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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

« Today, so far. | Main | Ah, the unique horror of the awkward confrontation. »

Dear city: I chose you over the suburbs, and this is what I get?


First of all: I’m all right. I’m all right! No one panic!

That said, here’s what just happened. Oh, my! The adrenaline! The freaking out! But I’m all right. Stop panicking. You must.

I was returning from Manhattan, back from my Day of Freedom—I was having lunch with my friend while my son made Play-Doh pies with my mother-in-law or whatever it is they do when I’m not around. (And she loves it! Everyone wins in this deal.)

Sitting on the stoop of the building next door was a gaunt, toothless man commenting on every woman walking by. I thought, Ah, I’m home, where the crazy people believe in the possibility of love. He muttered at me and sucked at his teeth. Well, his tooth. And I disregarded him, as I do all the crazies, and walked to my door, and opened it.

I turned to close the door. And there he was. He pushed the door in, knocking me back a little. We were about an inch apart in the tiny vestibule between the outside door and the inside door. He was staring at me.

And then, dear readers, I went apeshit.

Well, as much as I am able to, which is in reality not very much. Just as he began to inform me that he “just had a question,” (Oh! A question, dear sir? Well, come right on in!) I shouted “Get out get out get OUT!” and I shoved at his scrawny little chest with all my might and he stumbled out the door. And then took off.

Once my violently trembling hands managed to get my keys to open the door, I called 911, gave them a startlingly vivid description of the guy, and a few minutes later the police came to my door with—the guy! And oh, how we had a reunion. The police said, “Is this the guy?” and I said, “Indeed,” and the guy looked all sullen, like now he was going to get detention on account of me, and then I gave the police all the details of the (brief) event, and then I watched them from inside as they stood on the sidewalk and berated him. The guy was waving his arms all around, and I was trying to figure out how he was defending himself. “I was lonely, see? And I knew she wasn’t going to invite me in. Even after I sucked at my tooth for her! What choice did I have?”

Alarmingly, they then proceeded to let him go. Thanks, NYPD! I called the precinct, and the guy who answered the phone said, “Well, I’m sure they didn’t just let him go. Who are you going to believe, little lady? Me or your lying eyes?

Meanwhile, I’m okay! I’m fine! Except I will never leave my house again. So I’ll be posting more frequently, albeit with less interesting content.

Reader Comments (42)

Very scary indeed. I'd still be shaking. Cities are exciting, aren't they? This morning while walking my dog (in Chicago), a man asked me for change. When I said, "No, I'm sorry," he berated me: "Real nice. You probably make $30,000 a year. Thanks a lot." (??) "Um, I don't carry my wallet with me when I walk my dog," I replied tartly. Usually I'm polite to homeless people, but it was 6:50 a.m. and already hot out. "Well you should!" he shot back. "Why??!" "Well... you just... should always have your wallet on you!" Then we parted ways. You just never know what'll happen when you open the door (or, in your case, try to close it).
July 26, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
Peter makes a good point. Probably they just gave him a summons for trespassing, but couldn't they have, um, told me that? Instead of just driving away as the guy stumbled down the street?
July 26, 2005 | Unregistered Commenteralice
Re: pepper spray/foghorn/big scary's another idea...

I moved to DC after college in a small southern town and growing up in a small western farm town. I lived alone...worked late...and was scared to death of the city. So I started carrying a big Maglite flashlight when I went home after dark, the kind you see the cops carry. It was great - a visible deterrent (like the dog, but easier to take on the subway ;-), and an effective legal weapon (no permit required). Never had to use it, thank God.
July 26, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterCAL
geez, that totally sucks. i hate that, right in your house... that's the worst!

i live around the corner from you, i now realize. i thought i saw you once on the corner walking your dog (and recognized you from the rosemary's baby haircut pics), and considered saying hello, but then reconsidered... didn't know what on earth i would say after that.

thanks for posting this. i think going apeshit is the best defense.... have to remember that or hope it comes instinctually if ever there is a need.
July 26, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterrita
Yikes! How creepy!

So glad you wigged out on him and are okay.

July 26, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterjody2ms
Hm. When I lived in Bushwick (Yes! Bushwick! All five feet and one inch of me living in Bushwick!) I carried pepper spray... It was my understanding that Mace was illegal but that a pepper spray deterrant was not. (this was several years ago, and I was slightly more concerned about my bodily safety than breaking a law by carrying pepper spray.) Also, reasons for those pointy-toed hipster shoes are becoming clearer to me, as I imagine they'd make one hell of an impact when you kick a deranged lunatic in the balls.Glad you and yours are okay.
July 26, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterkim
Holy Crap!
July 26, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterTorrie
I'm cracking up over Peter's catch and release program. Maybe they could band his dirty little ankle and release him in another city? I know that would me feel a whole lot safer. Take care! Maybe Henry should start taking karate lessons. He could unleash his toddler kickassedness on what ever unlucky deranged lunatic that makes the unfortunate decision to get within a foot of his beloved mom.
July 26, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterDuckie
Ditto on the big dog idea. As one who has had more than her fair share of scary NYC encounters, I'd say you are handling this rather well.

