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Hi. Welcome to “A Thousand Words”, September 13th, 2019. I’m Richard.
I have some unfortunate news to deliver – after eleven years, PodClub will be discontinuing  all its podcasts at the end of September. Which means today is my second to last podcast. I want to thank you very much for all the time you’ve spent listening to my stories. I’ve enjoyed telling them hopefully as much as you’ve enjoyed listening. Today I have a story about falling in love.
I fell in love today… three times.
The first was with a smell I was sure was cinnamon . It reminded me of the pancakes my grandmother used to make on Sunday as I watched early morning cartoons in the living room. She put cinnamon in the batter , and then when they were ready I put maple syrup on them and sprinkled  more cinnamon on top. I was on the tram and the smell lifted me up from my seat and I followed it out, onto the crowded  sidewalk, and then into a building I didn’t see the name of. There I found it – cinnamon, coming out of a pink box in the hands of a woman neatly dressed waiting for the elevator. I rode the elevator up five floors and then silently said goodbye to the smell as the woman stepped off.
The second was with a sound, wooden wind chimes  on a second floor balcony. I was on my way to teach a lesson but stopped to take a seat on a bench nearby and listened to the wind make music with the wood. The sound reminded me of a neighbor I had in San Francisco, whose wind chimes played a continuous melody in the never-ending breezes from the ocean.
The third was with a pair of ankles  I saw as I was having coffee at a café in the late afternoon. They were dressed in black straps  that rose up from a woman’s shoes. I was almost finished with my coffee but ordered two more so I could sit longer and steal glances at  them. I don’t have a foot fetish that I’m aware of. But there was something about the shape of the ankles, and the color of the skin, and the thin tattoo that spelled out a word I couldn’t see just under the left one. They were so lovely, so self-confident , and dressed so nicely in the black straps which I saw through flanking. Apparently, that’s what it’s called – flanking: the fashion where people’s pants don’t go all the way down to their shoes, or are rolled up so they don’t go all the way down. There’s a gap  of bare skin between the bottom of the pants and the top of the shoes. Flanking! Flankers usually don’t wear socks or they wear short socks that don’t reach up to the ankles. That’s how I was able to see them. And when they eventually got up and walked away, I paid and followed behind them.
Now, help me out here. There’s nothing wrong with that, right? Nothing wrong with getting up from the table and walking behind them? Because when I hear myself say it out loud, it sounds kind of creepy . And I don’t want to be misunderstood. All I wanted was to look at the ankles a little bit longer. I wanted to see them in action, moving along the sidewalk. I didn’t lust after them  sexually, or the woman herself. To be honest, I didn’t even really notice the rest of the woman. It was just the ankles I saw and the ankles I fell in love with – love at first sight. Do you believe in love at first sight? Some don’t think you can fall in love so quickly. Some think love comes only over time. But there are so many types of love in the world. Funny, with so many types of love we have so few words to describe them all - Love loves to love love. So few words for all the many types of love: the love you can have for a person, for an animal, for a forest or an ocean, for a movie or music or delicious food.
You can modify  the word love – there’s parental love, sibling  love, romantic love, lustful love, love at first sight, platonic love, conditional love , the love you have for an old shirt, the love you can have for a sound or a smell or for ankles. But they’re all love.
And with nothing more to do that day, with all my responsibilities taken care of, I decided to follow the ankles.
So, there I was following behind them, two shapely ankles that didn’t know they were being followed. And as I walked behind, far enough back to make sure they didn’t know I was following, another word besides love crept into  my mind – stalker.
Stalker? That’s a strong word! I’m no stalker, I answered back. You’ve got some nerve ! I was just… walking, that’s all, turning the same corners on the same streets.
What’s the difference, the voice asked?
Well, I answered – lots of differences. Stalking is following and then some. It’s potentially dangerous. It’s unwanted attention . It can lead to fear and unwanted contact. So, where’s the danger in what I was doing? I had no intention of making contact with the ankles. I wasn’t planning on striking up  a conversation with them, or asking them out to dinner, or trying to get them into bed. I just wanted to see them a little longer, from a distance, before they disappeared. I wasn’t following them to find out where they lived or what their habits were so I could run into them  again another day. My presence behind them was the same as the dozens of other people walking behind them in the same direction. I was a voyeur, if anything. A mobile voyeur. And voyeurism and stalking are not the same thing. If they were, everyone who sits at a café and lets their eyes watch people who pass by are equally voyeur and stalker.
But did the ankles know that, the voice asked? Did the ankles know your innocent intentions ? Did they know you meant them no harm ? If they knew that you were following them, how do you think they would feel? Maybe you’re too worried about definitions, the voice said. No one likes being called things they don’t like the name of - yuppie, hippie, hipster, fascist, stalker.
But if the shoe fits, wear it ?
I fell in love today three times, the last with a pair of ankles that I followed behind as far as I could, until I could no longer call myself NOT a stalker. I let the ankles disappear as they turned a corner, and I turned in the opposite direction. If I had continued following them and discovered where they lived, where they relaxed and felt comfortable, I would have needed to wear that description of stalker. But that was a shoe I didn’t want to wear.
Thanks for listening.
I hope you liked the podcast or others you’ve listened to on our website podclub.ch. If so, tell a friend or write us a message. You can download our app if you’d like, and we also have a vocabulary trainer to help you practice some of the new words you heard. You can also follow us on Instagram.
I’ll be back on September 27th with my final podcast something special which I’ve decided to do in one of my Migros Club School English classes.