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

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

They say paranoia is God's way of letting you know you've got squirrels in the bat cave. No one says that. There's probably some sayings about paranoia out there, but I'm not looking them up because I don't want Google knowing I know what they know. Here's the thing, though: Paranoia can get layered and weird if you're not careful. It's bad enough to think everyone is watching you, but it gets so much worse if you think they're watching you because they think you're watching them. Or, God forbid, they're watching you watching them watching you watching them. Pretty soon your life is an Abbott and Costello routine and you're showering with the lights off, just in case.

I think a good dose of paranoia is probably healthy; after all, the NSA is literally listening to you. They really are. They do it all the time. Probably someone else is doing it, too. Just because we, as a people, decided to not care that the government spies on us all the time doesn't mean we need to stop being paranoid about it, but it does mean we should probably relax the reins on the ol' paranoia-coaster now and then so it doesn't get too crazy.

Following Someone for Too Long

4 Innocent Things It's Impossible Not to Feel Paranoid Doing
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Earlier this week, I was out being glamorous and signing autographs for big-breasted orphans or whatever. When that grew tiresome, I decided to walk home, which naturally saw me leaving through an alley full of dumpsters. As I crept out of the squalid darkness onto a street populated by you surface dwellers, I noticed a girl walking past and she noticed me, and thus began an awkward moment that extended into a solid 15-minute walk.

I got onto the sidewalk maybe five paces behind this girl, a slight blonde of about 20 whom I probably outweighed by 50 pounds and outcreeped by about four days' worth of not shaving. She walked, I walked. She walked, I walked. She very slightly looked behind her, I walked. She took a left onto a shortcut through a field, and I sighed, since that was the same way I was going.

4 Innocent Things It's Impossible Not to Feel Paranoid Doing
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"G-g-g-g-g-Felix Clay!"

As I followed her along a makeshift path through a wide-open and unkempt field, both of us getting further and further away from anyone who would find her body, I started to worry that she was worrying about me following her. In fact, I became convinced that with every step, she was sure that I was opening a small jar of capers in my pocket that I would use to garnish her eyeballs and spleen when I ate them behind a rock whilst masturbating sometime in the next half hour.

We left the field together as the sun began to set and she opted to take the road to the east, the one with no sidewalk and pretty much nothing but forest on the right side, because I guess maybe she wanted to make sure I had every opportunity to stash her dismembered corpse where only raccoons would find it. Yeah, that's the way I walk home, too.

4 Innocent Things It's Impossible Not to Feel Paranoid Doing
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"Ugh, I have face-meat stuck between my toes."

You'll be happy to know that, in reality, I don't murder strangers, and this girl was no different. I had every intention of walking this same path all by myself before she so rudely got ahead of me and convinced me for 15 minutes that she knew that I was a deranged psychopath.

At the next corner, she breezed right on past where I lived, probably a little sad that maybe I didn't want her after all, and went back to wherever she comes from, whole and intact and maybe only slightly rattled at having been followed halfway home. Or maybe she didn't even pay attention to me at all and I literally wasted my entire walk home stressing over holding in any sudden urges I may have had to kill a stranger, just so I wouldn't give her the satisfaction of being right about me, when she wasn't even thinking that about me in the first place, meaning I very well could have done that and been completely justified. I'll never know.

Movie Theater Farts

4 Innocent Things It's Impossible Not to Feel Paranoid Doing
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Is there anything worse than a movie theater fart? You might be inclined to think elevator fart, but when's the last time you spent two hours in an elevator with the smell of hot buttered popcorn mixing into the cloud of shit gas? No, a movie theater fart is its very own diabolical menace that unfolds like a turd-laced Lament Configuration, welcoming you to experience layers of suffering. At first you're struck with the awfulness that is the realization that some asshole, literally and figuratively, just farted in your general vicinity in the darkness. And then, if you're an overthinking type, as you ponder what uncouth jackass did that, you'll realize that everyone in a Minesweeper-size grid around you is doing the same thing. Are you at Ground Zero? You could potentially have as many as seven people directly around you who think you just shat yourself, plus one guy who actually did do it. Or more, depending on potency. If this thing starts row hopping, half the theater is up for grabs, and everyone is wondering which asshole did it. And make no mistake, the people closest to you will just assume it was you. And you know it.

4 Innocent Things It's Impossible Not to Feel Paranoid Doing
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Smells like Lars von Trier trying too hard.

So you have to sit there, the smell of hot Becel and shriveled hot dogs wafting in and out of the viscous, throat-clogging nebulosity of a burrito that fermented in the gullet of someone within arm's reach of you. And you can't try to look innocent, because that's a dead giveaway that you're the jerk who did it. Nor can you look disgusted, because of course that's also what the guy who did it would do to try to look innocent. You have to sit perfectly still and pretend like every time you put a peanut M&M in your mouth that it's not laced with butt and wait until you and everyone near you has inhaled the fart to death. Like the Ghostbusters opening their trap to contain Slimer, so too must all of you just breathe and breathe and breathe until you've killed the fart the only way we know how, by consuming the fucking thing. What are we, dark ages slaves to a barbarian horde? You're damn right we are, in the confines of a dark theater when someone shits their pants. You'll take it and like it and not even wince, because if you do, if you make a face or groan or anything, then everyone will know it's you, you're the fucking farter, you're the loose-sphinctered shitter who couldn't have the decency to leave the room. You're the goddamn decay of society whose loose asshole just sputters like an outboard motor whenever and wherever it pleases.

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

Hands in Pockets in a Store

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

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

"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.

Peeing at a Urinal

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

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