Hubby recently got into a minor car accident. Although he told me he was okay, naturally, being the panicky sort that I am, I decided to come to the scene. Since there was no car available at the time, and he was about 2.5 miles away from home, I decided to walk it. It wouldn't have been a problem except for the San Fernando Valley heat and pollution which makes an otherwise brisk walk kind of painful. And the fact that there are no sidewalks in most residential areas since the concept of walking is so foreign in L.A.
So there I was, walking along, when a couple of good samaritans stopped by and asked me if I needed a ride. So grateful to escape the scorching sun and be able to reunite with hubby sooner than expected, I jumped in without giving it a second thought. Two minutes later, I reached my destination and waved goodbye fervently to the nice Hispanic couple who had so generously given me a ride.
After ascertaining that hubby was okay, I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. He was also happy to see me but also very worried.
"How could you jump into a car with strangers like that? What if, god forbid... I mean, this is L.A.!"
I looked at him in awe. It had never even occurred to me that these people could be anything other than good samaritans. Then I started laughing.
"Don't worry, I am just way too old to be kidnapped!"
Obviously, I was being very tongue in cheek but think about it. There must be a moratorium on being kidnapped after you reach a certain age. When you're a kid, and even more so when you're a teen-ager or young adult female, you are constantly being warned by everyone, your parents, your older siblings, your teachers, your neighbors, the 6 o'clock news, etc. not to talk to strangers, not to approach strangers and worse of all never ever get into a vehicle with anyone you don't know.
My mom was so paranoid at that fact that even though she let me walk to and from school by myself from the age of seven, she used to warn me never to get in anyone's car. She went so far as to tell me that the devil (sheitan) can take many forms and it might be under the guise of a friendly, familiar face of a man or a woman that they might try to lure me in their car. One day, my friend's dad came to pick her up and asked me if I wanted a ride. This poor man had been a neighbor of ours for years and his daughter and I often had playdates at each other's house. When he offered me the ride, he was with his daughter and two of his other children. Nevertheless, I acted like he had the plague and would under no circumtance get inside. He later joked about it with my mom.
Later, growing up, we heard many awful stories of teenagers being kidnapped and murdered by seemingly pleasant individuals. In Canada, where I spent my teens, the most infamous news story was that of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, a serial rapist/killer couple who looked like Barbie and Ken. And then there were all those tales of date rape drugs being slipped into drinks at bars etc. And then the vogue of serial killer movies that started with Silence of the Lambs and all its clones. I was always so self conscious and vigilant as to be a tightly wound bundle of nerves whenever I went out, whether it was walking into a deserted parking lot, or walking on the street at night, or taking the subway, whatever situation you can think of.
I realized as hubby and I stood there, waiting for the tow truck to arrive, that somewhere along the line, I stopped thinking of myself as a potential target. Maybe this had to do with transferring all that anxiety and paranoia onto my children. Partly, it had to do with being in a state of semi-shock, with my focus being on reaching hubby as fast as possible, that made me unquestioningly accept the ride being offered. Or maybe it simply had to do with aging, and the accompanying physical morphing from a nubile young object of desire into a respectable matronly sort, that made me stop seeing myself as a potential target for a depraved mind.
"Really" I joked "Can you imagine Ted Bundy driving by and taking one look at my post pregnancy gut, my mom jeans, and my ever so attractive geek glasses and thinking to himself, geez, even I can do waaaaayyyyy better than that!"
Sometimes, you are reminded of your old age in the oddest ways...
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