the best kind of sandwich
Last Thursday, I was super-excited for the weekend. I was going to Las Vegas in hopes of playing in the annual Andy Mercer Memorial 9-Ball Classic held at the Rum Runner on Tropicana. The “Rum Runner” tournament is a bar table nine-ball tournament limited to 64 entries and this year, they had sold out surprisingly early. I had sent in my entry a couple of weeks ago, but got a call RIGHT after I had dropped my entry in the mail (certified with return receipt, of course) to tell me entries had been closed. F—. Through the efforts of a kind Las Vegas friend, I managed to get the second spot on the waiting list. In the past, players would drop out prior to the event so many people told me my chances to get in as the #2 alternate were quite good. The day before, I’d been told one person had dropped out and now I was #1 on the waiting list.
I was also excited because I would be tagging along with friends to the tournament which meant I wouldn’t have to take Greyhound. Laziness for the win! The plan was to leave Thursday evening, but my friends ended up having to work late. It was raining hard outside, but I found it boring to be indoors so I decided to take a walk down to the supermarket to get some snacks for the road. I didn’t want the bother of bringing an umbrella on such a short walk so I decided not to bring one. I put on some old clothes, stuck just my wallet in my jacket pocket (didn’t want the bother of bringing a purse, either), and since my usual waterproof boots were in need of repair, I laced up in my newest shoe acquisition — my first pair of athletic shoes since high school (these normally stupid-expensive shoes had been on sale at an offer-you-can’t-refuse price). I zipped up my jacket and trotted down the street.
I was so engrossed in thinking about the upcoming weekend that I walked past the supermarket by a block. I ended up in front of the local nail salon and, in an inexplicable fit of girliness (or maybe because I was getting soaked and just a little cold), I went inside. I was promptly told (and convinced) I should have my eyebrows cleaned up. This time-honored technique of girlification which would magically transform me and improve my life would cost me six dollars. Right. I looked out the window and the rain had actually begun to come down harder. Fine. Let’s fix my eyebrows. During the process, I got a text message from Mark Estes, one of the guys helping with the Rum Runner, telling me that no one had dropped out that morning. If no one dropped out before the end of the calcutta, then I would not be able to play. AAAAUUUGGGHH! This did not put me in a good mood. The beautician put a rather oily lotion on and around my eyebrows to soothe the sting of the tweezing. I was annoyed by the lotion but I knew I’d be home soon and figured I’d wipe it off then. The rain let up a little and I made a quick exit towards the supermarket across the street.
I made a mental list about what I wanted to get while I waited for the walk signal. The light turned green, the little WALK man blinked on, and I started to cross the street. At about halfway through, I felt two hands go down the back of my pants, squeeze, and the next thing I knew, I saw a guy running away ahead of me.
WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED?!
My first thought was, Is that someone I know? That better be someone I know. And then I thought, Even if that’s someone I know, that’s not fucking right. I ran after the guy.
I yelled a few profanites after him and he looked back. Almost immediately, he ran into an advertising kiosk in the middle of the sidewalk. I caught up and grabbed him by the neck. I yanked his head back in a most ungentle manner and said, “What THE FUCK was that?!” I lose what little eloquence I have when my blood pressure goes above a certain level.
He smiled at me with a giggle and said, “It’s okay! It’s okay!”
“THAT is NOT okay!” I had my left hand in a vise grip around his throat. Some of you know my appearance is deceptively delicate for the amount of Fuck-You-Upness that burns in the crematorium of my heart. “You piece of shit, you ARE NOT getting away with this.” He giggled some more and I increased the pressure of my grip further. With my free hand, I took my phone out of my jacket pocket and began to dial 911.
He kept repeating, “It’s okay! It’s okay!” in heavily accented English. It was possible he didn’t speak English at all. He treated this whole thing as a joke. Then, he put his hands on my chest, and laughed.
That move, asshole, is no bueno.
My body temperature instantaneously skyrocketed and I said through gritted teeth, “That. Is. NOT. Okay.” I calmly put my phone back in my pocket, zipped the pocket shut, increased the pressure of my left hand around his windpipe (he abruptly stopped laughing), and began to hit.
