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Tommy, we hardly knew ye.

Originally from: FayettEVILle
Currently residing in: Gibsonton, Florida
I've been on arkansasrockers since the beginning of time.
Last updated on May 1, 2018 at 2:36AM

In General


"Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death–ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return."

-James Baldwin (The very best Baldwin brother)



Thanks, friends. 


It was just weird. I keep thinking about all the ways it would have been different if I was a man. Good and bad: less fear of rape/murder, but more deeply-ingrained fear around appearing “weak” in exchange for taking steps to ensure my own physical safety. Out-dated gender roles are still screwing with rational reactions to blatant threats. And also, psycho-killers are just fucking scary. Let’s all try to avoid them, k? 


Sorry about that guy’s neighbor, Justin. It must feel extra crazy when your intuition is proven in such a dark, tragic way. Damn. 







The original echo chamber was just writing to yourself, but then sharing it with a few old buddies.


I ran across a psychopath last night. Law of averages says it has probably happened before in my lifetime, but last night I was fully aware. I got on the bus, glanced around at my fellow passengers, and noticed that one very generic white guy seemed to be glaring at me. I immediately averted my eyes. While staring at the ground or off in the distance, I could still feel his laser-beam. I tried to talk myself out of caring; I told myself I was being overly-sensitive because of the headlines about that serial killer finally getting caught—I was probably just spooked by the gory news. 


After glancing back twice more to verify (over a five-minute period), I started thinking about the male gaze, and how this is the 21stcentury, and he has no fucking right to make me feel vulnerable with a stupid, constant leer (ESPECIALLY since I was following all the social norms and wearing shapeless, full-coverage, anti-sexual clothing, so nobody would get ‘misled’ into thinking I might be ‘asking for it’—sheesh). So, I finally shot him back a what-the-fuck-is-your-problem-mean-mug, and he just curled his lip and slowly, coldly, extended his middle finger, without even blinking. His whole demeanor was straight out of a horror movie. With adequately chilled blood, I rolled my eyes, got up, and stood next to the bus-driver for the rest of the ride home. 


She was the only other female for the whole trip (last ride of the night, around 11:45, few other passengers through a dark, residential area). We started chatting in hushed tones, while instinctively making jokes and laughing to let him know we weren’t really concerned by his brand of crazy. She could see in her mirror that he was still boring holes in the back of my head with his glare. Plan A was for me to get off early, as a psyche-out, and if he followed I’d jump back on and we’d drive off without him, but then I thought we were over-reacting. If he didn’t get off after me, then I’d be partially stranded, or our hand would be blown if I had to get back on. 


She finally decided that she would stop the bus early, around the corner from my house (since it was the last pass, and I’m one of the last stops, it wouldn’t screw anyone else over), and give me time to run around to my door, out of sight of the threat. If he followed, she would too. 


So we went with Plan B, but as we got closer I realized that if he didn’t try to follow me, she only had two more stops until he was most likely alone with her. The last stop is around a short loop, so it’s actually right outside my building’s backdoor, just down five flights. I told her I would run inside, grab a baseball bat and Tim, with 911 on speed-dial, and if he gave her any shit, she could just honk and I would run down to help, with the cavalry on the line. It was the weirdest sort of adrenaline, because it was so foreign, and I kept questioning my instincts (and hers). I haven’t feared for myself or another lady in that way for a really long time. 


When I got inside I gave Tim a quick run-down, and while he was putting on his shoes, I poked my head over our balcony, bat in hand, phone in pocket, listening like a goddamned night-owl for sounds of a scuffle on the bus parked below. I’ve lived in cities for the majority of my adult life, and this wasn’t any run-of-the-mill crazy guy. He had such intensely evil energy, I was preparing myself for a serious emergency. Tim came out, and we heard her and another passenger (luckily, she wasn’t left alone) arguing with the crazy guy. After a while, they cussed him down the street, and we watched him kick the air in their direction, like some kid from the 50s who was mad about losing at baseball…totally frustrated by his sudden lack of power.


So for the past 24 hours, I’ve been thinking a lot about power dynamics. I try to remain blissfully unaware of all that crap, because constant evaluation and posturing seems like an exhausting way to live. My brain isn’t wired for that type of chess. But when a stranger exerts control over my psychological or physical safety, I would like to know how to react in the most effective way. After we both calmed down, Tim said I should have just gotten off and taken a taxi or a lyft home, but I pointed out that those rides go sideways for women too…then he just solemnly said, “I hate it that it’s still scary to be a female.” 


I’m pretty angry and confused about the whole interaction. I usually feel safe in public. I’m confident that most humans will protect each other against random acts of violence (which really, is exactly what happened, with the bus driver and the other passenger getting defensive). It’s weird that something so inconsequential (nothing really happened), could give me any sort of emotional scar, however temporary. It’s just that his body language conveyed intense anger, yet he was completely sober and calm. It was truly psychotic. The weirdest part is that I can’t even remember a good description of the asshole. I was so thrown off-balance by having to carefully consider my next moves, all I can say is he was just average, white, fratty, with brown hair, murder eyes and no soul. 


Considering my fear from last night, I kind of wish I had just challenged him harder from the start—maybe a loud, angry, “What the fuck YOU lookin’ at?!” would have shut him down…but then again maybe it would have just set him off into a violent rage. I imagine that’s the sort of outcome-weighing that men go through whenever they come across those same aggressive types in public, even though the fear of bodily harm is slightly different. 


It’s absolutely true that it’s scary to be a female, but at the very least, I am socially allowed after the fact, to fully process my threatening encounters with strange men, and vent about it on the internet (or in person, if I feel like bending an interested ear). Dudes still don’t have that “luxury.” With all the leaps and bounds being made in gender studies, I hope more men (and everyone on the spectrum) will become comfortable exploring their emotions around power dynamics. Admissions of vulnerability are just statements of fact, and if you didn’t get assaulted by the lunatic, then you probably did the exact lucky/right thing. It is terrifying and humbling to have those near-misses, and everyone should let themselves acknowledge it. Social advances be damned—we are all still living in a nature show, but at least it isn’t a zombie movie.


And now, I’m gonna revisit the “Art of War,” in lieu of going to a self-defense class, because I’m still not ready to live with the idea that I look like prey to certain maniacs. Just gotta work on my posturing…? 


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