Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Who Are You Anyway?
I walk pretty frequently in my neighborhood and generally avoid houses where I can. That’s not always possible, however, and today I walked further than usual because of the nice weather and passed a house where a boy of 7 or 8 and a girl of 4 or 5 were playing. The boy came running toward me as I approached but I tried merely to nod at him and continue on my way at a fairly fast pace. There would have been a time when I might have stopped to chat. But that time is not now.
The girl followed her brother, and made sure to inform me that he was her brother. I said, “your brother, huh. That’s nice.” I still kept walking, moving over to the far side of the gravel road as far away as possible, and tried to do nothing to encourage them to come closer. But I didn’t want to growl at them like some ogre.
The little girl turned and started running along beside me, along the side of the road, and asked: “Who are you anyway?” I replied, “Oh, my name is Charles and I’m just getting a little exercise.”
I heard the mother come outside then—I was almost past the house—and imagine she’d heard my voice. She snapped at the children, particularly her daughter, to “get over here.” The little girl asked her mother “why,” then said, “he was talking to me.” I thought to myself, I’d rather you not say that, little girl. I might get shot for something like that.
I almost stopped to explain to the mother who I was and try to reassure her that I’m just a harmless guy with long hair. But then I thought, what if she finds that suspicious? In the end I just kept going.
I’m proud of that mother for coming outside, for intervening. She did her job. I just wish it wasn’t her job. I wish she didn’t have to be suspicious of a fellow out for an evening stroll in the nice fall weather. I’d rather not be thought of as the bogie man. Even if it is almost Halloween.