The first punch landed solidly on his temple and dazed him. I had a mission and I was single-minded in my mission: this piece of shit would pay for what he thought he could get away with for no other reason aside from the fact I was a woman and he was a physically larger man. I was very methodical and demonstrated excellent technique. He came out of his stupor after about thirty seconds and realized what was happening. I think he began to be afraid.
He began to fight in earnest and even though he was bigger than me, I never let up. He hit me several times but each time his fist connected with my face, his blows glanced off. This was due to a good roll. I was shorter than he was, so he had to swing downward as he swung across. When he did manage to hit me at all, the contact point was right about where my eyebrows were. That icky lotion the salon lady had smeared across my eyebrows had spread over my face with the rain and so, his punches slipped. Boxers put Vaseline on their face before a fight so that their opponents’ gloves slide off their faces and the impact of the punch is thereby greatly lessened.
He struggled mightily and managed to break my grip. He darted off the the left and began to run through the supermarket parking lot. I checked to make sure the pockets containing my wallet and phone were zipped securely. Then, I ran after him.
I caught up to him, took a flying jump, and tackled him to the ground. We wrestled for a few moments until I got him in a headlock. We had ended up behind a car backing up and the lady in it stopped and came out. “Call the police!” I yelled out to her. She started dialing. This inspired the pervert to really fight. I kept my arm around his neck but he wriggled free and took off again through the parking lot. The lady yelled, “The police are coming!” as I ran after him.
We wove between the parked cars and, thanks to the fabulousness of my brand-new athletic shoes, I was surprisingly agile. He was not so agile and the lead he had on me began to lessen. I knew once he got clear of the cars and out of the parking lot, my chances to catch him would decrease. I was getting tired at this point (my wisdom tooth had been taken out the week before and the empty socket had gotten infected — very gross and very bad for my health) and when I saw him get clear of the cars, part of me thought he was gone for good. Then, the better part of me said, Fuck being tired. You HAVE to catch him. He must be punished. The universe demands it.
I used to be a competitive long-distance runner many, many years ago and never picked it up again after I decided to quit. After I had gotten my new running shoes, I had found them so comfortable I had gone running again, just for the fun of running in bouncy shoes (whee!). It had only been a few days, but I had already become stronger.
I dug deep to hit the motherlode of adrenaline and I swear I have never run as fast in my life as I did with that last surge of energy. I grabbed him by the collar. He turned around and hit me a few times, but that lotion was still doing its job. I kept my hold on his collar and with everything I had left, I threw him down again.
By now a crowd had gathered. He continued to fight but was weakening. I refused to let up on my death grip. He finally said, “No more! Okay! It’s okay! No more!” I said, “What you did was NOT okay and you are SO going to pay for that shit.” He eventually gave up struggling and the police found him sitting in a puddle when they came for him a couple of minutes later.
The other witnesses and I gave our statements. I was told by the police that there was a serial groper in the area and although they had received complaints, they had never been able to catch the guy. He targeted women around that supermarket and they were hoping this was their man. They were amused by the fact that I chased him three times, in my determination to get him. I told them about the time I ran after the thief who stole my cell phone, which only added to their amusement.
“Aaand… What do you do for a living?” This was the oldest of the policemen.
“I already told that to the officer that took down my information.”
“Oh, I’m just curious.”
“I’m pretty much an accountant,” I said with some embarrassment.
“So, nothing exciting in your line of work?”
“No, not really. Just paperclips and staples.”
“You did a great job getting this guy.”
“Life for me starts every day at five ‘o clock. I go to work because I have to, but I really live after I get off work. This asshole took some of that quality time from me and it pissed me off.”
“Well, if you’re interested, you should look into getting a job with us. You could be very good at it and you might enjoy it more than crunching numbers.”
There’s no question I was incredibly lucky in this incident (as I always seem to be in these kinds of incidents). A series of fortunate coincidences (all the factors I listed in pink) allowed me to fight back and detain him long enough for the law to arrest him. Had I been hindered carrying a purse or an umbrella, or worn less comfortable clothes, or worn different shoes, or had a jacket with no pockets, or decided getting my eyebrows done would be frivolous and lame, or that advertising kiosk hadn’t been right there when he had looked back — who knows what would have happened?
Two friends of mine recently had newborn daughters. If I can help them grow up in a world with one less sexual predator, I will.
My friends came and got me a couple of hours later and we set off for Sin City. That little jaunt will be covered in the next blog post.