Thursday, March 13, 2014
A week ago, a tango friend with whom I feel a positive connection invited me to an unveiling of her rock band’s video at a bar on the Bowery, in Soho. It was a Facebook invitation and there I declared myself to be a “Maybe” attendee, as I was unsure whether or not I should go.
The day of the event began as a tough one. My early morning head was blown by my own caretaker impatience, and maniacal screaming. Then, when I got to work, the negativity was further exacerbated by the voice mail revelation that one of my key reports had suffered a fall and “a few fractures” in her elbow, and would be out for days, if not weeks. Meaning we had to improvise throughout the workday to meet the newsletter deadlines, which we did. But it was a long and arduous day.
Came the evening and I was still unsure about attending the rock video unveiling. I left work around 7:45PM. On my way to the parking garage, I picked up a bottle of Malbec in the event that I was to head directly home and wine and dine with moi.
My Prius took me onto the FDR, and I realized that I was heading to the Bowery. I wondered what parking would be like in that part of town (unfamiliar territory for me) at that hour. As it turned out, parking was not a problem. I got a spot right on the Bowery itself, famous for its bums. There was an alternate side of the street parking restriction that kicked in at midnight, before which I would be long gone, but after which locals would have to move their cars. Hence, the available parking spaces.
I got to the bar a few minutes after the scheduled start time, 8pm. Recorded music was coming from the area in the back. The volume was reasonable. I felt an urge to head to the back but resisted the impulse, and decided to check in properly with the bartenders. Mistake.
The lovely female African American bartender told me that the event would start at 9 (which turned out to be inaccurate; the event actually started at 8:15 in the back, I would learn the next day). I figured I'd hang out as the music in the back wasn't excessively loud. Suddenly one of the other bartenders turned on different music up front, BLASTING!!!!! It was absolutely awful music (in this man’s opinion) that clashed horribly with the music coming from the back, to the limited extent that you could still hear the music coming from the back.
Ear-splitting cacophonies are not my cup of tea. It was time for me to go. Even with my custom musicians earplugs and 25 decibel reduction capacity, this event would be undoable for me.
I got in my car and started driving, and reconsidering, wondering whether I should just putter around Soho for a bit and return to the bar at 9, or just head home. As I was stuck in traffic on Houston Street, around Chrystie, I heard my rear door open. I turned and saw a big burly Bowery bum , in a hooded sweatshirt, getting into my car. Horrified, truly fucking horrified, I screamed, “What the fuck are you doing? Get out! Get out! Get out!...” And the Bowery bum is just standing there, hunched over, half in, half out, with a “What’s your problem?” attitude being transmitted from behind the hooded sweatshirt that concealed most of his face. Finally my relentless screaming like a Banshee got him to turn slowly and leave, casually closing the door behind him as he did. I watched him walk off, ever so slowly, and begin to rummage through some construction paraphernalia along the side of the Houston Street.
I breathed a sigh of relief, and locked my doors with the manual door controls on my left (the doors on my 2008 Prius do not lock automatically). Traffic started to move. I wondered where to go. Should I return to the bar and the video unveiling, or head home?
I drove along the path of least resistance and ended up on the Bowery northbound, in the lane that takes you to the Manhattan Bridge, and back to Brooklyn. I followed that path. Soon I would be home.
One of the freakier aspects of this experience was hearing the register of my own voice when I was screaming at the burly intruder, whose presence reminded me of the figure of Death, only meatier. My screams of horror, I must confess, sounded borderline female.
Once home, I decided to tell no one about the incident mainly because I was embarrassed by the overtly female screams that projected out of my horrified male body when the Bowery bum was making his way into my car. That at some level, the idea that I was anticipating being murdered, was of little consolation to this alleged street fighting man.
The next morning I was to take my mother to the hearing doctor. Came 8AM and I picked up Mom and her nursing attendant at my mother’s apartment. Spontaneously I revealed what had happened the night before, leaving out the part about my horrific “Get out!” screams sounding female.
In the car, on the way to the doctor’s office, my mother (a very psychic person) revealed that she was following a murder case, and that the defendant was banking on a “screams like a woman” defense. Specifically, in that case, Oscar (“Blade Runner”) Pistorius, a leading South African runner with partially amputated legs who competed in the Olympics, is on trial for murdering his beautiful girlfriend and model, Reeva Steenkamp.
As my mother—who has been following the trial—told the story, Pistorius says that he thought his girlfriend was an intruder. He admits that he shot her, but claims that it was a terrible mistake. Here's a key: Neighbors testified that they had heard screams, and that they were screams of a woman. Pistorius says that the screams were his own screams of horror, upon realizing his mistake! Expert testimony is to be presented stating that when a man is truly horrified, his screams can sound female.
I had never heard of the proposition that when a man is truly horrified, his screams can sound female, but my own “Invasion of the Bowery Bum” experience proved quite convincingly to me that a horrified man’s screams can sound female. If I were the judge trying the Pistorius case (there is no jury, as I understand it, the case being tried in South Africa)—I’d have to consider, along with all the other evidence, whether or not the “screams like a woman” defense, being ridiculed in the wholly untrustworthy mass media, is in fact legitimate, and whether or not Pistorius is actually telling the truth.
Just putting it out there, to the Universe, as I’m feeling compelled to do, the synchronicity of my horrific experience with the Bowery bum dovetailing curiously with Pistorius’ “screams like a woman” defense.
Submitted for what it’s worth. Thanks for reading.