The first time I see him, he is leaning against his work van, watching me intently. I'm taking out the trash, doing my best to ignore him. He starts to whistle some dumb tune as a way to get my attention. I'm in my robe. I don't want an audience. His whistle gets increasingly louder.
Do you think I’m a fucking dog? Do you think if you keep whistling, I’ll jump up on your lap and lick your face? I’m obviously paying no attention to you, moron.
The second time I see him, I'm putting mail in the mailbox, several hours later. He is sitting in his van, with a sloppy sandwich in his hand, biting into it like an animal.
He makes some grunting sound, as he chews and watches me, as if he'd like to eat me for lunch. As if, by eating the sandwich, he can almost taste me. I, in turn, feel nauseous.
"I think the mailman already came by," he shouts, his mouth half full of food.
Again, I ignore him. The mailman didn't come by. I know the sounds of the mailman. I know the shuffling of his feet on the sidewalk, the slamming of my mailbox. I know the dull noises that make up my daily existence.
Why? Why does he have to be out here again? The only two times I've left the house today and I have to deal with a slimy plumber boring holes through me? Why do I leave the house at all? I should become a professional shut-in.
But I can't. At least not today. It's Tuesday and I have to teach writing class. I have to break out of my shell and interact with people. The shell gets thicker the longer you stay inside. It becomes too heavy, too big, too comfortable. The shell becomes you.
I dress up for class a little. Present myself. It's important. To polish yourself and look good sometimes. I look in the mirror and realize, in a detached way, that I look pretty today. I play with my face like a doll. Paint her eyes, paint her mouth. Comb her hair and let her smile. A good feeling sweeps over me. I put on my coat and walk out the door.
He's not there, the man working across the street. His van is still there but he's not there. Good. If he sees me looking pretty, he'll only harass me more. His libido has obviously become more important than my privacy.
I run to the car and start it up, looking down at my lap the whole time. After a moment, I put the car into gear. I look up and there he is, magically, next to his van once again, staring directly at me again. A bomb starts ticking. My passivity, my muteness, is quickly turning into rage. This time I return his stare.
He starts waving his fat arms wildly at me. All of his pathetic attempts to get my attention haven't been properly rewarded, so he's resorted to this garish, ridiculous gesture.
I shut off the car, open my car door and get out.
“What the fuck
is your problem?” My voice sounds like a man's, bellowing, deep. Like it climbed out of the depths of my bowels.
“I’m just trying to say hello.”
“And I’m obviously trying not to.”
“Well, that’s not very nice,” he laughs.
“Yeah, well it’s not very nice being sexually harassed on my own fucking property. I live here. I LIVE HERE
“Sexually harassed, ha!”
“Yeah, its real funny, isn’t it?”
“Just trying to be friendly.” He throws the cigarette on the lawn and stomps it out.
I get ready to get back in the car. I’m shaking. Not finished.
“No you weren’t. You weren’t trying to be friendly. Don’t fool yourself.”
“You got a problem. You got a real problem, lady,” he laughs dismissively and walks away.
I want to show him my problem. I want to show him my real problem. Because mere words don’t do my problem justice. My problem could wrap around his fat neck and squeeze so tightly, his veins pop. My problem could grab the last greasy few strands of hair on his sweaty head and slam him into his underused work van. My problem could be the last thing he sees.
Instead, I'm left standing there, in the middle of the street, quiet rage all over my nice outfit. I hear him whistling inside the house. The mailman pulls up and takes the mail.
You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet."
~ Franz Kafka