Summer in New York is the season of love. You walk down the street smiling and some creep hears I love you. Plain as day.
NYC is a weird place in the summer. The catcalls echo through the streets by the throngs of creepy men who want to take you to their cardboard boxes and take you no where. Women can legally be topless in NYC, but it’s a situation where you play at your own risk. Then there are the asshole men who claim it is your fault if you get groped. Your ass is hanging out. Your boobs are showing. You are a tease. But are you? Are you a tease for minding your own business?
Tough to know.
This past Saturday I had an experience. I was going to get my hair done and a creepy dude begged me for change. He followed me. I lost him. Creep.
Then I went to get my eyebrows threaded. Sure enough there he is smelling of weed, piss, and has his dreads. He follows me again. I tell him to get lost. Getting my brows threaded I didn’t panic. The city is filled with trash and the summer is when they all come out to play.
Finally, I was hungry. Headed home and possibly work. He follows me again. Follows me for several blocks. I tell him to stop. I take out my keys to use as a possible weapon. I don’t care if I get arrested. I am defending myself. The men on the block don’t stop. While they are possibly heading to their own day unaware I am being followed, it feels like they are all colluding together in brute force as part of the rape culture that is ruinous to both genders.
I am now terrified. This is how women die.
I get a friend on the phone because the NYPD are useless in an emergency. By the time they get there you are dead or close to dying. They are apathetic, undertrained, understaffed, and out of shape. My heart is beating. I tell her what’s going on. She asks where I am. She tells me to call the cops and if I don’t text her when I get inside my house she will call the cops.
I see the bastard staring at me. “I’m Shane.” He says.
“I am calling the cops, Shane.” I said.
“You wouldn’t do that to me, you love me.”
“We are breaking up and the police are helping me.” 911 is on the phone. Shane hears me. He slinks away. My heart is beating out of my chest. I want to die. I want to die. I want to die.
I am a DV person. I have had a partner hit me. This is all too visceral and real. I feel like maybe had I left the house in a full head scarf and snow suit this creep would have left me alone. I want to crawl under my covers and die. That way the pain won’t kill me. That way he can’t come back and kill me and win. I am so paranoid I order food in.
An older gentlemen who mentors me is the one stuck comforting me. I end up crying and yelling. I can tell he is cursing his life as he tells me it’s going to be alright. How the fuck does he know? As a white male over 60 he wins every election. He is a straight white male. He has always won every election regardless of what he voted for or who. He tells me people have it worse than me. Way to make me feel worse. Way to make me feel like a selfish piece of shit on top of the fact I feel like a piece of trash. Just then, I realize he is trying to comfort me in the way he knows how. He is trying his best. He isn’t chasing me out of his life. Take the friendship asshole. You aren’t dead.
And he suggests going into a store to ask for help if Shane returns.
The next day feels better. I am out. I am free. I have my book to be peddle.
In a good mood I call my friend to apologize. He’s not home. He calls back. The White Knight and his timing as usual are impeccable as seconds later, my landlord pounds on my door. “April, there is a guy out front to see you.”
I tell my friend I will call him back.
The window is open and pot is wafting in. My landlord’s parents, both in their 80s, are saying the guy is talking to himself. He is a “character” and won’t leave until he can talk to the pretty blonde named April. He’s got dreadlocks. He’s the creep from the boulevard. Now I am just pissed. “It’s the creep that followed me yesterday and he knows my name!” I screamed. “How the fuck does he know my name.”
Just then my landlord emerges. While he’s not tall, he grew up in Little Italy when it was Little Italy. He worked dice games for mobsters. He’s seen dead bodies. Shane didn’t scare him. “Get out of here, or I will call the cops or kill you. Or I might do both, do you hear me you mutherfucker!” My landlord says. There is a baseball bat near the door. My landlord picks it up.
“Sorry.” Shane says and slinks away.
I end up calling my friend back. A former cop, he is telling me how to have Shane arrested in the future. I don’t want to hear it. I tell my friend he’s an asshole and start verbally abusing this poor old man. My friend, while kind, tells me to stop and means it. I start crying. He comforts me. The poor sonvabitch has been avoiding me for days and now I know why. I would avoid me too. I have been a handful. Actually, we did speak and we are cool. He says he’s so old he’s forgotten, but I know April being April is too much even for April.
The next day I hear Shane had been making a nuisance of himself by knocking on the doors of the elderly asking if they had a hot blonde named April in the house. The asshole was persistent. I gotta give him that. This psychotic male admirer puts me first, and not many psychotic male admirers do that. Shane even mentioned he had seen me on TV and even knew about my book and recognized me. And here I was, thinking I lost my magic touch.
Either way, I am done blaming myself. I am done living in self-pity. Shane better get his quarters together from begging and buy my damn book so my bank account can know I have stalkers. And you should, too.