I love how NYC makes it illegal to carry anything that could help you defend yourself from wackos.

July 26, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterliz
I'm sorry to hear about your new fear. I was chased home by a man about eight years ago, and he stood on the corner and laughed while I fumbled with my keys at my door. Yikes.

As a result of your incident, though, we all get to read more of you! You get to hide from your fear, and we get more finslippy. We both win!

But seriously, yes, I feel for you. I've had that crazy adrenaline rush. Don't let a freak get you down.
July 26, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterschmutzie
That guy deserved a kick in the nuts. How scary.
July 26, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSarcastic Journalist
You must carry a large stick with you at all times.
July 26, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
The exact same thing happened to a friend of mine in the East Village a couple of years ago. Can't remember what she did to get him out of the building. Some days New York is so calm, and then some days the crazies just have crazy free-for-all. Personally, I only seemed to get the weirdos when I had people visiting me from out of town.
July 26, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMolly
First of all, thank God you are okay. After the subway story, I don't think my heart can handle the adrenaline rush.

Hey, the suburbs aren't all that great either. In junior high, I was followed home by these two guys who kept chanting "rape, rape, rape" just loud enough for me to hear. Freaked me right the heck out.
July 26, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterDM
My very own (abbreviated) horror story:

The setting: Extreme suburbia, which is really just a euphemism for Bum Fuck Nowhere, VA. Winter. Snow on the ground and, to my dismay, snow falling from the sky.

The story: I was 20 years old, about 2 hours in to a 4-hour road trip, hurling myself northward in a souped up 1978 Buick Skylark, white in color. As previously mentioned, it was snowing, but not hard enough to make me stop driving. Suddenly the driver side windshield wiper just stopped working, which certainly was bad enough to make me stop driving; I pulled over at a little gas station to contemplate a solution.

About then it stopped snowing, so I borrowed a fountain drink cup and the restroom key from the attendant and began making trips from the bathroom to my car, dumping water on the windshield clear off the ice, snow, and road gunk that had accumulated.

I had the door to the restroom propped open so that I wouldn't have to unlock it every time I returned to the sink. After I filled the cup for the last time, I turned around and there, propped in the doorway and mostly filling it, was the ball-capped, redneck sort of stereotype one expects to find 'round these parts. He was standing there, armscrossed, leaning against the door jamb in a very non-threatening sort of way, smiling a smile that said, in clear and perfectEnglish, "Fear not, little girl, I am no threat to you. No! I do not have you trapped in this bathroom, miles from anywhere, snow all around, near a door that will lock from the inside if I decide to stepforward and shut it. Of course if never occurred to me that what is possibly the only key to this door is currently hanging from the back pocket of your jeans, rendered completely useless when it's on thisside of the door." That smile, it was one talkative mo-fo.

Several thoughts shot through my head, very vivid and yet completely ridiculous. They were, in this approximate order:

1. This is the WOMEN'S room, dude.2. Whatever. Is he going to move so I can get out?3. Wait a minute.4. Probably he's just confused, and needs to pee or wants to help or something.5. FUCK THAT, YOU SILLY BITCH; THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO GIVE YOUR FELLOW MAN THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. GET. OUT. NOW.

So, to my own shock and surprise, I kicked him full in the nuts. I imagine he was surprised as well.

He bent forward but fell on his ass, and I jumped over him and ran out the door. My car was running (a seemingly bad decision that turned out OK since there was no way in hell I could have fished keys out of my pocket while I was running that fast), and I hauled ass out of there, pronto, bathroom key still in my back pocket. To this day I have no idea what happened to the cup I had in my hand, but I still have that bathroom key. I was freaked out for weeks, refusing to go tothe bathroom alone or even to drive anywhere by myself in case I had to stop somewhere.

So there. So sorry about the long story, but I thought I would share. It's not the city'sfault and it's for sure not your fault that crazy toothsucker decided to intrude. I'm glad you were able to channel your innerbitch, as hysterical as she was, and repel him so effectively. I'm glad you had the courage to go outside so soon.

Stay safe. We like you.
July 27, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
So you didn't find out what his question was?
July 27, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Julie
Ugh. I'm so sorry this happened to you. I lived in pure unadulterated suburbia when a guy hid in my bushes and jumped me in the breezeway; I was saved only by the piercing volume of my own shrieking and the sheer hysteria that kept me whipping my head around so he couldn't keep his hand over my mouth. That kind of crap in your own home is the worst feeling in the world.

I hope you feel better soon.
July 27, 2005 | Unregistered Commentermercybuttercup

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