His junk is burned in my brain. I can’t unsee it.
Last week I was walking down the street at noon in a sleepy little suburban town to meet a friend for lunch and a guy flashed me right out in the open sunlight.
I expect these things at 2 a.m., on a city subway or down a dark alley in a major metropolitan area, but I see now that penis parts can rear their very ugly heads at any time, in any place.
I passed him nonchalantly walking down the street to my car, where I dropped off a package I’d bought from a store, and when I turned around, I encountered another package. Walking back up the street to meet my friend for lunch, there he was again. He’d followed me down the street to my car and when I tried to pass him, he lunged at me, and that’s when I noticed the whole enchilada.
Here in the suburbs we make eye contact and nod and smile when we pass people on the street. He seemed so normal the first time, but the second time he lunged at me hanging brain. Makes me reconsider that whole smiling at strangers thing, because maybe smiling is Man Code for SHOW ME YOUR DONGLE.
I flinched but I kept walking up the street to the restaurant, not turning around to see if he was still following me because I didn’t want him to know that I’d noticed or that I was scared. But I was scared. My heart was hammering and I was afraid I was being chased by the flasher on a deserted street. When I got to the restaurant tucked back in the little alcove it was locked and I started to shake like a frightened animal. I called the friend I was meeting to see if she was close enough to pick me up because I didn’t want to go back to my car because what if Penis Man was still there. I asked her to stay on the line with me and I went around the corner to another restaurant and felt the relief of other women and safety in numbers as I slid into a booth and smoothed the napkin across my lap.
I called the police and explained about the penis frightening innocent ladies heading to their lunch dates. My poor husband. I came home and he was like sooo you probably don’t want to have sex tonight huh? And I was like right and probably never again. Later I told the whole thing to my two oldest kids, because everything is a life lesson these days. They both started laughing, then looked uncomfortable, which is balls out accurate for how I felt about the whole thing, and my son’s first question was, “Was it hairy?” This feels like a completely legit question from an eleven-year-old.
I talked things through with my daughter, about getting to safety, about calling the police, because I know damn well someday something might happen to her and she has to prepare. I talked to my son about never being this guy, because maybe this man’s mama never told him about the “private parts in private places” rule? I will be thorough and not leave this tidbit about the tidbits to chance.
Each time I told a friend what happened, she had the same reaction I did. “Bahahahahaaaa … oh honey are you okay?” It’s utterly ridiculous. And also darn unnerving to see a stranger’s rogue penis leap out at me in the middle of my day. It’s funny now, and it was also terrifying then. Emotions are complex and weird.
I thought I was this uber-empowered feminist but when it came down to it, the first thing I thought was, Is it my orange velvet coat or the fact that I actually put on makeup today? Did he pick me because I’m attracting attention with my dangly earrings? Am I too flashy? Is it my fault? What did I do to cause this? This is my gut reaction.
No. It’s not my fault. I didn’t cause this. And yet there it is in my head, this intrinsic guilt for being female, drilled down into me since childhood. Don’t be a temptress. Don’t cause a boy to stumble. Watch how you dress. Or else a man might be forced to whip out his twig and both berries and fling himself at you on your way to lunch. A world of nope.
I disappointed myself. I thought I’d be stronger. In my head, I’m Black Widow ready to drop kick bad guys and send the penis patrol packing, but in reality gross men who are bigger than me and catch me off guard scare me. I felt helpless. The police called me the victim and that’s what I was. Victim sounds weak and I hate feeling weak. I don’t want to be Penis Lady. But maybe I don’t have to be a superhero to be strong. Maybe getting to safety is enough for one tiny writer with leg muscles like limp linguine. Strength comes in all shapes and sizes. I didn’t defeat him with kung fu but I’m triumphing over him in my head with little peter jokes. As I say all the time, laughter makes us brave.
I find myself wondering yet again, what are men thinking? What was this guy thinking? Maybe he wanted to scare random women on the street, to exert his power over luncheon-bound ladies just heading to a nice chicken salad. Or maybe he’s just super proud of his junk. Just in case that’s it, let me say here, men, your junk is a service area. If we’re trying to make a baby or mama just gots to get laid, please release the kraken. Otherwise, keep it in your pants, because contrary to your sad delusions, it is neither an attractive appendage nor a particularly exciting one. Looks like a turkey neck and I am not hungry for giblet gravy.
Since The Incident I’ve had several hearty laughs about the whole thing, and a few cringy flashbacks that make me want to never leave the house. But whether he’s still out there terrorizing the neighborhood or holed up somewhere fondling himself, I want him caught and forced to experience poetic justice for his actions. I hope he goes to prison with no pants.