I speak from experience when I say, you never know how you will react in the depths of a dire emergency.
Take for example, the attempted break-in we had, centuries ago, when The Hubby and I were first married. We lived in this charming, one bedroom apartment, our patio perched right on the edge of a lake. It was a sweet little first abode for a young couple.
My sister-in-law had just finished school and wanted to make a go of it in our fair city. She moved in with us, camping out on the couch temporarily while she found her footing.
We had great fun during those salad days-memories that still, to this day, make us cry with laughter. For instance, our neighbor, Tic was always a great source of amusement for us. An eccentric, thimble-sized college dude, he hailed from somewhere in Asia, I can't recall where exactly. But, he had brothers back in Asia Land with the names Toc and Tac. He never really quite got it when we'd burst out with, "What happened to Toe! Where's Toe?!"
Tic was intense and sweet and hopelessly in love with my sister-in-law, who was as tiny as him. With her long, curly hair, peaches and cream complexion and a bubbly, captivating personality, he was smitten beyond hope. My sister-in-law tolerated Tic's proclamations of love, letting him down gently by inventing a boyfriend. But, Tic grew suspicious over time when the boyfriend never appeared.
One night, we were all lounging around our cozy family room, watching a movie. The Hubby and I were the first ones of our young circle of friends to own a Betamax machine and we would show off our technological sophistication by renting movies the size of Bibles, impressing our crowd.
My sister-in-law left the room during the movie to nuke up some popcorn and Tic took the opportunity to sweep up a framed photo from the coffee table and thrust it in my face.
"This is him? This is the boyfriend? I can not believe it. I am better than him!" He shook his head sadly as he studied the picture.
It was a classic photo.
We'd been to a festival a few weeks before, a summer party in the city with bands and beer and shirtless folk looking for fun. One of those shirtless folk had spotted us as we stood on the outer edges of a crowd, listening to some washed up band from a decade before. He ambled over to us, all shirtless and hairy with his man-boobs dangling. He had a giant, porn mustache and inexplicably, a parrot on his shoulder, who kept its colorful, feathered body steady as the shirtless wonder danced before us, an open invitation to join in some man-boob fun.
My Hubby gently pushed his sister forward and we hooted and hollered, trying to get her her to boogie down with this gem of a catch. She stood there, cracking up in mortification as Mr. Man-Boob shimmied in what could only be described as a mating dance, circling around her.
My Hubby, of course, snapped away with his camera. And I, of course, framed it, the minute it came home from the photo stand drive-thru.
Always up for torturing Tic, I took the ball and ran. I sighed and explained to Tic that, Yes-this pot-bellied dancer in the picture was the love of her life and Yes-he was exactly how my sister-in-law liked her men: hairy, shirtless, in desperate need of a manssiere, a thick, dirty mustache and if they owned a parrot that sat on their shoulder, she'd fall even harder under their shirtless man spell.
Tic was depressed for days, saying to me, "I cannot compete with that? Parrots are just too expensive!"
Until the day he dropped by, bare chested with a drawn on-tattoo of a parrot on his spindly bicep and a wisp of a shadow across his upper lip. He told me later, he'd filled in his boy mustache with some purchased eye liner, bought just for the occasion.
We never told the poor guy the truth as he spent the rest of his next-door neighbor days, shirtless, following my sister-in-law around, flexing his little bicep, making his sad sketched parrot, dance. Tic wandered out of our life along the way, but I often wonder if he ever bought himself that parrot.
There were many times like that in our tiny apartment, the three of us digging up fun, until the one instant where life turned from joy to terror.
I was down in the laundry room on a Sunday afternoon, throwing in a couple of loads, hating that damn laundry even back then.
A man approached me as I was dumping in the clothes, overly friendly with the same kind of cheesy, bad mustache. He stood way too close for safety's sake and leered at me as he asked if I could use any help.
I was young and blonde and my hips had not yet been taken hostage and disfigured permanently by the inhabitance of three different fetuses, and so, what I'm trying to say, was I was used to the unwanted attention of friendly men and I knew how to handle them.
I gave him the cold brush-off, getting out of there mighty quick. I informed My Hubby he'd have to go back for the laundry, silently thanking the Creepy Guy for that little favor.
A little while later, Shirtless Tic knocked on our door with the news that a gator was sunning himself on the bank of our backyard lake. Being tropical folks, a gator was about as exciting as our fat, stray cat stretched out in the sun, so the Hubby and I kept watching the Beta with its fabulous, fuzzy images. My sister-in-law was new to gators. She jumped up and dashed out the back sliding glass door with Tic in tow.
A little while later, Tic ambled back in, depressed with slightly sunburned shoulders, informing us that a pushy, mustached man was trying to claim his beloved's attentions. Curious, I peeked out the sliding glass door to see who my sister-in-law was flirting with now.
There was a small crowd watching the still gator with my sister-in-law, as usual, front and center. There at her side, stood Creepy Guy. My sister-in-law was laughing and talking, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Creepy Guy was snaking his arm around her waist, pulling her close.
I knew I had to save her.
Here's the ironic thing-My sister-in-law was this naive, innocent when it came to creepy men and the ways of the world. She never saw danger in the world. Everyone was a friend. Every moment- a fun adventure.
