October 26, 2015

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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, “€œWhat’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.

“€œSuch is life in a big city teeming with biodiversity.”€

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.

“€œUh”€”hi?”€ I said to them.

My new unwanted friend stopped alongside with me.

“€œI 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, “€œAre you OK, sir?”€

He nodded in the affirmative.

“€œThis 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 “€œcops,”€ my pedestrian stalker bolted back in the direction whence we”€™d come.

I apologized to the girls. “€œI”€™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 “€œsoft mugging,”€ which is a term for when homeless people attach themselves to you and won”€™t leave until you give them some money.


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