"You're really pretty," the kind stranger says as he takes his eyes off the road and stares at me sitting in his passenger seat. He drives a beat up Toyota sedan with blackish paint faded and dull like it had been spray painted on and then sanded. He has bright blue eyes, black plastic-rimmed glasses and absolutely no interest in where I want to be dropped off.
"Thanks," I say. "I just need a ride up the road. It's around here somewhere." I have last night's makeup still partially on. I'm sure it's greasy and creasing around my eyes. I had gone out that day in such a hurry that I hadn't even washed my face. A dirty damsel in distress. I had just been walking around lost somewhere between the health department on Charleston and the tow truck company on Westwood near the industrial yards and clusters of strip clubs. My car had been towed the night before, and I needed to be at the health department before they closed that day, a Friday, so I could pick up a work card before the weekend. After that, I was going to make the two-mile walk to the tow yard. It was rush hour and the cab company told me it would take about an hour to get a cab to me. It was a lovely day and I figured I could make the walk in the same amount of time it took to wait for a cab.
About half a mile from my destination, with a dead phone and only a vague idea where I’m going, I accept a ride from some guy who seems nice. He says his name is Tony. He’s young, but it's hard to tell how young because he's really chubby. He could be anywhere from 18 to 35.
He opens the car door to ask me very nicely if I need a ride. And I do. And he looks like any one of my schlubby hipster friends—not a threat at all. He's not middle-aged; he doesn’t have a child molester mustache or anything like that. In high school, I used to hitchhike to get around town, and a guy like this, I'd peg as a pussycat. I had turned down about four other people who pulled over to offer a ride. Two were clearly pimps, one was high on God-knows-what and the fourth I just made up. "What are those, some double D's?” Tony asks, staring at my chest after telling me I’m pretty.
I laugh a tiny bit. I'm annoyed, but not scared at this point. Socially retarded behavior isn't necessarily a red flag for danger in my experience.
"You really know how to show them off."
I'm busty. It's true. But by no means am I showing off anything. He puts his arm around me like we are on a movie date. I push him away. And he starts grabbing me all over. Aggressively. I tell him no.
"You're gonna get it," he tells me. I tell him he has the wrong idea.
"Oh yeah. You're gonna get it," he says again only quieter. More serious—like I'm about to be punished.
We've driven about two blocks and I'm trying to stay calm, but I'm in a full-blown panic. Does he have a gun? A knife? Something nerdy like nunchucks? I fear that overreacting would send him into a fit of violence. I have to get out of the car at the first possible moment. What if the child lock is on? Is there even child lock on front car doors?
We hit a red light and I open the car door and jump out in the middle of the road. I run across the street and go back to the sidewalk, stunned and processing what just happened. It's not a busy street at this time of day, and Tony pulls the car up next to the sidewalk and starts yelling out at me.
"Why you gotta be like that?!"
He's pleasuring himself through his shorts and driving slowly next to me.
"Oh my God, are you jacking off?" I ask. I'm disgusted. I shouldn't have said anything, but it just came out. Clearly, he was having a good time at my expense. He tells me how much I turn him on. I ignore him and it pisses him off. He wants me to get back in. "How much do you want?!" he yells out in a final attempt to lure me back in before I scurry away. How much do I want? Even if he assumes I'm a hooker, who treats hookers like that? Is that normal? Don't you have to settle on some sort of agreement before you can feel them up?
There is a lesson to be learned in this story somewhere. Don't park at the Harley Davidson Cafe if you're drinking on the Strip is one lesson. I know it's convenient if you're hanging out in the area, but they tow anyone that stays after they close. The other lesson is that most of the health departments around town are only open from Monday through Thursday. I believe only one (maybe two?) is open on Friday. And the third lesson—I think the main one—is never get into a car with a stranger. Even if he's fat and jolly looking. I must have been absent the day they told us that little gem in elementary school.