Alright, trusty readers, I seem to have a dilemma. I have gotten myself into a particular situation on more than one occasion recently and it has really got me thinking; about me, and about life; about the way we as human beings interact with each other on the regular, and about trust in general. So I turn to you today for some advice. Allow me to divulge.
Earlier this week, I, along with two dear friends of mine, were in hot pursuit of a set of juggling scarves. Yes, I said juggling scarves…
(Shameless plug: if you want to see me juggle those very scarves, tap dance and sing simultaneously, then you should come see my newest professional theatre gig at Andiamo Theatre in Novi. We’re doing the place up like a 1920s Speakeasy and it’s awesome. Need info? Ask me.)
…Sorry, I had to. Back on track.
So, to purchase said scarves, we went to this quaint little magic shop in Clawson, Michigan. Not only was the atmosphere fantastic and imaginative, but the service was absolutely excellent. The man helping us, the owner, put on quite the show while ringing us up; from quirky quips to a full on trick wherein he made me believe that he accidentally cut my credit card in half, the gentleman didn’t miss a beat. When he began to ask what we needed the scarves for, we explained the whole Speakeasy, silly vaudevillian-style entertainment bit and his eyes lit up. The basement of my place was a Speakeasy! Would you like to see it?
Before we knew it, we were being escorted down a winding case of stairs from the 1920s; and, before we knew it, we were being lead on a tour of the basement, through the dark, while our adorably wacky tour guide frantically searched for the light switch. I suppose it was fun to see it, although the place really no longer seemed to resemble the once elusive gin joint he claimed it was (it now looks more like the typical basement of a small business…). It did have the remains of an old tunnel used to smuggle in booze. I guess that was pretty neat-o. Anyway, who knew? A speakeasy under a little magic shop in good ol’ Clawson.
As the three of us left the building, we giggled together, discussing how funny it was that we followed him down there so willingly. But of course, the guy was nothing but cordial, exuberant, and excited to share a bit of history with us. We were safe all along. Honestly, the worst thing that probably could have happened was the lights sparking on to reveal our guide in a full tuxedo, pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Surprise! Watch me do magic!
This particular event made me think back to one of a similar substance last spring. Right before my sister moved to New York City, we decided to venture to a particular store in downtown Dearborn that I had heard of many times, but had never actually visited. It was a designer warehouse of sorts, in the Village Plaza right off of Michigan Avenue. We went into the building, looked around, but couldn’t seem to locate the store. After a few moments of looking like a couple of lost puppy dogs, a maintenance man approached us and asked if he could help. We explained what we were looking for. Oh, that’s in the basement. Follow me. I’m on my way down there now. We both smiled, said thanks, and followed him into the elevator.
Down. Down. Down in the rickety elevator. Just me, Caitlyn and a particularly beefy maintenance man who just happened to be wheeling around a cart of intimidating-looking power tools. Oh yes, the thought likely passing through your head right now dawned on both me and Caitlyn simultaneously: GET OUT OF THERE! THIS IS STARTING TO SOUND LIKE THE OPENING SCENE OF AN EPISODE OF LAW AND ORDER: SVU! Sure enough, we shared a look, and as the elevator doors slowly opened to reveal a shadowy hallway that almost seemed abandoned, my heart was racing just a little bit faster. This way. We followed him into the depths of the basement. My sister began dragging a bit behind, and out of the corner of my eye, I could see her loosening her shoulders a bit and holding her arms out in front of her, ready for a fight if the opportunity presented itself (Thank Lordisa that my little sister took a semester of self-defense in preparation for the big city… Oh, and you should probably know that Caitlyn’s plan involved him attacking me first, enabling her to strike while he was distracted. In her version of problem solving, I was practically bait. Yeah, she loves me.).
Sure enough, after a short walk, the man pointed to the entrance of the warehouse we were looking for. We thanked him again and he waltzed on down the hallway, tools in tow, barely turning around to say goodbye. We entered the door, safe as can be. And I bought a super fab tie-dye maxi dress. Holla!
As you’ve probably deduced, the situation I seem to find myself in far too frequently is following strange men into dark basements. (And I’m pretty sure somewhere my Mother just had a heart attack reading this.)
Truly, this teensy weensy little habit that I have begs so many questions. Is this a situation that young women like me find themselves in a lot? Is it just me? Actually, don’t answer that. It probably is just me. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I am a gullible guss and tend to get very excited when those around me are. You know, sort of like how a baby or a puppy matches the sentiment it’s given. So, it’s really not a surprise that I would follow a man into the basement of his magic shop speakeasy because his face lit up and got all squishy like a cartoon characters’ does when he asked us to go. He was just so adorable!
Famous last words, right?
So, maybe, it’s seriously about darn time that I learned some legit, butt-kickin’ self-defense. If a girl is trusting and kind in this world, maybe that really does mean she’s more apt to get lured into a basement and, well…we’ve all seen Silence of the Lambs. Yeesh. My sister took self-defense and loved every moment of it. Always lead with the elbow, she says. It’s the strongest part of your body. Wham!
When I tell these stories to people, they usually respond with that “Oh, honey…” phrase. The one that is usually accompanied by that look of condescending concern. And I know I should be more, well, aware of my surroundings. I should probably stop following men into basements. And I probably should be prepared to defend myself at all times. But geez louise, what happened to good old fashioned trust? Relying on the kindness of strangers? Is it really safe to always expect that you’re not safe? Or does that mentality, in and of itself really create a scarier world? Can we find that delicate balance?
Maybe I should just stop thinking and lead with the elbow. Lead with the elbow. Lead with the elbow.