A couple weeks ago, I was walking my dog at about ten at night.
When walking the dog, both my mind and feet tend to wander. I meander about until I realize I've been gone awhile, and then head home. La la la. No big.
My neighborhood is perfectly safe, albeit a little odd. Mostly retail and crazy during the day, but totally quiet at night. There are long stretches of limited streetlights and no foot traffic. Deserted, desolate, and words like that.
On this night, I suddenly felt something. Not a feeling. For real. I actually *felt* something against my back directly behind me. I jumped. It was a tall, bulky man wearing a hoodie.
I knew immediately that something was wrong. But what I said was, "Oh! You startled me!"
He mumbled something that I heard as "I'm sorry." I am certain that is not what he said.
Then I laughed and said, "You have a very light tread!"
I KNOW. I totally know.
I bent over to clean up after my dog, fluttering my hands about to make clear that I had no pockets, and only a handful of plastic bags on me, And then I nattered on.
"I don't usually run into folks when I'm just out walking the dog."
"Oh Jem, your leash is all tangled!"
"Blah blah blah."
The man stuck right there with me. In my space, as they say.
Then he suddenly asked, "What kind of dog is that?"
I answered, "Greyhound." And went on to, "She's a handful. I have two more at home with my husband. Our grown sons are home and they like to hang out with them." (Umm, I have no sons, nor any other dogs.)
We stood there for a minute. And then I said, "Well, have a good night." And I strode decisively to my house. And that was that.
I like to think that I am so fucking bad-ass that I handled the shit out of that almost-mugging. But the fact is, telling my would-be robber that he startled me and had a light tread was really me being gracious. Or maybe my dog Jem is a magical protector.
I don't know. It kind of boggles my mind too.