Wednesday, October 05, 2011

urban life and how it is enhanced by a certain semi-suicidal outlook

Episode I: Not too long ago the Sober Husband, the children and I were walking home from the Castro, when we passed some homeless people on the benches at Harvey Milk plaza. That's a completely normal experience, but what happened next wasn't. One of the street people -- a very unclean and unhappy looking man in his twenties -- got up off the bench and came up to me, pleading. "I really need a hug," he said, fixing me with a really crazed look and ignoring the Sober Husband at my side. I hesitated briefly, and the thought that this guy was going to stab me entered my mind. Ignoring that thought, I opened my arms and let the homeless person hug me. He clung to me gratefully, tearing up and burying his filthy head in my shoulder. After what felt like a very long time I disentangled myself from him. The man said sincerely, 'Thank you! I needed that so much!" and kept calling out his gratitude as we walked away.

"I thought that guy was going to stab you," said the Sober Husband as we walked out of earshot.

"I kinda thought that, too," I said, "but I decided to give him a a chance. After all, I was probably the only maternal figure available to him."

"You're very brave," said the Sober Husband approvingly.

Episode II: Recently I was walking home from working out at the gym, walking up a hilly, quiet, dark residential street. A cab began to follow me, driving slowly up ahead of me, waiting until I got close again, and then jumping ahead a bit. This went on. Obviously the cab wasn't looking for my business, or it would have pulled up next to me and asked if I wanted a cab. It was equally obvious that I was the object of its attention, because there were no other pedestrians on the street. And obviously it wasn't just trolling for business, because just a block over lay a street chock full of restaurants, bars, and cafes which would be full of cab-craving drunks. Clearly something creepy was going on. The prior weekend I'd taken several cabs, and I thought back to that time. I didn't think I'd undertipped or insulted the cabbies or left anything behind (indeed I'd bonded with a Filipino cabby, professing my deep and unswerving love of the Philippines).

During one of the cab's odd leapfrogs of me, a car honked irritably as the cab suddenly stopped to wait for me, without putting on its blinkers. I assessed the situation. I was carrying a largeish, heavy bag, which contained, among other things, a sturdy metal drinking bottle full of water and a large hardback book. I decided that if I swung that bag as hard as I could at either the cab or its driver, the odds were pretty good I could break a side window or a nose, depending. I continued up the hill, holding my bag in a ready position. At the crest of the 17th Street hill, at the big complicated and well-lit intersection, the cab was lying again in wait for me, but as I caught up, heavy bag at the ready, suddenly the cab changed its mind and cut across three lanes of traffic illegally, racing in the opposite direction from me and causing many, many cars to honk crazily in protest. "Huh," I thought. "Changed his mind." I walked down the hill without seeing the cab again.

At home, the Sober Husband was alarmed by this story. "Did you get the cab's number? Let's call the cab company." I hadn't bothered to pay attention to the cab's license plate number; I'd only prepared myself mentally for potential pedestrian-cab violence. The Sober Husband was a little nonplussed at my outlook. I confided, "Urban life is actually easier when you're still just a little bit suicidal."


Silliyak said...

You're available for hugs? NOW you tell me.

hughman said...

this is why you shouldn't dress like a young jodie foster

the Drunken Housewife said...

It is true, I do run around dressed like a teenaged skank far too much of the time. said...

Yet another adventure from a dynamic woman.I liked your narration.

hughman said...

Your story has woman features we find appealing. We enjoyed your storytelling effects.