A Subway Grope

by

01/13/2008

Brooklyn Bridge stop, 6 Train,10002

Neighborhood: Lower Manhattan

Having grown up in the City my entire life, I should have had my guard on and my extra sixth sense alert for the criminally suspicious. But I had just come off an awkward date, and I was still reflecting on its minute details, and otherwise pondering the futility of finding love in this hard-worn City, so I was not in my most alert state of mind.

As I made my way down the long, dark passageway of the Brooklyn Bridge stop (yes, idiot! Why did I choose to walk down an empty corridor? Have I ever watched any of those scary teen flicks?), I finally noticed a man walking a little too close to me, and invading my personal space. At this point, I was already halfway up the stairs leading out, with of course, no one else in sight. I turned my head and noticed a white male professional, with light brown close-cropped hair and an average-looking face. He wore a long black wool buttoned winter coat, and otherwise looked like an innocuous professional, sort of a CPA type. I felt huge sense of relief, until he said to me, a bit loudly, “Hello, how are you?”

New Yorker that I am, the occasional stranger’s polite smile is already a shocking event, but that patently false greeting rang out like a red alarm. I quickly chose to ignore it, and hurried up the stairs. That was when I felt a large hand slide up my skirt and grab my ass. I whirled around quickly. “What the fuck!” I shouted and pushed him. My speedy turn jostled him, and he faltered slightly on the stairs. Unfortunately, my shove was not strong enough to tumble the asshole down the stairs. His eyes widened in surprise, but as he regained his balance, he proceeded to turn his face into a leer.

I knew this leer. I knew it well. I recognized it as that uniform expression of every sick motherfucker that has ever tried to exert some kind of power over a young girl or someone weaker. I was going to be damned if he thought he had any power over me.

“What the fuck is your problem?” I shouted. My adrenaline and anger had taken on a renewed surge, and I don’t think I could have cared if he carried a gun or weapon. I lunged in front of him again, ready to strike. I must have shocked him by my readiness for confrontation, because his leer quickly faded. “Okay, okay,” he said, trying to sound conciliatory, but his eyes shifted around us, assessing his next step, perhaps checking for witnesses. “Get the fuck away from me, you asshole. Don’t you ever try that shit again!” My blood was boiling at this point, and I was about ready to push again, when he quickly retreated and left. I’m not sure if it was because I really scared him all that much, or whether he thought witnesses were finally going to appear. I prefer to think it’s because my vehement anger shook him up a bit. With that anticlimax, I ranted and raved all the way home, wishing I had killed the bastard.

Afterward, I got all the typical responses from friends and family. “I can’t believe you walked in that tunnel alone.” “You should have pushed him harder.” “I can’t believe you were zoning out, you should be paying more attention.” “You should have taken a different exit.” Strangely, people have a lot to say about what I should have done, but seem to have forgotten that there just shouldn’t be such incredible assholes in the world. I wonder, what did that man think was going to happen? That some girl will turn around and thank her lucky stars for getting groped and it’ll be happily ever after? Or perhaps he got off from the danger of how close he was going to get his balls kicked.

In the extremes of that night, from the awkward politeness of dating, to the blatant coarseness of aggression, I once again pondered the futility of finding that rare seedling of love in our fair City. As for now, I’ll be taking a different train stop.

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