My friends are strange people. Caring, but strange.
Yesterday was my birthday. At work, my desk was decorated with ribbons and crepe paper and a big Happy Birthday sign. They got me two bundt cakes, chocolate and key lime, some co-workers took me out to lunch, and I got one very thoughtful gift: a book about the fan side of the Buffyverse called “Will the Vampire People Please Leave the Lobby?“. I also got a few emails and Facebook messages and even a couple of real live phone calls. It was pretty swell.
However, I also got assorted weaponry. I didn’t know that 31 is traditionally the Sharp Blade birthday for a single woman; I thought it might be Velvet or Corelle or Good Vibrations. But no, I got supplies that could to take down a large troll, an orc, (my friends are still geeks, even if they do pretend to know their way around the hunting and fishing aisles) or maybe even a creepy guy on the train, which was actually their hope.
A couple of weeks earlier I noticed a strange man following me from the stop where I get on the train after work to where I get off. And onto the platform. And down the stairs. And through the turnstile, pushing his way ahead of old ladies and Boy Scouts if need be to keep me in his sights. I would hang back though and make him get ahead of me before going anywhere near the parking lot. When he started waiting across the street for me, I talked to the police.
A few days later, attempting to throw him off my trail, I boarded the wrong train, took it halfway to my destination then got off to transfer to the correct train. Imagine my surprise when he got off the same wrong train, walked up to me and asked, grinning, “Are we taking a detour today?”
That was the second time the police got involved, but my friends and coworkers got involved too, checking in with me to make sure I always have someone to ride the train with, to offer me a ride to or from the station, and offering to play bodyguard. My boss, not a very large or intimidating woman, even took to being a human shield, trying to block me from view as I got on the train. It was sweet, if not very effective.
So while most people give birthday gifts like earrings or DVDs or Jason Mraz tshirts, my friends gave me a knife that would be great for gutting a large trout if the stalker thing doesn’t work out, a camera phone (for getting pictures of this goon), and pepper spray that has a radius of 12 feet. That’s one impressive nozzle. All I need now is a utility belt and I can safely patrol the streets at night for ruffians. I’ve never really been into belts though. I think they make me look hippy.
I’m not sure how much use I’ll get out of these things. I think there’s a better chance of me blinding myself and cutting my pinky finger off (and getting a picture of it) than of doing damage to anyone else, but it doesn’t matter. What I really got for my birthday was the assurance that my friends care, that they’re concerned, that they’re willing to track a bear of a guy into a parking lot, get in his face, and tell him to back the hell off, even when the creep starts to scream and swear and take his jacket off like he’s about to do some serious damage and shouts threats and the police have to be called again and I really thought Justin was going to get broken in half but thank goodness he walked away unscathed, and also swaggering a bit.
There’s no Jason Mraz song about scary guys on trains, so I’ll stick to the old standby. I’m not going to worry my life away. I have friends to do that for me. 🙂
Flamenco from 12 feet,