Don't Drink and El/The Poop Bag Defense

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I wrote about three of my favorite inebriated ladies on TV for this fun Inventory on functioning alcoholics over at the AV Club.

I had an eventful day at and around Steppenwolf yesterday with Emily Gould, during which I had a few glasses of wine. On the El ride home, I became aware of a guy hovering over me, so I made sure I put my smartphone away in my purse and held my bag close to me when we neared the stops, since snatch-and-dash on the El has been known to happen. I thought I was being "street smart," as it were. Over the course of the train trip though, this guy's inner thoughts became more and more outward. I increasingly became aware that this hovering guy was actually a crazy guy, and while he might not have been interested in stealing my phone, he was interested in directing a monologue directly at the top of my head at a volume that grew increasingly louder with each stop. I tried to raise the volume of my Ipod to drown him out so I could just play it cool and ignore him, but he got closer and closer to my person as he shouted. At one point I paused the music to hear what he was talking about, to hear if for some reason I had pissed him off by protecting my stuff. Now I don't know if he was actually talking about me per se, but he did mention a "bitch sitting next to a n----." I happened to be sitting next to an African-American gentleman. Maybe this was a Carly Simon "You think this rant is about you" moment, but what I do know is that thanks to the wine, I started developing what is probably the wrong reaction to a crazy guy talking directly to the top of your head. Instead of being concerned or fearful, I grew irritated. Who was this guy and why did he have to ruin my ride? Why did he single me out? Was he going to touch me? Well, I wasn't going to let him win. I started to give myself a pep talk: I had done a Jillian Michaels video that day. I was strong, I was fearless. I was a little bit crazy. If this guy decided to lay a finger on me I was going to surprise the hell out of him and hurt him. Not emotionally, but physically. I bet he wouldn't see that coming, some girl jumping up and thrusting his arm behind him in a painful manner. Eventually though my better judgment came to me. A.) I have never tussled with a human in my adult life. Just because I felt feisty didn't mean it was time to start. B.) Since this guy was obviously mentally ill, I don't think that my surprise defense move would necessarily teach him any lessons. He might not fight fair. He could still be much stronger than me despite the fact that I can do shoulder raises with a couple of five-pound weights. C.) Nor would my antics impress the El riders. People on public transportation only have on objective when there is craziness going on around them, and that's to stay the f out of it. They weren't going to applaud me if I went off on a mentally imbalanced person--they'd probably be mad at me for making a tense situation worse. Plus, this guy really smelled like pee. I finally gave in and just moved to the other end of the car.

A short while later I was walking the dog and pondering street justice a bit more, when I thought of the "poop bag defense." It's a true testament to my husband's and my connection that he once asked me, "Did you ever think that if you were walking Briscoe and you had a bag of his poop with you, and somebody tried to mug you or hassle you, if you threw the bag of poop at them, it would do anything to deter them?" and the answer is "Yes. Yes I have wondered that." If only I had had a bag of poop on my El trip home, things might have turned out differently. Very differently indeed.