How To Handle A Flasher
Friday, February 7, 2014
Well, hey there Internet! Yes, it's really me! I thought I'd peek into this world wide web here and make sure all is right in your world since I've been gone for like a million years or two months or whatever.

My world? Well, it's all been uphill since I found out I do not have cancer. Just a clean horizontal slice of a scar on my boob, a reminder that life is this fragile, ever-shifting, dazzling thing. 

And even though I should have known this all along, there's a newfound delight in that realization. And it fills me up every morning, when through my haze of waking, I think, yay! I have today and tomorrow and tomorrow and all of these ever afters to drink coffee and pet dogs' wiggly bodies and listen to my girl's stories and kiss my husband and judge people harshly while driving and just live like it's champagne and strawberries, 24/7. 

Although, that might not be the best example. Too much champagne makes me bloated and headachy and if I eat too many strawberries, I get mouth ulcers. 

But you get the point. Hopefully.

Anyway, I wish for all of you this very same kind of delight. And also lots of fancy new shoes.

So, in honor of the wonderful days I have been given, I thought I'd tell you about an encounter I had recently. It has taken me a while to talk about it because, well, it was just so . . .  


Like, really, really bad. I'm talking crazy-ass bad. 

And yes, I know I tend to be dramatic. At life. And in general. 

And I know when I say something's really bad, most everyone will be rolling their eyes and saying, "Okay, like the time your coffeemaker stopped working because it needed to be descaled and you didn't know how to do that and your husband, the descaler, was out of town for 2 weeks and so, for 2 weeks you had to go to the gas station to get your coffee because going to Starbucks means you would have to make a u-turn on a busy highway and that's too much pressure to take before coffee, so you had to settle for gas station coffee for two weeks—that kind of bad?"**

**This is actually a true story. And yes, it was bad. But not anywhere near the caliber of bad I'm about to rain down on you.  

So here goes, as I wince and tell the story from between my fingers.

A few months ago, my daughter, the only one left at home—who is now lucky enough to be the sole recipient of my machine-gun-barrage of questions as soon she comes home from school since the only social contact I have on most days is the UPS man and the three dogs—that long-suffering girl asked me to take her to the store because she wanted to bake a cake. 

I had just worked out, so I told her I'd drive her up there but I was going to stay in the car because I was gross-out sweaty. (Okay, so maybe I wasn't dripping in sweat. Maybe I laid on the floor and did a light Pilates workout while watching Breaking Bad and when I mean light, I mean I didn't even bother with a workout bra. But I needed some kind of story to justify watching Breaking Bad all day. Besides, I really didn't feel like going into the store since that would require putting on a bra, which—hello—way too much effort.)

So off we went to the store. I dropped her at the entrance and parked. 

I sat in my car, reading some Jonathan Franzen or maybe I was scrolling through my Instagram, (I can't really remember), when a pickup truck parked next to me. 

My car is low to the ground, so the pickup occupant had a good view of the inside of my car. 

And view he did. 

I immediately sensed someone staring and I looked up to see a man leering at me from the truck.

Now when I say man, I mean the poster child of Perv. Everything that would make the hair on the back of your neck stick up because a serial killer was parked next to you, sizing you up to see if you would make a good skin suit, was this guy. Big unfashionable creeper glasses, baseball hat scrunched down low on his head and a gross, gross, grosser than an old man in bicycle pants, pornstache—walrus-like and furry. 

I shot him a dirty look because I am adept at the F**ck You look when it comes to leering creepers. (I guess I have a type.) And then I moved my seat back in an effort to block his view and went back to my big Franzen novel. Or Instagram. 

He sat in his truck for what seemed like forever just full-on staring at me. (I could still see part of his serial killer leering face after I moved my seat.) So I tried to ignore him, but it was hard to concentrate on the prose, Filtered photos, as his eyes bore into me. 

Finally, after what seemed like hours, he apparently grew tired of trying to bore his way into my poser workout clothes with his overly magnified eyeballs. He got out of his truck and made his way into the store.

I was relieved. Surely, my daughter would be out soon. She was only going in to buy cake ingredients, but then again, she did have my debit card which she thinks is a magic card that allows her to get all the free makeup her teenage heart desires.

Unfortunately, Perv Man was back before I could check the sexual predator database on my phone. 

He had no shopping bags probably because they were out of Jeffrey Dahmer eyewear. I pretended not to notice him, keeping my head down as he got in his truck. But as the minutes ticked by, he didn't leave and I could feel his heavy stare upon me, like hot breath against my neck. 

Infuriated, I gave him a quick sideways sneer and that's when I realized he wasn't sitting in his truck the right way. 

He was sitting in his truck sideways. 

Facing me. 

With the door open just enough that if I craned my head forward, I knew I was sure to see something that would haunt every corner of my very small brain for the rest of my days.

He just sat there in that flasher position, his body angled toward me, his truck door open just enough for me to see whatever he had going on there in Perv world. 

