While dropping off a carload of my daughter’s bedding and athletic equipment at the Goodwill donation center, I noticed a car closely following me. The driver followed for a few miles as close to my bumper as he could be.
Men do this to me with bizarre frequency. It might be because I drive an expensive car. It wasn’t expensive to me, but they don’t know that. It could be caused by some combination of our rape culture and their inadequate sexual performance. Whatever the reason, this happens to me.
Unlike Constance, I was not a particularly attractive child nor am I a beauty now. That kind of attention isn’t really about the person receiving it. It is about the aggression and issues of the people giving it.
Sometimes, the tailgating would end with them asking for my number at a light and sometimes with a yelled compliment as often about the car as me. The scariest incidents are those like today when they follow me all the way to my destination and then get out of the car to talk to me. Historically, I would use my politest words and most respectful tone to decline. I would say something like, “Oh, thank you so much. I’m flattered but, unfortunately, I am in a relationship. Thank you, though,” as I walked away. What I meant was please don’t murder me.
Once, as a teenager, a guy asked me out at the McDonalds on the bridge between Chicago and Indiana. When I declined, he grabbed my hands and started loudly praying for me.
It was nearly as scary as the old man who came up to me when I was alone in an aisle at a Meijer supermarket at age 10 and said, “Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?” I replied, “Yeah,” as I ran to my mother and brothers; no cereal is with abduction.
Since Candace’s passing, I don’t have the energy for self-preservation. I’m untethered. I’m not afraid of death. I’m dangerous. While tailgated on the way to Goodwill I took the man’s measure and thought I like my odds.