Last Tuesday night I was walking down a poorly lit Brooklyn street en route to meet a friend for dinner when suddenly I noticed a black male strolling alongside me.
He wasn”t walking ahead of me or behind me”he was about three feet to my right as if we were best pals and we”d been walking together the whole time. At first I presumed it was a coincidence”that we merely happened to be going the same speed and that within a half-block, one of us would pull ahead of the other and that would be the end of it.
A block later, I tried crossing the street merely to shake him. He stayed glued to my side. After another whole block, I stopped, looked him straight in the eyes, and said, “What’s going on here? Why are you following me?”
He stopped along with me. His glazed eyes looked straight into mine. He didn”t say a word. He only nodded in the affirmative, even though I hadn”t asked him a yes-or-no question.
So I crossed the street again, and he crossed with me, stuck to my side like a Siamese twin. Oh, sorry”a Nigerian twin, maybe?
He was walking alongside me so deliberately that I suspected he was a designated escort leading me into some sort of ambush.
I knew I had suddenly found myself in a potentially dangerous situation, but I wasn”t sweating and my heart wasn”t pumping any faster. I have this personality quirk where I”m neurotic as Woody Allen when there’s no clear and present danger, but when there’s an immediate risk of dying, I”m cold, calm, and calculating.
I kept him in my visual periphery and breathed deeply as I remembered all the joint locks and leg sweeps I”d learned in martial-arts classes. At one point I reached inside my denim jacket to pantomime that I was concealing a gun, then I pulled my hand out quickly when I realized that if he actually was toting a pistol, I might have been signing my death warrant by reaching for a gun that wasn”t there.
After more than three blocks of this creepy urban polar bear hunt, I walked up to a pair of young hipstery girls who were closing up shop and locking the doors to their bakery.
“Uh”hi?” I said to them.
My new unwanted friend stopped alongside with me.
“I know this is weird,” I continued to the pale-as-bakery-dough girls, “but this guy’s been following me for about a half-mile and I don”t know what to do here. I asked him what’s going on, and he wouldn’t even say anything.”
One of them looked at my walking companion and asked, “Are you OK, sir?”
He nodded in the affirmative.
“This is weird, right?” I asked the girls, and they nodded in the affirmative.
They asked me whether they should unlock the bakery and allow me to wait inside until he vamoosed. I said he”d probably simply keep waiting, plus I didn”t think they should be forced to wait along with me. I also said that I didn”t like cops and didn”t want to get the cops involved.
At the mention of the word “cops,” my pedestrian stalker bolted back in the direction whence we”d come.
I apologized to the girls. “I”m really sorry to have bothered you, but you were the only sign of civilization around here.”
When I met my friend for dinner and told him what happened, he speculated that I was being set up for a “soft mugging,” which is a term for when homeless people attach themselves to you and won”t leave until you give them some money.