I don’t run very often. Probably… once a week, or six times a month, or something. Not enough, in any case, for health reasons. I run for other reasons. I run when I’m frustrated, angry, (and/)or feeling aggressive. I run so that I don’t lash out at someone else when it’s not his or her fault, so I don’t regret saying something stupid later, and because it hurts. I know that sounds weird, but I run because it’s a way of lancing the boil, so to speak. It hurts, but it’s a good hurt, and it means I won’t purposefully hurt myself in my own aggression. It gives me a feeling of running away from my problems, if only for a little while, because I’m literally running. I don’t want company while I’m running; I have headphones in and angry music turned up loud enough that I can only barely hear the outside world. I’m angry and brooding, and running is cathartic. Basically: me + running = go away.
While I’m in Cali, my route is just over a couple of miles long. For those of you who know where I live, I go up toward F— but instead of turning right (to head toward the high school), I turn left and pass the YMCA. I turn left again at the former House of Fabrics (now called Joanne’s, but I still call it ‘House of Fabrics’ for some reason) and head back down on C— or that other street back to my house.
This morning at 7:40 (I know the exact time because I time myself and record my progress on FavoriteRun) I headed out the door and began running the route in reverse, just to change things up. It was going fine until I got to the Y, where I heard a guy catcalling from the part of the sidewalk closest to the street. He was leaning against his car (at least, I think it was his car) and whistling and calling me names like a stereotypical construction worker. (I don’t think he was a construction worker, though; he was wearing a suit and tie.) I could hear him over the music in my ears, so I knew he wanted me to hear him. He, apparently, wasn’t messing around. (As if catcalling is just a-ok when the person is a woman alone or something.)
I wasn’t messing around, either. I flipped him off. I wasn’t in the mood to play or humor anyone, and I figured he’d get the idea. Unfortunately for me, he didn’t.
He reached out as I passed and grabbed one of the earbud cords and ripped it out of my ear. My head turned involuntarily with the force and the other one was ripped out, too. I stopped.
“Listen, honey, you need to lighten up. Let me tell you why bitches like you don’t get any real lovin’—”
“Don’t touch me, asshole,” I said, interrupting him. It was hard to feel bad about it when he was insulting me.
“Aww, pretty girl’s afraid of a real man, aren’t ya?” he asked me, grinning.
And then he reached around and grabbed my braid.
Before I even realized what I was doing, his head was between my palm and the hood of his car. I vaguely heard him gasping in pain, but it didn’t register until I’d returned home later. He’d ripped out some hair and my hairband on the way down, but the stinging was nothing compared to being touched against my will.
I was sort of thinking, *Where does this asshole think we are? This is [the suburbs], for christ-sakes. At 7:45 AM on a school day. In front of the freakin’ Y.* (Actually, it was more like 8:00 AM, but that’s not really the point.)
Instead, I said, “I don’t even like it when my friends touch me, and I warned you, you fuck. I have a run to finish, so why don’t you go assault someone else?”
I grabbed my hairband from his hand and let him up, stepping back and watching him for half a minute. When he didn’t move except to straighten, I tied my messed braid back with the hairband. His hands went to his face and I turned and kept running my route.
He didn’t call after me or make any move to stop me.
So, a warning to the assholes out there who feel like it’s okay to catcall or otherwise make a general ass of themselves: if I hear your catcalling before 10 in the morning, I will flip you off. And if you follow me, continue with the lewd comments, touch me in any way, and/or generally don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, I will smash your face into your car’s hood.
I can officially say that that is not an idle threat.