I, on the other hand, saw danger everywhere I turned. I was and still am, an ardent fan of true crime stories, the more serial killerish, the better. The Hubby always says he had second thoughts about approaching me the first time he laid his eyes upon me, when he noticed the enormous book I was reading: Helter-Skelter, the story of the Charles Manson murders.
In my eyes, everyone is a possible Ted Bundy.
Now here's the ironic part: I'm not allowed to reveal my sister-in-law's occupation, but I will say, she lost her naivete' when she chose a career path where she is required to wear weapons at all times because she hunts down scary gangsters of the Columbia Cartel, terrorists that crash planes into buildings and all the other vermin of the Earth.
She is officially a Bad-Ass. But, back then, she was simply a beautiful, giggly girl who had no idea this dude manhandling her was a potential Ted Bundy.
I yelled to her, calling her by name, which I won't reveal here, since she is an official Bad-Ass who has to keep her Bad-Ass occupation a secret, but for this story we'll call her Layla, cause that's a cool, Bad-Ass kind of name. I yelled, "Layla! Layla! You have a long distance phone call. Your BOYFRIEND is on the phone!"
It was our code of rescue back in those days. She dutifully trotted in and while Tic sulked, I lectured her good and sound, telling her that Creepy Dude had come on to me in the laundry room and she needed to stay inside since he might very well be Ted Bundy's brother.
She laughed me off, but dutifully stayed inside for a full afternoon of Beta watching, Tic's protective bare parrot shoulder around her.
That night, late into the darkness, I woke to her shaking me, hissing in terror, "Someone's trying to break in!"
We both tried to wake up The Hubby, but he was drowning out our pleas of help with his snoring. Filled with adrenalin, I jumped up and rushed to the family room to face the danger. There, sillouhetted by the moonlight, stood a menacing shadow, yanking on our sliding glass door with all its dark, shadowy might. The sliding glass door was shaking violently, threatening to give in to the evil figure in the blackness.
To this day, I am still shocked at what came over me in that instant. I thought, when danger came into my life, I would be brave. I thought it would be automatic to pick up the phone and press the 911 digits that would bring me to rescue. I thought I would be in command. I thought I would know.
A terror so huge and out of control took over my body in that instant, causing me to spin, literally spin in a circle round and round and round, shrieking and screaming in fright, unable to protect or defend our situation; a shrieking, spinning girl, the epitome of a chicken with their head cut off.
This in turn, panicked the Layla sister-in-law to join me in the shrieking and spinning which finally, finally woke up My Hubby. I'm sure it was only a matter of seconds, but the violence of that moment made it feel as if it were hours.
My Hubby came out of his snoring stupor, shouting and charging at the back door. The sound of a man in the house caused the frightening shadow to run away. My Hubby, in complete control, picked up the phone and called the police.
Within seconds, there was a banging at the front door, a pounding as if the person on the other side was not knocking in inquiry, but knocking to bring the door down, to invade our perfect little home of laughter. We women started up our screaming, again while the Hubby stood bravely on the other side of the evil, yelling about guns he didn't have and holes he was going to put through the door. The banging stopped, but a few seconds later, there was a strange, quiet kind of knocking and a voice on the other side, asking for Layla, saying he merely wanted to "spend some time" with Layla. We knew it was Creepy Guy. To make matters even creepier, he hadn't known her name, until I called for her that afternoon, until I gave her away-her name and where she lived.
To make a long story, shorter, the police came. Creepy Guy was apprehended and handcuffed. He had wormed his way into our gated apartments claiming to be friends with a non-existent person in the complex. Intoxicated and belligerent, he told the police, he just wanted to be with his Layla.
Turns out Creepy Guy had a record detailing a frightening, sordid past with several assault charges against women, strangers he'd encountered throughout his life that he only wanted to "spend time with."
I think about that night, sometimes. I think about the awfulness of what could have been, certainly, certainly not helped by my reaction of helpless panic. My Dance of Idiots brought about because of an idiot. I think about the fact that as I spun, I remember knowing that I needed to get myself under control, that my life might depend upon it, but the terror was too strong, overtaking any sense of what I should have done.
I vowed to do better, next time, praying there would never be a next time.
That emergency fell straight into our paths last weekend. The story of idiots to be continued.....
Today's Necessary Download: "Don't Stand So Close To Me" by the kick-ass band of the Punk wave, The Police. Man, those boys were one magnificent band. It's a shame that Stewart Copeland, the Drummer Dude never learned his place, thereby breaking up the band. Just because you start up a band, doesn't make you the star. Just because you start up the band, doesn't make you a better songwriter. Just because you start up the band, doesn't give you the right to have temper tantrums and fist fights because you can't handle the fact that a sexy, talented star in the making named Sting joined the band and blew your egotistical ass away. Suck it up and learn from a certain drummer named Larry Mullen, Jr who started a little band called U2. I think he's just as happy, sitting on his pile of money, behind the spotlight and he can thank the beautiful B Man for that.
"Don't Stand So Close To Me." I teach my girls every day, they have the right to claim that. I tell my girls. I tell my girls, so that they never dance in a circle, but stand strong with fists up, ready to bring down the idiots of the world.