Monday, March 14, 2011

I Don't Think We're in Kenwood Anymore, Toto

You know what's scary? North Minneapolis. I'm still recovering from my brief trip into this neighborhood-less-traveled this weekend. And it's occurred to me that I'm either way too naive or an idiot. It could very well be a combo of the two. On our way to my friend Ally's house this weekend, Geo and I had to make a quick stop at what I thought "looked like a nice enough place". It was this out-of-the-way "Market" that was called Penn-Wood. "Hey!" I piped up happily, "that rhymes with Kenwood," which is the neighborhood we live in. "It's gotta be an okay place". It was NOT okay. Did YOU know that you can buy mugshots at convenience stores? I did not know this, and I'm still not even sure WHY you'd want to do that. My guess is that a lot of the people that frequent places like Penn-Wood are featured in the grainy Glamour Shots and want a copy for their portfolios. I waited patiently in line, oddly it was super busy, desperate not to make eye contact with anyone. Especially the girl buying Swisher Sweets, tinfoil, a giant bag of cheddar popcorn, and what I assumed was a gun or shiv or something. She was screaming on her phone that she "ain't afraid to go to back to jail". I stared in her exact opposite direction at a wall of mugshots.

As soon as I realized I was staring at a wall of pictures of known criminals, I panicked. What if everyone in there thought I was a "narc" or a fine member of law enforcement or something? I immediately dropped my eyes to concentrate aggressively on my fingers and tried to not let anyone see how nervous I was. The place was getting crowded, and the line was moving painfully slow. The girls in front of me were chatting with the clerk about someone named Nookie (not Snookie as I had hoped) who was apparently a dad again, and none too happy about it. "Hurry up! COME ON!" I wanted to say. I fought the reflex to loudly tap my foot and sigh in annoyance at their dawdling like I would normally do, and instead made sure to neither stare at nor avoid the man who had obviously just pocketed a handful of Snickers bars. I found myself wanting to run out of there screaming, but that would probably have caused a scene.

I don't know what goes through my head sometimes. I've never really been the kind of person who makes snap judgments on people or places unless he/she/it smells really bad. That's my only sensory perception that comes in to play. I'm like a dog or something. Penn-Wood didn't smell fishy, so I decided (wrongly) that everything was fine.

I was reminded of when I went apartment shopping by myself after moving home from college. Single girl, suburban born-and-raised, studied in Iowa City, and now wants to be in the "cool" part of a city she's not too familiar with? Sounds like a recipe for complete success, right? Wrong. I came home gushing to my parents about a place I found. I loved it. "First month's rent is FREE!! Can you believe that!?" My dad shuddered, while my mom explained to me that my dream apartment was smack dab in one of the absolute worst parts of the city (but it smelled so bleachy!!) I spent the next few hours driving around with my mom and dad, until we found a place that had locks on the doors, off-street parking, and was closer to a bus stop than a crack house, so that was pretty nice.

Sometimes I scare myself with my total lack of awareness when it comes to situations like this. I give too many people the benefit of the doubt. My mom likes to say I prefer "Reach-In-And-Steal-My-Wallet purses". You know, purses without zippers or other closures. I always shoot back with some excellent retort like, "Who would want to steal MY crap? I almost never carry cash, and I don't even have a checkbook!" Plus, I continue, it's not like I wouldn't be able to tell if someone was elbow-deep in my Kate Spade. Then again, I can't even feel my phone ring when it's in there and on Vibrate. Meh, she may have a point.

In college, we never even locked our doors. You didn't want to HINDER anyone who was willing to show up for a party. Open House! We'd, in fact, prop doors open so people didn't even need to get buzzed in. It seemed like such an unnecessary precaution, so we just found ways around it. Every once in awhile, I'd think of my mom's warnings. She told me a story of the drunk man who used to stumble into her childhood house in the middle of the night. I thought, "Yeah, but that was RHODE ISLAND, and this is IOWA where nothing dangerous ever happens ever. Ugh, it's so boring!" Naive, or idiot? Who can say?

I'm older now, and presumably wiser. So our little field trip on Saturday night really annoyed me. I think it also scarred Geo, seeing as how he'd be the one who I'd expect to save me from a mugging/beating/aggressive questioning of my interest in the wall o' criminals. Alas, we made it out of there and headed to Ally's a little shaky and, hopefully, a lot wiser.

Make that: decidedly not wiser. I literally JUST realized I left my phone at work. And at the risk of being phoneless and alarm-less for fewer than 10 hours, I made the rash decision to go back into downtown Minneapolis - at NIGHT - and retrieve my phone, lest it fall in the wrong hands. I tried to get Geo all excited to come with me and serve as my Protector Against Possible Evil, but he had to play Call of Duty better things to do. So, I went alone and wrapped my keys around my fingers like brass knuckles. Fortunately, I breezed in and out unharmed. But I've decided that I've pushed my luck enough and starting right meow, I'm going to hang out on my own side of the tracks for awhile. I think my mom and dad would be proud - and Geo will definitely be happier.


geo said...

While you may have been comforted by the fact that I was in the car and ready to rescue you at any moment, I was DIScomforted by the fact that you took the car keys with you making my hasty escape in the midst of gun fire impossilbe. Chivalrous I know...

Pharon Square said...

Now you realize why I took the keys with ME....