I hope nothing happens. I hope I’m safe. I hope I don’t get hit by a car. I hope I don’t get attacked. Do I have my license? Because if something happens the cops will need to know who I am.
The thoughts that run through my head when I leave the house alone are so ingrained that I’m barely even aware that they’re there.
The vulnerability that I subconsciously feel, and I’m guessing other women feel, came to my attention once I began to imagine what it would be like if I were Andre the Giant. You know, the 7 foot, 4-inch tall, 520-pound now-deceased actor and professional wrestler best known for his role in The Princess Bride. He was also the subject of a skater street art campaign across the east coast throughout the ’90s, and to this day some stop signs and other stuff in Philly still bear the “Andre the Giant has a posse” stickers. (Doesn’t he look like NJ Governor Chris Christie in the photo above?)
Anyway, if I were Andre the Giant, I doubt I’d worry about my physical safety when I left the house alone. People would probably be afraid of me! I’d feel powerful and invincible and confident.
I described this to Mike over the weekend and he suggested I take self-defense or boxing classes at the boxing gym at the end of our block. I do like that idea, but even if I do take classes and I become stronger, I’ll still be puny. A puny woman with some vague muscle definition if viewed in the proper light. There’s no way I’d ever become a massive, strong, tall, powerful human being no matter what I do.
But, even though I can barely carry a bag of groceries from the car to the house, last night I was reminded to appreciate myself for who I am, feeble limbs and all.
Around 8 p.m., Mike, Sassy and I went out back because we smelled smoke and thought something was on fire in the alley. And, the back door closed behind us and locked. The front door was also locked, as were the front and back windows. Fuck. We had nothing on us, no cell phones, no wallets, not even any shoes. (We never found the source of the smoke, by the way.)
I said we could walk to my nephew’s house about eight blocks away and get our spare key from him, but that’s pretty far to walk while barefoot on filthy sidewalks after dark.
Then Mike saw that the basement windows were open. He managed to slide the screen over, giving us access to the house — if one of us could manage to squeeze through.
We have a rowhouse and so the basement windows are nearly level with the sidewalk out front. We stood out there and looked at the window opening.
“Do you think you can fit in there?” he asked doubtfully.
“Yeah, I can, I’ll make it work,” I said. I had to! There were no other viable options.
I sat down on the sidewalk and scooted forward so my legs were in the window, resting on a tiny shelf beneath it. I had nothing to stand on — there are built-in shelves under the windows but I couldn’t feel them or see them. My hips were a little too wide to make it through without twisting on my side, so I did that, and became a contorted pretzel squirming to find some footing so I could pull the rest of me in. I wondered if anyone was watching and if we’d be pegged as burglars.
Finally my foot reached the top of a small flat-screen computer monitor on a table next to the shelves and I didn’t want to use it, but I had no choice. I put my weight on it and, grasping the windowsill, untwisted myself, then jumped down onto the floor of the basement.
“I’m in!” I called and I ran upstairs to let Mike inside.
For once in my life, my puny size actually saved the day. Imagine that. Rather than the one needing help, I was the helper! I was the hero for like five minutes!
Andre the Giant would’ve been screwed.