We've had a rash of assaults in The Woodlands area in the last month or so. I heard about them the other night when I told my mom that I was going to Barnes & Noble at 8:30 in the evening to buy a book that I wanted. She said "At NIGHT??" with that mock-surprise tone that only mothers can get away with. Then she proceeded to run down the list of all the bad things that have happened lately in our town: the shooting at an apartment complex, the mugging at a local pizza place, and a mugging at one of the nearby Starbucks. She told the story of each crime beautifully with passion and conviction - she really shines when relaying any type of tragic or foreboding news. When she finished, she looked at me with a triumphant expression - as if she knew that she had convinced me of the dangers of going to get a book at night - and said "So, Catherine - don't you think that hits a little too close to home?" I said "Yep . . . But it doesn't hit too close to Barnes & Noble so I think I'm safe."
What my mom fails to give me credit for is that I know self defense and, in fact, used to teach it. I'm not saying that makes me invincible - it just makes me not terrified to run up to the book store even though it's nighttime. One thing that we taught the people who took our self defense class is that criminals have a script in their head and the best thing you can do is to change it up on them. For instance, someone who is going to abduct you has it all planned out in his head: "I'm going to go up to her and yell 'Get in the blankety blank car!' and she's gonna get in." (This criminal doesn't like to cuss . . .). So, in that instance, if you do something other than what he's planning on (like yell your ever-loving head off), it makes him panic and bail on the attack. Now, I know it's not fool-proof but it's a place to start, right?
Sometimes I wonder what would be the best way to throw a bad guy off his script. Sure, I could just yell and call attention to the situation so that they opt for bailing rather than getting caught, but where's the fun in that? What if I'm feeling particularly creative one day and happen to get mugged? Is there some law that says I can't think outside the box when responding to my attacker? Absolutely not. So I came up with a few unconventional ways to throw off a potential attacker:
The Boogie Man:
If a man approaches me in a parking lot and threatens me, I think it would be a good idea to put my finger in my nose and pull out the biggest booger I can find and then hold it out towards him. No one - I repeat, NO ONE - wants to have a booger wiped on him. Including any would-be assailants. It's disgusting. I daresay I could chase the bad guy around the parking lot with my arm reached out and booger locked and loaded. The beauty of this defense is that it not only changes the script up on him, but it turns the predator into the prey. And that would be victory.
The Ol' Heave Ho:
One particularly creative way to scare off a bad guy is to get a mad case of the dry heaves immediately upon being assailed. No one wants to be around when someone else throws up - you smell it, you hear it, you start having sympathy heaves . . . it's just bad. So I think it would be good to use that against a bad guy. Plus, you'd really get to use your acting skills because you'd have to seriously sell it. I imagine the attack proceeding like so:
Attacker Joe: Hey, lady - give me the keys to your effing car. [again, this is an attacker who doesn't like to cuss . . .]
Me: Okay, I ju-[HEAVE]-st have to f-[HEAVE]-ind them in my pur-[HEAVE]-se.
Joe: [backing up and hesitating] You have . . . you have 30 seconds lady.
Me: I'm try-[HEAVE]-ing. But there's a lot of stu-[HEAVE]-ff in here.
Joe: Are you gonna throw up?
Me: I think s-[HEAVE]-o. I just had Mexican and it's n-[HEAVE]-ot sitting well . . .
Joe: Well, just hurry.
Me: Oh, n-[HEAVE]-o. Here it comes . . . [hand over mouth in pre-vomit position and lurching toward bad guy].
And then he'd run off.
I think it would work.
Another way to throw an attacker off while simultaneously having some fun with acting is to try to make him believe he just inadvertently became a part of a covert and potentially deadly meeting between two spies. Again, you'd have to sell it - you'd really have to play the part of the spy. It would go something like this:
Joe: Hey, lady - give me your effing purse.
Me: [speaking frantically and in a hushed voice] What the HELL are you doing? Put that gun away. [looking around in a paranoid fashion] You told me you'd be wearing a red shirt but you DIDN'T say you'd be acting like a mad man. If you had, I'd never have agreed to meet you in such a public place. [looking up on the the roofs of buildings and behind cars]. Do you know how many federal agents are watching us right now??
Joe: What the - what are you talk-
Me: Shut up! We don't know if any of these cars are bugged! What is your PROBLEM? You're acting like you've never done this before. "Raven" said you were EXPERIENCED and here you are acting like you're just some dumb run-of-the-mill mugger.
Joe: Well, actually . . .
Me: I mean, do you know how many years at Leavenworth we're looking at for this? Do you know what they DO to people like us in Leavenworth? Keep your freakin' head in the game. Now, let's get over here out of earshot of all these people. We have strict orders that if anyone not connected to this transaction gets wind of it, we're to eliminate them immediately, no questions asked.
And then he should run off.
Cat Scratch Fever:
At any given time, I have 10 secret and deadly weapons at my disposal: my toenails. I don't know why but they grow really fast and are lethal when long. I used to imagine that if anyone broke into our house when I was growing up, my family would pick me up in battering-ram fashion so that my feet would be in the intruder's face and then chase the guy around the house while I tried to gouge his eyeballs out with my toes. Even if I didn't manage to get the eyes out of the sockets, I figured I could inflict some pretty significant facial scarring. Maybe even scratch a big Z on the bad guy's face for fun - just as an inside joke for me and my family that we could talk about for years to come: "Remember that time you scratched the Z in that guy's face like Zorro? That was HILARIOUS."
So see? My mom has nothing to worry about. As long as I've got my toenails, boogers, and my mad acting skills I'm gonna be JUST FINE . . .
Wednesday, January 13, 2010