An odd feeling that the French probably have a phrase for.

I just read what might possibly be my most favorite-est comment ever on my favorite economics blog, Café Hayek—and it was posted by a guy named “Dom” (you’ll have to scroll down a little to find it):

You know what I like? When one and the same person tells us that Big Oil is killing us with high prices, and Walmart is killing us with low prices.

I wish I’d said it first.

Last night I went to a buddy’s birthday party at a TGI Friday’s in Naperville. As I walked in and got closer to our party’s table, I experienced an odd feeling that the French probably have a phrase for. It wasn’t déjà vu, or l’esprit d’escalier, or any of their four hundred distinct ways of saying “we surrender.”

If anyone can give a name to this feeling, I’d be much obliged: I sensed that I had been recognized by someone who didn’t expect to see me.

I glanced at the table next to ours and saw a young couple in their late teens or early twenties. The girl was staring at me and looked an awful lot like a former student of mine. Normally, I would have let it go at thinking, “Hey, that girl looks like Former Student X,” and sat down to my dinner. But the look on her face simply intensified my perception of having been recognized.

Her jaw dropped a little. She had a combination of surprise and a particular fear in her eyes, as though she hadn’t expected to see me, and was shocked that I had found—or caught—her either doing something she wasn’t supposed to be doing, or in a place she didn’t normally belong. She looked like a kid who’d been caught skipping class, or cheating on a test… and she just knew she was about to get hammered.

This certainly wasn’t an embarrassing place to be seen. There was nothing sinister going on; she was just eating dinner with some guy, and I was going to have dinner with some friends. But the look on her face said that she did not expect to see me, of all people, a thousand miles away from the last place she’d seen me.

A few minutes later, she and her boyfriend, or brother, or fiance, or husband, or whatever got up to leave. After they walked out, she and I made eye contact one last time through the window, and one last time there was that odd, as-yet-nameless sensation.

I know that she was not, in fact, the student that she resembled. She wasn’t anyone I knew, or anyone who knew me, and she was certainly thinking, “Why is that jerk staring at me?” rather than the thoughts and feelings I just described. Nonetheless, I felt that I had been recognized, and that she was afraid of me. It wasn’t a good feeling.

One Response to “An odd feeling that the French probably have a phrase for.”

  1. aabrock Says:
    April 28th, 2006 at 8:45 AM

The next step is clear: Big Oil must give a portion of its obscene profits to Wal-Mart.

Hopefully the government can take this as a sign to get busy and define “correct” pricing for items to avoid this kind of thing in the future.


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