I was panicked. Scared. Sick. I felt like I had been draped in a blanket of Ick. 

I was on the verge of tears, with my hand on the gear shift ready to back squealing, out of my spot and race far, far away from this vile, twisted creature. (I'm not very good at backing up, but I figured my fight or flight response would kick in and make me drive like that racecar girl who does the Go Daddy commercials.) 

And then suddenly it hit me. That was exactly what he wanted me to do. Flashers get off on terrified reactions. 

Don't they? 

Actually, I have no idea what flashers get off on nor do I ever want to know, but what I did know was I refused to allow this sicko and his twisted act turn me into a blubbering mess of fear and panic.

So, even though my heart was racing, I decided to stand my ground. 

Eff him. I was going to be strong. 

I was going to stare him full in the face, give him an indignant smirk as if to say, "Really? You shouldn't even bother showing off that pitiful thing." And then pull away slowly, making a big show of snapping a picture of his license plate. Then, I would park safely away from this asshat and immediately report him to my grocery store and the police. 

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar—Perverts of grocery store parking lots. 

But before I could put my empowering plan into action, the perv did something that froze my heart and froze me, like, seriously. I could not move, because . . . 

He started moving. 

As in sitting in place, his head down as his body rocked in a back and forth action. 

A jerking action.

As in, something was getting wanked. 

For my viewing horror. 

I wanted to scream. I thought I was having a heart attack. I was breathing, hyperventilating really, in squeaky little gasps. I couldn't believe this was happening to me in the middle of the day in my very nice suburban grocery store parking lot. I couldn't lean forward and look. It was bad enough that I was the victim of a wanking predator, I didn't want to carry the image of that horror around for the rest of my scarred life. 

And then it hit me. 

My daughter. 

Who would be coming out of the store at any moment. 

Who just wanted to bake a cake. 

Who was 15 years old and didn't deserve this sort of wretchedness. 

And my panic did a 360 as the mother bear inside me roared to life. 

Forget, I Am Woman. 

I Am Mama, you punk-ass bitch and you WILL hear me roar. 

I picked up my phone and with shaky hands, hit the button that rolled down the passenger side window.

I held up the phone, trembling so badly, the phone threatened to slip out of my tenuous grasp and yelled fiercely, 


*I did not have his license plate, but I figured I'd snap a quick pic as I squealed out of there while calling 911. Multi-tasking, my friends. It's the key to getting things done. 

Now here's the thing. . . 

I figured Mr. Jack Off would panic, zip up his fly, hopefully catching his perv parts in the process and haul ass out of there. 

But instead he stopped wanking, looked up at me, his googly eyes blinking through his thick lenses and just stared at me as if I had three heads. 

I know, right? Some nerve. 

And then?

He looked to the right and to the left and then behind him, as if, as if he were trying to figure out who the hell this crazy lady was yelling at. 

And it was then, this one thought, like a nuclear bomb, went off in my brain. 

It occurred to me that perhaps I should lean forward and check out that, in fact, he was actually wanking off instead of assuming he was wanking off. 

Since we all know what happens when you assume.  

So, I promptly leaned forward, certain I was guaranteeing myself years of therapy from what horrors I was about to view. 

But instead?

I saw Lotto scratch-off tickets. 

Three of them. Neatly spread out across his thighs. 

He'd been scratching off. 

Not jerking off. 

And because I am never quite content to be just a regular moron, I doubled up on my moron-ness and decided in my panic to pretend I was talking to someone else. 

Yes. Yes I did. 

I pointed emphatically at some vague spot behind this poor man and said, "That's right. I'm talking to you."

And pretended to take a picture of some other Wanking Pervert behind him. 

I then tossed my phone onto the passenger seat, threw my car into reverse and high-tailed it out of there, away to the other side of the parking lot before he could get my license plate. I found a parking spot behind a big construction dumpster and texted my daughter, telling her to call me when she was through and to meet me at the farthest exit of the store. 

I was still shaking when she came out of the store. 

She got in the car and took one look at me and said, "Mom, what's wrong?" 

And as lightly as possible, since 15-year-olds should be spared the details of their mother's total jackass-ness, much less stories about bogus wanking, I told her that I kinda accused an innocent man of flashing me. 

She didn't even hesitate. She said, "Eew Mom. You are so gross."

Oh, my darling daughter, gross doesn't even begin to cover what I am. 

Today's Definite Download:  So much beautiful music has been made since we've spoken last. I want to share it all, but for today, I'll give you just this one treat. 

A few years ago, the bands Mumford and Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros decided to get together for a six city tour on a vintage train, starting from California and ending in New Orleans. 

They made a documentary of this fantastic event, The Big Easy Express, and it's on Showtime right now. If you're into music, you should watch this. It's such a celebration of music and the people who spend their lives making that music. 

It made me very happy. 

And one of the biggest reasons for my happiness was Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros. I know. You're probably saying, "Who?"

