Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Trick

I am a small man.

During a night-walk through the city, I feel bigger, as if I expand to fill the space usually occupied by people during the day. However, other night-walkers are also bigger, bigger than me. The men, especially, are strange and menacing in their size and ugliness. If I see one (or a woman wearing men's pants) I'll discreetly diagonally cross to the other side of the street to avoid him, regardless of race, because I imagine he intends to aggravated-ly assault me. Aggravated assault is manly. Simple assault is like an accident.

Because it is sometimes impractical or rude to zig-zag down the street, sometimes I am forced to pass only a couple of feet from a giant, ugly psychopath. My hands quiver, and my feet walk heel-to-toe on the far edge of the sidewalk. I often fall off into the grass, where the dog poop lies, and then scamper away.

These spells of paranoia are no good for me, so I have come up with a trick: I pick a kind person I know who resembles the man walking toward me and imagine that it is he, the kind one, who I am passing. In this way I pass former teachers, college buddies, and work colleagues, each totally non-threatening. Of course last week Mr. Sheridan, my high school physics teacher, hit me in the stomach with a crowbar and took my wallet — probably to teach me the rate at which a falling body accelerates — but I wrote a letter to the school board. How can they let this man teach young adults?


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