Monday, February 18, 2008


cue "Walking After Midnight" by Patsy Cline

For the past couple of days I've been dog-sitting Jake (E's bf's dog). Part of our routine is an evening walk...we hit the streets around 6:30/7 p.m., at which time we walk to the park, gallivant through the dark park through the mud and leaves and whatnot, then do a big circuit around the block. It's pretty quiet and pretty dark, and normally I'd be all paranoid, but an over-protective 80-lb German Shepherd has a way of chilling my nerves.

Tonight, right before we arrived at the intersection where we turn left to return to E's bf's place, I looked up the hill in front of me, and saw a figure slowly walking down it, (incidentally) toward us. Jake didn't do more than glance at the figure, but my blood sort of chilled. I was glad that I was wearing the androgynous outfit of sweatpants, sweatshirt, and a baseball cap, because this person looked creepy, and honestly, when in doubt, it's best to try to look as masculine as possible.

I kept looking at the person as we walked toward the intersection. He/She was wearing dark clothes...and possibly...a trenchcoat?! Or an open bathrobe? Who the hell knows. And even though there was no visual evidence of this, I was positive that the Being was carrying an ax or shotgun, or similar weapon that would yield my protector dead as a doorknob.

Jake and I reached the intersection, took the left back to the condo, and kept walking. We turned into E's bf's tiny cul-de-sac, and when we got to the front door, Jake didn't look like he was ready to go in, and I was feeling a bit guilty that I'm going to be at work tomorrow (God, how do people leave their children to go to work? I have problem's leaving someone else's dog...), so we turned out of the cul-de-sac and back onto the road. Peering to my left, I saw the creepy trenchcoat/bathrobe wearing ax/shotgun wielding person slowly making his way down the road.

So we kept walking (to the right, of course), and I looked back periodically to check the Being's progress. I soon lost sight of him, since he was slowly staggering and I was spurring Jake on like a jockey in last place.

Fully completing the transformation to "crazy dog lady," I started talking to Jake about the stranger and how scary he seemed. And I realized...that he wasn't necessarily evil (I mean, he wasn't necessarily not, but you know). The Being's only crime was to walk at night without a dog. And that had seemed weird and disturbing to me.

I'm surprised it took me so long to come to this realization (since I'm always complaining that one has to take up smoking in order to look normal for chilling outside during work)—I'll blame it on the strong gusting winds and the long shadows. And the situation actually reminds me of the short story "The Pedestrian" by Ray Bradbury.

In this story, written in 1951 and set in 2053, the world is addicted to their TV sets, and it's considered freakish and menacing to society to walk (or spend any time at all) outside. One man rebels against this idea, and goes for a walk at night. Deep thoughts on the direction of our society ensues. It's super short, and I recommend a read (I even provide a link! Twice!).

So...kind of ironic that the story resonates quite deeply with me, yet at the same time tonight I espoused the ideas of the cold, cold future. I think a big part of it is living in D.C., feeling sort of paranoid that I'll get jumped any time I'm out alone walking. It might be a fear without base? Or a fear that is unique to urban areas? I hope. Because I miss walking at night for the sake of walking.

I'd be interested to hear if other people feel safe walking alone at night.
“What are you doing out?”
“Walking,” said Leonard Mead.
“Just walking,” he said simply, but his face felt cold.
“Walking, just walking, walking?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Walking where? For what?”
“Walking for air. Walking to see.”
- the pedestrian

Maybe he was scared of Jake...
no, TC, clearly he was a malevolent being ;-)
I think I read the Pedestrian. Glad you're bloging again!
I read about that in freshman year, it was excellent. My friends and I always go for walks at night, it's a good hobby. Of course, we're all smoking, so it isn't sketchy, haha.
thanks robert!

haha but you're smoking pipes...that might make it sketchy again :-)
Hahaha true. So our walks go from sketchy to not sketchy, and then straight back to sketchy.

"My dad's 72 years old and he smokes a pipe!"
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