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Davis, California

Friday, April 12, 2024

Column: On Flashers

When I was 10, my primary definition for the word “flash” was the Pokémon technique used to blind an opponent or light up a cave. By the next year, I was more inclined to think of my newly-learned definition — a (typically male) pants-dropping or coat-opening technique used to lewdly reveal oneself in public.

And then, five months ago, at 11 p.m. outside of the Gap in the Davis Commons, it happened to me.

No, not the former flash — Pokémon aren’t real (still bummed about that one). The latter, in all its crime-logged, high-school-hallway-whispered, true-urban-legend glory. A public penis.

A friend and I were merely trying to enjoy our Thursday night, stuff strewn across several chairs in the Commons, having a very pleasant conversation about dating and sexuality, when a strange guy decided to interrupt us. With his penis.

He had been stretching against the wall a few stores down, wearing a plain white T-shirt and curiously tight running pants. After observing the pants, I thought nothing more of his presence until I looked up and saw him, pants riding about 6 inches lower on his hips, brandishing his erection in our direction while attempting to make an intense level of eye contact with us that could only be described as “Edward Cullenesque.”

I paused in our conversation only to let out an irate “Oh HELL no!”, subsequently followed by a “Put that thing back in your fucking pants before I call the cops on your ass.”

He turned the corner at a slow pace, strolling away cockily (pun intended) as my eyes burned holes into his white T-shirt and ridiculously tight running pants.

After he disappeared into the dim-lit shelter of the bike path, I let out a few more choice curse words and shook my head a bit, pissed off but mostly unshaken, intending to let the incident pass. I couldn’t say the same for my friend.

She took a nervous drag of her cigarette, stubbed it out on the table, and proclaimed, “I feel sick.”

It soon dawned on me that although I wasn’t affected too much by this encounter, my flashee-in-arms most certainly was. She told me she felt angry, worried and unsafe.

So I called the cops on his ass.

As the new opinion editor of The California Aggie, I promise to treat every contentious article or event that presents itself to me as if it has whipped its dick out in public. I will get pissed off, I will lecture, and if it specifically targets a person or group of people so as to make them feel unsafe, I will shut that shit down.

At the same time, I will hold no tongues, mine or otherwise. I want dialogue and discussion, not diatribes and suppression.

I will create soapboxes instead of silences. I will try my hardest to get everyone’s voice heard.

I may or may not run frantically around the Quad once a quarter asking people for their opinions, and then for permission to publish them.

I will also not hold back belly laughs, bad puns and “That’s what she said” jokes (or “That’s what he/ze/they said” jokes. Women aren’t the only ones who “want you to put it in”).

But this desk isn’t about me, the juvenile humor in my hands and the dicks in my public presence. It’s about you: the reader, the writer and the community member. It’s about the columnists, the guest columnists, the cartoonists and the avid practitioners of letters to the editor.

The school newspaper is one of the greatest tools that a student can wield, and The Aggie is no less than Excalibur. It’s just waiting for the right warrior to wield it.

So apply to be a writer at the opinion desk (or any other, for that matter), have 911 on speed dial in case of strange men stretching at midnight outside of the Gap, and don’t hold back.

Tell TANYA AZARI what you think (about anything) by flagging her down during her frenzy in the Quad, or at opinion@theaggie.org.

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