Friday, March 18, 2005

Night Walk

Tonight I went out for a walk, it had been raining, puddles everywhere, but no problem: no holes in my shoes. Drop of water fell from tree and landed on my nose, I jerked in surprise, my head leaping back and almost snapping my neck. A drop of water! That was all, no need for alarm.
Dog growled at me from behind fence, I made a loud booming Great Dane bark, or what I thought that would sound like, and the growling instantly stopped. I heard little doggy footsteps moving in opposite direction at high speed. I am the big dog in the street, easily frightening all other dogs. I stride along, feeling powerful, I go for walk by myself, unleashed.
Further along, woman putting bin out on street, sees me coming, races back inside and slams door. She must be afraid of dogs.
I think about all the times walking home late at night and there was a woman walking ahead of me. Always I notice the moment when they hear my footsteps behind them. I think of all the scenes from movies and TV shows where the woman realises somebody is walking some distance behind her, seems to be closing that distance. She looks back over her shoulder, again and again. Nothing. Nobody. Mounting terror. When I am the guy walking behind, it seems to me I am more uncomfortable than the woman, because every time this happens I want to call out to her, shout something like, "Please don't worry, miss, I am not a rapist. I am not following you. Well, I guess technically I am, but what I mean is, I am not pursuing you. Please do not be alarmed or frightened. I am just walking home to my apartment, that's it right there on the left, down near the bend in the street there, you see it?." Would that reassure her? It probably would, so I should do it, but probably won't, because I would feel ridiculous. Maybe it is better that for a brief while the woman wonders if it is a rapist behind her, than for me to make a damn fool of myself in a quiet dark street, and feel ridiculous.
Anyway, back to my little night walk around the neighbourhood.
When I got to the end of the street, I turned and walked along Oxford Street. There were cars zooming by, mostly in one direction, out to Bondi. It's a big deal on Friday night for the kids to go zooming out to Bondi in their hotted-up shitboxes. When the lights are red, and the cars stop, there is always one that has some kind of monster sound system blasting some godawful shit. Their taste in music is appalling, but I look in the car and they are all wearing stupid tracksuits, so at least they are consistent.
I walk past a local pub. Well, it used to be a pub, now it is a club, and there are many *young people* outside. They are not talking to each other, but talking to other people on their tiny phones, so tiny I can't even see them. They don't want to talk to people around them, it seems, only to people who are some distance away. Those people will never be where they are, but always at some remote location, so they can communicate inanities to each other through their TECHNOLOGY.
I am at the club.
You are at the club?
Yes. At the club.
Are there hotties there?
Yes. Are there hotties where you are?
Yes. There are hotties here, too.
What did you say? I can't hear you...
What did you say? It's pretty noisy here...
Blah blah..
Blah blah blah..

I turn at the next street, and God Almighty what a great surging relief it is to be back in the darkness, the noise receding behind me. There are people in their houses all around me, sometimes I see them through the window, briefly, as I walk past. I think about PEEPING TOMS, are there such people still, today? Do those people still exist, going about their covert, obsessive business? I admire them. They have their hobby. It must be a hobby frought with risk and danger.
Still wondering about the life of a peeping tom, I arrive back at my apartment building, and walk inside.

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