The Zeros are an indie group with a whole lot of people in their band. Their music is rollicking and quirky, sometimes joyous, sometimes sadly beautiful but always incredible. Their most commercial song is called, "Home." You might know it. Here's a link. 

Alex Ebert (Edward Sharpe) is the lead singer. You might have seen him on the Golden Globes, the really tall hot hipster with the man bun who won a Globe for best movie score and talked about meeting Diddy on a yacht in St. Bart's. Now, that's rock and roll talking right there. 

On the Big Easy Tour, the three bands would end each concert, joining together to sing the old gospel song, "This Train Is Bound For Glory." And when I say sing, I mean they Put. It. Down. 

If you want to be happy, watch this compilation of their finales. If you don't want to be happy, go right now to the theater and buy yourself a ticket for that Meryl Streep/Julia Roberts movie. 

Good Freaking Night, that thing was darker than a cave with hurricane shutters. You think you're going in to see a dark COMEDY, because the trailer is quite misleading and you leave there limping and muttering, "Nothing will ever be good again." Like, it was layer upon layer upon layer upon layer of bad. Like not even the Kennedy's have this much bad shit happen to them in one sitting. 

I advise this big, messy, rollicking performance instead. Alex Ebert is the tall one who's dancing around like an old time preacher at a revival show. Enjoy. I'll see you soon. 


Tracie Nall said...

It always makes me happy when I see your name pop up in my blog reader.


He was a scratcher. Not a wanker.

I'm dying laughing over here.

Mama D said...

I LOVE reading your posts! You absolutely make my day, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. :)

Rebecca Grace said...

OH. MY. !!!!!!!

You had me ROARING with laughter when you said he was only scratching off lotto tickets! Your writing is so vivid, it's like I can see this poor sap with his dazed and confused look on his face.

Thanks for sharing. :-)

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Hey! Nice to see you're back and still causing trouble!

Meg at the Members Lounge said...

You had me reeled in on the edge of my seat... and of course, I started howling with laughter! You weave a very good tale, Joann!

Kate Geisen said...

Freaking hilarious. You make me smile (or laugh out loud) every time you write.

And I'm super glad all is ok with your boobies. :)

Shell said...

Ohmygoodness. I can so see me jumping to that conclusion, too!

I have missed you! xo

Gigi said...

I am DYING over here!!!

Glad to hear your boobs are fine. Just got word yesterday that mine are too (thank you for making me go!).

And YES, that movie WAS dark and I totally wasn't expecting it to go like that!

Chicken said...

Oh it is so good to see you back. And also, you are a very quick thinker. "No, not YOU, that other guy behind you, yeah, him!" Well done, you.

Paula said...

Scratching off. Not jerking off.


Angie@mamainsomnia said...

The whole time I just pictured the whole thing, a la' silent security footage style.
Glad to see your posts again.

Art Chick said...

Nothing like a little premature accusation to get your day going, eh, Joann?! But in all fairness, he COULD have been a perv. It could so easily have gone that way. Thank heavens it wasn't though. And this is the stuff that great blog posts are made of, so it was a win in my book. :) Take care!

julie gardner said...

I blame Jonathan Franzen.

(Okay. Not really. I love him. And you.)

Glad it was a false alarm.
And I hope that poor guy won the lotto.

JoAnna said...

You know my favorite part is that you kept yelling at a make believe man behind him so as to not lose face. As always, hysterical and so entertaining to read!!

JoAnna said...

I just read this out liud to kster becuase it was so good and he knew as soon as the guy looked up in confusion that he was scratching tickets. My sister thinks I would do just what you did and keep yelling at an invisible stranger to save face. Your stories are always even funnier a couple of days after I read them.

My Inner Chick said...

Where have you been?

People need a good laugh around here, man!

why don't ya stick around for a while?


My Inner Chick said...

Where have you been?

People need a good laugh around here, man!

why don't ya stick around for a while?


Baby Sister said...

Lol!! I needed a good laugh, so thank you for sharing this marvelous story. I'm just glad it wasn't what you thought it was. How awful that would be!!

Meg at the Members Lounge said...

I will never be able to play the lottery without thinking of this story. A cautionary tale; wait till you get home to scratch off.

Laynah said...

Oh I just love the sentence "a reminder that life is this fragile, ever-shifting, dazzling thing" - just beautiful! So glad it turned out well for you!

And OH MY GOSH about the story! I cant even - you had me on the edge of my seat! Hahahaha I am laughing so hard. You are a fantastic story-teller also

Judie said...

I wonder how much money he won off those scratchers. Was it enough to make him forget about the crazy lady in the parking lot??? I think not! Hahahahaahahaha!!!!

karen said...

It's June 4th and I'm just now reading this. Oh boy, I needed a good laugh today! I don't know if funny things just happen to you or if you've just got the talent to make the mundane things hilarious. Probably both. Whatever. Write more.

Unknown said...

I absolutely loved this post! I had a blast with it! You are an amazing writer! I am looking forward to your next post entry!

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