I’m in the park, comfortably lying on a blanket in the grass, writing my diary and listening to music, when I suddenly hear distant yelling. “Take a picture of me!!” And “Hey, Miss! Miss!” I do what every New Yorker does when they’re faced with crazy yelling: act like you ignore it, but be aware and watch out. I turn off the music and observe from behind my sunglasses. I see a very angry and very sweaty dude coming towards me. He is yelling and wildly gesticulating at me but at the same time he seems to be talking to someone behind me. I turn and see a guy sitting in a straight line behind me in the grass (no blanket or anything), and he says: “He’s talking to you, Miss.” Now I have no choice but to look at the sweaty guy and acknowledge the crazy yelling. And there he is already, like a sweaty bulldozer, and he screams at the guy behind me: “Stop taking pictures of her ass!”
Aha, so that’s what’s happening here.
The alleged ass photographer defends himself with: “Are you crazy?” and “Check my phone if you don’t believe me!” But bulldozer won’t let it go. He keeps yelling at the photographer guy, towering over him, sweat and spit flying as he tells him off and calls him a pervert and creep.
Meanwhile I look back and forth between the two screamers like I’m at the US Open and think: “Oh, please stop yelling and please don’t kill each other”. (In the last few months I’ve had way too much time to catch up on Netflix series which all involved a great deal of violence in New York City: Daredevil, The Following, Jessica Jones … brutal!)
I am too surprised to react adequately. My first thought is “What do I care if my ass is this guy’s screensaver?” But that’s the wrong way of looking at it. I care about fools like him getting away with shit like that. I worry about fools like him taking it to the next level on another occasion, maybe a comment at first, then an innocent looking touch, than a grab, and before you know it you got yourself another Brock. So yes, I do care if my ass is this guy’s screensaver. At the moment though I’m confused and speechless, and I worry that these guys will get violent with me in the middle, so regrettably I don’t do what I should, which is to get up, check this guy’s phone, and tell him to fuck off.
The ass photographer finally starts his retreat, not without a tirade of name-calling where he calls the bulldozer a pervert (for his thoughts), a low-life, a broken man, an asshole, and worse. While the yelling and abusive language continues I’m not able to get my “Thank you” in and when there’s finally silence and bulldozer is back with his friend on the hill, I think it’s perhaps better this way. I try to gather my thoughts (now I have a whole new story to write in my diary after all!) when I suddenly hear him yell again from afar.
He comes back over and he angrily asks: “You aren’t even gonna thank me?!”
“Hell yeah, I meant to. But how could I when you two are going at it like this?”
He smiles, apparently relieved that I’m not an ungrateful bitch.
I say: “I appreciate you looking out for me, man,” and we shake hands. Now his friend, previously in underwear but currently dressed, comes over too and we chat and reminisce about the recent action.
Underwear-man watched the creepy photographer set himself up to take photos from an angle slightly below me on the hill. Now I get angry. I’m wearing my pajamas (yes, on a Saturday afternoon, it’s a long story), which consist of a loose fitting Nirvana t-shirt and loose black shorts – nothing crazy, nothing terribly revealing. And here is this man in his tight undies and he doesn’t have a creepy ass photographer positioned behind him now, does he? I’m in a public park in a free country and I shouldn’t have to worry about creeps following my pajama-d ass around.
Anyway, back to the reminiscing. Underwear-man is sunbathing when bulldozer-guy finishes his run and comes over to meet up with his buddy underwear-man.
“We watch people in the park, it’s what we do,” bulldozer explains to me. “There’s so many weird people around, you know?” Yes, I know. I watch them too, and then I write about them in my diary. “So I asked A., hey buddy, what’s new? And A. here tells me about this creepy guy that he’s been watching for a while.”
At that moment, creepy photographer, feeling the piercing looks on him, looked over his shoulder and spotted bulldozer and underwear-man, but it was already too late for him to get away with his crime because my ass-defender jumped into action right away.
While we’re talking about the recent events, another guy comes over and congratulates my guys on their good deed.
“When I saw you go at the guy I was like oh right, that’s what he’s doing! Now I put 2 and 2 together, y’know?”
And I’m the idiot with the ass who didn’t notice a goddamn thingy.
So that’s how my ass brought us all together. I finally learn their names (A. and C.) and a whole lot more about them. Turns out, underwear-man is dating a woman from Feldkirch (30 minutes from my hometown in Austria) who teaches at Cambridge and whom he’ll meet in Poland next week. What are the odds? And bulldozer-guy was married to a German woman for many years. Underwear-man works as a NYC tour guide and takes tourists around in the side-car of his motorbike. He also has a room for rent in Crown Heights which bulldozer guy praises and wants me to rent. That weirds me out a bit because all of a sudden everyone looks like a pervert-suspect to me. But they aren’t, they’re just being friendly, and when they finally say their good-byes I feel silly for doubting them. I take A.’s card and properly thank C. for the public shaming on my behalf.
Before they take off, bulldozer asks me: “So you come to the park often, B.?”
“Then I’ll see you around. I’ll be right over there!” He grins and points to the spot where the pervert had sat.
I laugh. “That’s perfect because that’s exactly where I need my bootyguard to be at all times!”
(Brooklyn, New York. September 2016.)