I have to reach for it to legitimately pay for anything, I'm struck with the sense that SWAT is going to move in at any moment.

#1. Peeing at a Urinal

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Measuring the speed of thought is a hard thing for the layman to do. I'm sure neuroscience offers up the exact speed it takes some neurons in your noggin to snap off some thought flares down some ganglia into your boner when you see a hot girl, but for a casual experiment, try a urinal. How fast does it take you to convince yourself that another guy thinks you're looking at his dick? About as long as it takes for you to turn your head when someone stands next to you at a urinal.

Now, most guys know already that you don't turn your head at a urinal for precisely this reason, because the guy next to you has his dick in his hand, so what the fuck do you think you're going to see? But say you're there, and alone, and suddenly a guy appears. If you were just enjoying a moment of relaxed urination, you may have let your guard down just enough to be momentarily startled by the presence of this new guy, so startled that, involuntarily, you turn your head ever so slightly to get a look at him, because in literally every other situation on Earth if someone comes out of nowhere and just stands next to you it's totally legit to take a look at them, and in that instant before your brain stops you, you know that that guy knows that you can probably see his dick, which is now what he assumes you were looking for the entire time.

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Yep, that's what he thinks you're thinking.

You were just standing there listlessly at the urinal, you probably didn't even have to piss at all, just rolling the head of your sad, pervy little wiener between thumb and forefinger, waiting for a strange man to approach so you could glance over at his dong when he's at his most vulnerable, out in public and desperately in need of waste elimination. And he didn't want to pull his dick out next to you, he had to because society makes us do it like this, and to add insult to injury, there's you, with your untrimmed fingernails, your four-day-old beard scruff, and the mealy, slightly sweaty head of your own hump tuber in your paw, just looking at his, just eyeballing it like a seagull focused on an errant french fry. This guy probably has a family, probably pays his taxes and minds his own business, volunteers to read to veterans and shit, and he's at the mall, he drank a big Orange Julius, he couldn't contain his urine, and now he knows you know what his dick looks like, and you're probably going to go home and sketch it in your own hand, maybe on horseback, maybe riding a cloud together while it squirts in your eye, you fucking pervert. Thanks. Thanks for that. Thanks for staring at all the dicks in the world, you scumbag criminal sex pervert.

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Felix Clay

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