Lately I’ve been experiencing a very strong urge to take off my clothes, jump out my window, and run off into the night naked.
After sitting in my room with the lights off for a time, though, I always realize that this would eventually leave me standing in broad daylight, very tired, and still naked. So I stay in my room and write, instead.
Last night this urge to disappear into the night reached near-unbearable proportions. The urge to be naked, on the other hand, was at a perfectly controllable level. So wearing my pajama pants and a silk shirt, I slipped out my window at around 12:30am and went for a walk. This was mostly uneventful. At about one am a mouse ran out of a gutter as I was walking over it. I looked at the mouse. The mouse stopped and looked at me. We walked next to each other for a few feet, then he turned and crossed the street. I talked to him a bit as well, giving him helpful advice like, “Skirt to the side of the road when traffic comes.” At this point I realized I must look rather insane, walking around in my pajamas at one am, talking to mice in the moonlight.
A few minutes later I noticed a man walking up the sidewalk from the direction I was headed. This meant, inevitably, we would have to step past each other. Getting that close to strange men in the middle of the night when there’s no one else around makes me a bit nervous, but by the time I noticed him it was far too late to change course, so I continued my leisurely pace.
When we were about two feet away from each other the man looked at me and said, “Got any cigarettes?”
“Nah,” I said, “Sorry.”
At the moment the word “sorry” left my mouth, our shoulders could not have been more than one inch apart. The man glanced down and noticed my bare feet as we passed one another. A look of confusion passed over his brow.
He glanced over his shoulder as I continued on my way and said, “Where you goin’, you ain’t got no shoes on.”
As it was late and I hadn’t quite caught all the words he spoke, I decided that stopping, facing the man, and giving him a very large shrug would suffice in lieu of a verbal response. This having been accomplished, I turned around and continued walking.
“Hey,” he hollered after me. “You alright?”
I turned towards him again. “Yeah!” I shouted. “I’m good.”
This seemed to satisfy him, as he didn’t inquire after me again, and I didn’t look back as I continued on my way. I got home without further incidents, clambered through my window, and went to bed.
And I was grinning ear to ear from the time it took me to get from the man who asked me about my lack of shoes back to my window, because isn’t it fantastic that in this world, you can run into strangers in the middle of the night and they’ll ask if you’re alright instead of trying to mug you? Most of the time, people are alright.