Saturday, March 04, 2006

Cultivate the RAGE!

I like taking long walks at night - the cool air lets me work up a light sweat without getting that uncomfortable "red-faced and everyone can see" feeling. There's less traffic, very few zooming delivery trucks, soccer moms, construction guys whistling as they almost run me over... In short, its just better. Windows glow or flicker, depending on the lighting or TV situation. Curtains reveal or conceal whatever their owners allow. A glance through a window shows vignettes of domestic duties winding down. I love the silences between cars, using my footsteps as the beat and measure of time. In short: A brisk walk after dinner (or sometimes, instead of dinner) is one of my favorite ways to to clear my head. Rarely do I think about anything more important than "Ooooh! I want my yard to look like that!".

S. has always insisted that I choose and carry a flashlight from his "quiver" - they are all very bright, extremely powerful and SMALL, pocket or hand-sized.

  • This is the one I like
  • I admit, I've chafed a bit when he's made me take a flashlight on a candy foraging tour down the block. On beautiful, full-moon nights, I am wont to cry out, "But its going to ruin my NIGHT vision! Noooo!" but I take the flashlight, mostly to get out of the house and down to those delectable Doritos.
  • Last night, I read this entry over at Dancing Brave
  • and immediately (silently) decided to never, ever mock S. for his flashlit paranoia again.

    Now of course, this *was* in L.A., which is 90 minutes (depends greatly on traffic) and a world away. Incidents like that happen every day, every hour
  • (hello, Radiohead lyrics!)
  • down there. Santa Barbara is smaller, admittedly, so less crime, right? Right, but bad things DO happen and preparedness is better than being sorry. Heather wrote that she was going to go check out some Mace and park elsewhere (both V. Good Ideas), and I wrote her this comment:
    "Some Things About Mace, Or: The Reason my Husband Insists I carry a Very small, Extremely Bright Flashlight instead:
    1. Mace doesn't always go off
    2. Is only effective right IN the eyes (it hurts on skin, but a determined/drugged person could get by) and can also blow back on YOU if you are downwind.
    Now for the flashlight lecture: You can get a small (tube of quarters size) sturdy (you can use it as a weapon to poke at eyes or "pack" your fist for a very effective punch...) flashlight and keep it on your key ring. In dusk/dark, the Right Kind can temporarily blind anyone - which would leave you ample time to run/scream/escape."

    Which completes the "Safety" section of this posting, so now we move on too the "Empowerment" section.

    Once upon a time, I lived
  • here - I'd move back in a SECOND, if you must know
  • One balmy evening, I was walking home (alone) through a little back alley-way - not the most brilliant move, but understand a) it saved me about four blocks b) I'd walked there about ten thousand times before with no incident. On one side of the walkway, people's back fences back up to a field where the local growers cultivate hydrangeas and the like. The guys who harvest the flowers are, by and large, are nice guys who are just doing their jobs and trying to provide for their families in their adopted country.

    On this particular evening, one of them must have had a couple of shots of tequila and hopped on his bike to go home. I was walking down the cul-de-sac that backed up to a bike path, connected to the walkway, minding my own business. I heard the faint whirrrrrrrr! of a cheap ten-speed cruising down the sidewalk. "Hmm... Now why would anyone ride down the sidewalk when there's a perfectly wide empty street? Oh well, whatever..", but I got out my keys all the same and walked over to the middle of the brightly lit street. The whirrrring noise went, "whirrrrrrr! CluNk! WhirRRRRRRRR!", and got a bit louder.

    I stepped back on to the sidewalk, trying to get out of the way. The whirrrrr! followed me, and got just. a. tiny. bit. closer and louder. My brain clicked, and I readjusted my grip on my keys, one poking out between each of the fingers of my clenched right fist. The Whirrrrrr! approached, and I felt adrenaline surge through my veins in a feverish rush.

    I heard a mumbled, "Ayyy, mami..." and felt the beginning of a hand sliding around my nether regions - at which point the temper I've struggled to control my entire life exploded out of my right fist. The single roundhouse punch hit him directly in the face and knocked him off the bike, leaving him sprawled on the ground, with three bloody gashes in his cheek. "TRY IT, YA BASTARD! JUST TRY it, and SEE WHAT HAPPENS! I'LL HAVE THE POLICE ON YOU SO FAST YOU WON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT HIT YOU!" etc, etc, (this is, of course, the edited version. Use your imagination.)

    Now, in hindsight, I should have just took off running - but... the Temper, she is a mean, mean beast, not easily tamed. I ordered him to get back on his bike and RIDE, SUCKA, RIDE, before I called the cops, and stomped home in a rage that took the better part of the evening to cool - good thing I was home alone, huh? When I called my boyfriend and told him what happened, his reaction, "Are you ok?" (Hello, I'm not the one with the imprints of three keys in my face) "Do ya want me to come over?" (Nope) seemed silly to me. When I think about it now, I am a bit frightened, but the rage I felt, the RAGE! that shot through me - the RAGE! - saved me.

    So what I say to women out there - don't be foolish, carry a flashlight and a cell phone, but don't forget your RAGE! Stash some mace if you must, but don't forget your RAGE! Take a self-defense class if you feel so inclined, but don't forget your RAGE! ... Save your RAGE! - it might save YOU someday.

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