God, I love my parents for always trying to keep me safe. There’s really nothing that says “I love you, baby girl” like sending your daughter pepper spray in the mail (which I never curiously decided to play with and misfired) or forcing her to watch a “Too Smart for Strangers” video 238,947 times by the age of seven. I grew up next door to the elementary school I attended and was never allowed to walk home alone, even after I swore to take my little keychain harmonica to use as a whistle. But hey, I recognize that it was all for my own good.
Though my parents may hate each other, they clearly don’t want me getting hacked up and dumped in the woods or waking up in a bathtub full of ice without a vital organ or being used by a villain as bait for my superhero boyfriend. And now that I’m in college, I really think I can appreciate that.
Sure, I probably talk to strangers a little more than I should, and I really do like candy, but that does not make me a target for kidnapping. In fact, I think that my mother’s fear of being lured into the back of some creepy old-school Volkswagen van for a bag of Pop Rocks is just a little out there. Mmm, Pop Rocks. I can distinguish the differences between good and bad for myself. Unlike my mother, the little hobophobe that she is, I have simply learned that muttering homeless folk aren’t bad.
I should mention that it’s not only my parents who have taken the pains to teach me about the importance of defensive awareness. I’m lucky to have had special teachers, like one in particular from high school. We’ll call him Mr. Jones. Gym teachers are notably notable (I particularly love it when they trail running students with a golf cart and a megaphone), and he was no exception. He was middle-aged, not in the best shape, smoked a pack of cigs a day and claimed to be like a seventh-degree black belt. Anyway, given this description, it’s no real surprise that he used to hide in the bushes and jump out at us when we girls were running the mile in P.E. class. This was so that we would learn to be alert should a sexual predator emerge from a secret hiding spot and attack us while we were out for a walk. Now there’s a man who truly scared because he cared. He also taught us how to dislodge an eyeball if we ever find ourselves in a situation where that needs to be done.
I’ve been pretty good about taking care of my personal safety in college. Sure, some dude pulled me into his bedroom once when I was on my way to the bathroom at a party and probably had it ingrained into his mind that I wanted him, but I showed him by pretending to pass out till he went away! Kinda like a gazelle on the Serengeti. And no worries: had that not worked out, I would have been fully prepared to flip a bitch and go all Judo Barbie on him.
It’s nice to know that there are people looking out for me just in case my own competency in that department fails. I’m trying to be more careful, honest. My roommates and I even lock our apartment door sometimes. And I’ve made a personal pledge to try and remember to bring said pepper spray with me at least 10 percent of the time I go out at night.
But should I forget to take the necessary safety precautions, I suppose I’ll have to rely on the general goodness of mankind. Case in point: this past weekend, when I woke up on a couch in West Davis and stumbled out into the cold 2 a.m. night, dressed kinda like a rodeo clown’s girlfriend. Luckily I was able to barter a ride home from some out-of-town girls who were looking for the nearest Jack in the Box. If only I’d had money for French toast sticks.
MICHELLE RICK is looking to buy massive amounts of watermelon Pop Rocks. If you know where she can get this taken care of, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.