Today is June 24, 2021. We’re just in the first week of summer, and I already am sunburnt. This weekend the temperature is expected to hit over 100° Fahrenheit. Yes, here in the glorious Emerald City, in June.
Regardless, June is a great month for grilling (ok, maybe not this weekend). One of my favorites is grilled peaches. Find some freestone peaches, cut them in half and get rid of the pit, oil them a bit, and put them on a hot grill. I do cut side down first, then flip them over and move them off direct heat so juices can accumulate in the little well. After they are nice and soft and smokey I let them cool down, slice them, and stir in some dessert wine vinegar or good balsamic.
Speaking of peaches. Maybe about nine years ago one of my students in the six-week self-defense course came to class beaming. She got to use some of what she learned. She was grocery shopping in the early evening. She was picking out some nice peaches, ripe ones, ready to eat. As she contemplated her choices, she felt an odd sensation, like someone standing right behind her. There was someone standing behind her. She glanced over her shoulder, and described to us in the class a man, kind of tall and wide. He was wearing a faded T shirt and sweatpants. She thought he hadn’t bothered combing his hair before leaving his house. The image of Jabba the Hut popped into my head.
She then took a look at the cart next to him. What would Jabba the Hut eat? Beer. Pretzels. Chips. Beer. Twinkies. Did I say beer?
A little voice in her head whispered, “He’s not here for the peaches.”
My student said that before taking this class she would have made herself smaller, said in a soft yet high-pitched voice “oh, am I in your way, I’m so sorry!” She would have slinked away, without ever having looked at his face. She decided to do different.
She extended her elbows so they were sticking out to the sides. Then she turned. He was so close that one elbow got him in the ribs. Not hard, but just enough to make him take a step back. Then she looked him in the face and said, in a voice just loud enough for anyone in the produce section to hear, “Oh, you were standing so close!”
Did you notice what she did NOT say? I’ll tell you at the end.*
She could tell he was angry. And other people in the produce section were staring at them. So he just glared, grabbed his cart, and huffed away.
Just about as soon as he left, she felt twinges of regret. What if she was wrong? What if he wasn’t simply trying to harass her? She fretted as she continued shopping.
But just a few minutes later he was back. He didn’t see her, but she sure noticed him. And she saw him do the SAME THING to two other women. One woman was selecting green beans, and the other strawberries. Both of those women did what she said she would have done, made themselves smaller, apologized for taking up space in a public grocery store, and slinked away. Did he then avail himself of the green beans and strawberries? No.
By the time she found the store manager, it was too late. He had checked out and gone.
She decided that she’s spend more time practicing with and trusting her instincts.
So she’d be better able to stay safe and live life. You too can do that.
[*Oh, right, she did not say “sorry.”]