Barbara: If the suspense was killing you since Monday’s post (a little self-aggrandizement, anyone?), here’s the story about when I kicked a car-jacker’s balls. But wait, before I elaborate, I have to add that this is a very handy tale. I can pull it out at get-togethers during awkward moments or to get things rolling. It’s a kind of party-trick.
My story happened several years ago. I had spent the day on the set of a little indie film I was shooting—the film where I met Deb, actually—and I was feeling giddy and excited, but also tired and spent. My husband was out of town and my daughters were still young enough to need a babysitter. As much as I love my girls, I was thinking it might be nice to wait to go home till after they were tucked into bed. Selfish, yes, but I was shooting a movie! It was all about ME for a whole 13 days. It was a glorious time…. But I digress.
I decided to go to the mall and maybe buy myself some sweet something. Yes, lingerie, if you must know, but I would wear it under my costume! I could write it off! So, after shopping and whiling away the time until I was sure the girls would be snug in bed, I headed for my car in the parking lot. And when I say my car, I actually mean my husband’s. And naturally, for the sake of a good story, hubby is a car enthusiast who works in the automotive industry. Suffice it to say, the car was very nice. And, as luck would have it, the producers on the little indie film I was shooting wanted to use his nice car in a scene that day, hence the reason I was driving his car.
It was late—9:00—and dark. My husband’s beautiful car was virtually alone in the vast lot. I approached and noticed that a window was smashed. I was beside myself. Hubby’s beautiful car! My precious me-time ruined! I got on the phone to hubby right away and told him the bad news. We commiserated for a while—bad luck, crappy news, poor me (he was very sympathetic to my ruined me-time), yadda yadda (yadda, yadda). All this to say that I spent a good ten (apparently very vulnerable) minutes surveying the damage and reporting it to him over the phone. I finally got into the driver’s side, left the door open, and (stupidly!) threw my keys on the passenger seat to survey the damage to the interior.
Then through the eerie dark, I hear a low voice: “Give me the car.” I turn to see a masked guy, about 6 feet tall, standing at my open driver’s door. He has one hand on the roof of the car, one on the door, and he’s blocking me in. He didn’t look very old, maybe 18. Nice eyes. I swear, I remember that—eyes like a baby. I stare up into his baby-eyes and he says again, low, deep, like a man: “Give me the car.”
And I lose it. I scream like a banshee on crack. Fight or flight? I guess I got my answer that night. Right or wrong, I am fight. I throw the cell phone down (oh yeah, hubby gets to listen to me screaming insanely while he sits 380 kilometers away in a restaurant with his work colleagues), and I start to kick at this guy’s balls with everything I’ve got. I have this Marx Brother’s image in my mind of me kicking and screaming while this hapless thug bitch-slaps my feet away from his crotch. Felt like hours of terrifying slapstick.
Finally, he looks behind him—and this is the really scary part because he’s looking at someone ELSE—and making his decision for reasons I can only guess at, he turns and leaves. I fumble for the keys—which are somewhere in a pile of broken glass on the passenger’s seat, remember?—and I get the car started and I drive away. But I drive only to the other side of the mall so I can call the police and maybe still catch the fucker.
Long story short, the cops arrive in minutes, the perps are gone (never to be caught), I make my statement, the very nice and helpful cop lectures me on fighting the guy (“It’s just a car, ma’am. Next time, give it to him.” I nodded obediently, knowing all the while that my instincts would be hard-pressed to let me do it.), I drive my broken car home, I assure my panic-stricken husband that I am alive and well, he drives the 380 km in 2 ½ hours (yes, that requires significant speeding), and I get a great story out of a potentially harrowing experience.
I might balk at an open water swim, but when push comes to shove in the right circumstances, I guess I got me some cojones I can jangle.
Deb: I will say that hearing this story again in detail––that I have never really heard fully––made my blood run cold. We were all aghast when Barb showed up on set the next day with frayed nerves and this tale to tell. The part that Barb has forgotten is that the first day on our set was September 11th, 2001. This is the way our film and friendship started. I will not go into details of what we were feeling on that day as I am sure that all of you can share equally the fear and confusion we felt, especially our New York friends. But I do remember, embedded in my brain, the story of Barb trying to fluff off what had happened in that way she has of not taking full credit for her bravery. I also remember the sickening feeling in my stomach when I thought of her beloved husband hearing this happening in real time and yet being powerless to do anything about it. And I remember––and forgive me if I am wrong, Barb––but I do remember you saying that we all felt like such victims on September 11th, and that none of us in the big cities knew what or who would be hit next. And that you said that it was because of just that feeling that you refused to be a victim. You said that you did not know if you may have done quite the same thing otherwise. Am I remembering that correctly? I was so impressed by Barb in this scenario. She went in that moment from being the stunning sweet actress I was getting to know and laugh with to a woman of huge substance. She has not disappointed me since.
Barbara: Deb, I’d totally forgotten that feeling about not wanting to be victimized. Thanks for reminding me of that. Honestly, I have no lingering sense of fear around this event, just a sense of wonder. It made me realize that no matter how well we think we know ourselves, we can’t know how we’ll react in any given moment until we do.