cue the theme from deliverance

So I’m driving home from lunch with a friend. Said friend lives way over yonder and I live here, and so we meet in the middle once or twice a year.

There’s a lot of countryside between here and way over yonder and it pleases me to drive through it.
But I’m late and there’s a cement truck in front of me all the way up one (two lane) highway, and then construction on the other (two lane) highway, so I can’t stop for pictures, except the ones I take while stopped, to prove there’s actual construction and that I’m not just rudely late. Not that said friend needs proof; but taking pictures is something to do while stopped.
Lunch is a patio, an endless strings of words, hugs and laughter. This person has been through much in the past few years, one of the strongest people I know. Yet she, in the way of such people, has no clue as to her own strength. It’s my pleasure to remind her. And to celebrate having come out the other side intact, more brilliantly herself than ever.

Driving back home, I’m in no rush and so decide to turn left here, and right there, venturing down the occasional country lane.
As a woman, I’m always aware of the potential for trouble in venturing down lanes. I take in the air and the sights. But I remain alert. I’d like to pretend this isn’t the case, to throw out some bravado, but it wouldn’t be true. Not that the ‘awareness’ stops me from the venturing, it’s just that I don’t do it casually, the way, maybe, a fellow would.

I suspect that every woman has a few dicey-situation stories to tell. Keeping one’s wits about one helps ensure they have happy endings.

But back to all that green.
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And then, as I walk along the shoulder of a particularly untraveled road in order to get the optimal view of greenness, a car in the distance coming toward me.

Not especially noteworthy, except that I can tell it’s slowing down. A beater of car, as if the driver forwards and backs into walls as a matter of course.

I tell myself it’s a kind soul who wonders if maybe I’m in distress, but even I don’t believe me. I am very obviously not in distress. I am very obviously taking pictures. And the car is very obviously now stopping right in front of me. The window is lowered. Inside, a large man in a dirty tee-shirt. His stomach abuts the steering wheel as he looks me over before speaking, says so, what ya doin’, taking pictures?

He doesn’t care about pictures. I’m pretty sure he’s not big into the creative arts. My car is clearly visible, but it would take me a good minute to walk back to it. Long enough. There’s no traffic on this road.

I look him in the eye. That’s right, I say. See ya.

He continues to stare at me a moment and I stare back, give him the best f**k-you look I can muster. (It’s not hard.) And maybe it’s my age, or maybe it’s the look, or that it occurs to him that it’s only a matter of time before someone drives by (although no one ever did)… but he snarls a bit then steps on the gas and tears away in what feels distinctly like some kind of moronic snit.

I’d like to say that I was emboldened by all this, that my veins surged with a kind of f**k you, assholes who bother women, you can’t stop us from taking pictures on deserted country lanes, “superpower”. But the truth is I walked quickly back to my car.

I continued on my way, still stopping for pictures, albeit on less untraveled roads; I found a greenhouse and bought a fern. I was grateful for traffic. And I hated that this is the way it is for women. On empty country roads, on crowded city ones. There is an ever-present ‘lurking’ that goes on among a certain kind of men.

And it occurs to me how important the friendship of women, how its embrace is one of the few truly safe places. I’m equally grateful for friendships with good men, and it’s a sad thing that that particular bunch is so tarnished with the likes of so many others.

Mostly, though, I’m grateful for a good f**k you look, which I believe I inherited, quite by chance, from my mother.

The moral of the story? How’s this: ladies, teach your daughters it’s not always good to be polite.
And enjoy all the scenery you’re entitled to enjoy…

18 thoughts on “cue the theme from deliverance

  1. I think I inherited my look from an aunt, but I was sure to pass it on to my daughter. Thanks Carin, a lovely, insightful piece.

  2. Bravo ! That’s the perfect way to show you mean business . Yes I taught my girl that, and it works . One more woman that won’t let this world stop her from enjoying what she loves best . Take heed when walking alone .

  3. I love this. You articulated what so many of us feel as women. I want to be brave, to venture out alone, to be independent, to take beautiful pictures in remote locations. But lurking in the shadows is always a bit of fear….which I wish I could let go of for one brief moment. It hasn’t stopped my wandering, but I understand I am vulnerable. I understand the world won’t protect me, so I do my best to be smart and pay attention. Thanks for writing this….

    1. I agree. As women, we too often err on the side of being ‘nice’, just in case we’re wrong about someone’s intentions and, goodness, we wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings… An admirable quality as long as it doesn’t bite us in the end!
      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment…

  4. I know the feeling. And it’s a good, cautionary tale. But I also the know the feeling where curious sight-seers took pictures of my house in the country. I HAD to approach them to ask what they were doing, and they mumbled about liking historical homes, etc. It made me uncomfortable. We’ve all become so suspicious of each other. For all you know that man might have been a local who is contesting the zoning ministry, or has an old neighbour he is protecting from “sight-seers.” I am relieved that nothing worse happened, and I’m proud of you for giving him the devil-woman who lurks below the surface of all of us who’ve had to protect ourselves from unwelcome interference.

    1. I would have loved to believe he was doing something worthwhile. It was even a fleeting thought at the time. But when I saw him, his expression and manner, well, I picked up a certain vibe, shall we say. And even if I was wrong, the thing that resonates is the vulnerability felt in situations like that. Always. (And where I was, there was nothing. No charming, or other, houses; no barns, nuthin. Just trees. And it was a public road.)

  5. Yes, that’s it. The vulnerability. Which has nothing to do with where you are or what you were doing, or the quality of your smile or your mind, but merely with your size and gender. (I see, by the way, that under the “theme Categories” list beside this posting there is nothing yet that has anything to do with the reality that women fear men. Not all women, not all men, not all the time. But we all know it when it happens. “Anthropological studies”, indeed. “Alien moment” indeed…

    1. Laurie, thank you. Because of your comments, I’ve added a new category. Simply, ‘men and women’. There’s room there for a spectrum of experiences. Your thoughts so very much appreciated…!

  6. I don’t have a single woman friend that has not gone through a similar situation. This post put a knot in my gut, and I was filled with fear for you, Carin. So glad that you were physically unscathed. Then I got angry for you, for women and ‘getting even’ thoughts filled my head, but I let go of that just as you did here in this thought-full post!

    1. Thank you! I can’t imagine there’s a woman anywhere who doesn’t at least have her antennae up just a titch, wherever she goes…
      Or eventually learns to.

  7. Way to go, my pragmatic, insightful, brave-ish and most decidedly wise friend. Yes for the ***k you. Yes for the creeped-out feeling. Yes, yes, yes for sharing this in your brilliant Matilda Magpie way. You give voice where there is far too often silence and awkward feelings. And you put it in such a terrific frame.

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