Yesterday was a bummer, man. On Friday, I’d gone to a comedy show. I’d invited a lot of friends to this show, coordinated a lot of efforts, entertained a lot of people while there. I love this sort of stuff and I am good at it. But it takes a good bit out of me. On Saturday, I was tired. It isn’t often that I feel this way, but what I wanted on Saturday was somebody to take care of me. Somebody I know well, somebody I am wholly comfortable with, somebody to make me food. But that wasn’t going to happen, so, I debated between staying in and watching movies, or going out. I decided to choose hope, and went out to the turn the day around. Hope looked back at me and said, “Nope. Not gonna happen.”
It would have been easier to turn an aircraft carrier around than my day. But this is life, my friends, not every day is going to be a winner. I am grateful that most of my days are pretty awesome. That said, yesterday I found myself going to Publix at 7:30pm to pick up two avocados, toothpaste, and a bottle of wine.
A few months ago, a video of a woman getting catcalled in NYC made big news. One of the things that struck me about the video was the woman’s posture. She was sort of curled up into herself. I felt her fear, her tentativeness, watching the video. Personally, I never get catcalled. It just doesn’t happen. And I’ll walk around New York for ten hours, through all kinds of neighborhoods. I generally go out into the world in one of two modes – totally shut down ice cold don’t-talk-to-me and completely game to make friends. I feel like I have control, the ability to click back and forth between these ways of being, depending on where my head’s at. In either mode, I do not perceive men as a threat in general. Sometimes my gut pops up to say “stay away” and I always listen to it, but fear just isn’t a part of my day-to-day life experience.
So there I was yesterday, feeling like a sad little monkey, in the nice Publix shopping center in West Ashley. Before getting my groceries I wanted to grab something from a side store. I walked past a man sitting on a bench. He asked me if I had a smoke, I said no and kept walking, but he didn’t stop talking. Instantly, I was disconcerted. On the way back to the Publix, to get my avocados, toothpaste and bottle of wine, I had to walk past him again. This time he got up from the bench, invaded my personal space, and followed me up to the door. I wanted to verbally confront him, but that guy picked me for a reason – I was already feeling defeated. I had no fight in me.
I said nothing, walked into Publix, instantly grabbed the store manager (who happened to be right there), and told him to kick the guy off the property. Which he did. I had no fight in me, but I certainly had the intellectual capacity to delegate that fight to somebody else.
I got my stuff, checked out and left. When I got to the parking lot, there was now an old black van with electric green stripes parked next to the driver’s side of my car. The man was sitting in the passenger side of the van, his hands and face pressed up against the window. He was laughing at me. If I could murder someone with a look, he would have been dead a thousand times before I drove away. As I left, he waved goodbye. Whoever was driving the van left at the same time I did, but they didn’t follow me.
In the movie Copycat, which I saw because it was about serial killers and had Sigourney Weaver in it, there’s this great line where Weaver says, “Don’t park next to vans.” In the movie, she’s a world famous expert on serial killers and famous author on the subject. She’s walking down a hallway, signing autographs on the move, and that’s what she says to a woman who asks for her autograph: “Don’t park next to vans.” Delivered as if she was saying, “Take care of yourself.” I thought about that as I drove away. Specifically, “What if the van parks next to you?” It’s like the zen koan of dealing with predators.
In conclusion, sometimes days and people are bad, but in the end, it’ll be fine. (That’s my paraphrase of Romans 5:2.)