self-defence

Turns out I’m still very vanilla thankyouverymuch

My gym is located in an interesting area of Montreal. As a refresher, in the past 2 years:

  • 2 dudes attempted, and failed, to mug me at the nearby metro station (story here);
  • I got offered a really good deal (no sales taxes) on a underground artist’s music album because I am white (story here);
  • I got the most colorful cat-call of my existence, in front of one of the many strip-clubs of the area, on my way to a wedding reception (story here).

Yesterday, as I exited the metro station, and started the short walk to the gym, at the reasonable hour of 7:30pm, a homeless man walked beside me and repeatedly asked me for $5, alternating between English and French. I politely smiled and refused several times, in French – because growing up in Quebec, I’ve long accepted that it is just easier to speak French to strangers to avoid triggering words of abuse about being an anglophone and a hater (not that those unpleasant episodes happen frequently, but still. I prefer avoiding hateful comments whenever possible. And really, it doesn’t cost me anything – I speak the language well, and enjoy it. I just wished I had learned to enjoy it without the context of discrimination and sour politics. #naive #wishfulthinking)

The homeless man walked alongside me, crowding me, until he abruptly stopped right in front of me, showed me his cigarette and whispered,

C’est parce que j’ai vraiment envie d’√©craser ma cigarette dans ta face.

Which translates charmingly to:

It’s cuz I’d really like to stub my smoke in your face.

He stayed there, standing in front of me, with the burning cigarette 2 inches from my face just long enough to make sure I believed him, and then he walked away.

While he did that, the full irony of the situation (I was on my way to boxing) was not lost on me. Yet I stood frozen, and scared, not sure how to handle the situation. As always, afterwards, I was left with the uncomfortable feeling having been too passive, too accommodating, too female. Wondering how I could have handled it better and more assertively.

I also wondered if any of my feelings would have been shared by Marie-Antoinette, long ago. Poor scared little (relatively) rich white girl, and all that.

#stillvanilla

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