Having escaped a dreadful convention lunch with the flutist, my rag tag gang of temporary friends decided to go explore the huge immigrant march going on 2 blocks away. I opted to check my e-mail and call into work, agreeing to meet up with everyone for second sessions and roundtable discussions.
But the time Round Table discussions rolled around, no one was feeling it.
“I’m going for a lay down.” whined Peter. “I’ll end up at some table with a bunch of stupids who won’t shut up.”
“It looks like everyone’s bailing on the round table discussions.”
“I’m going to the Coffee Bean.” I offered. “Anyone want to come?”
Deemed a ‘bad influence’, Erin decided to come with me, but only if we could have an adventure. “Let’s go to Little Tokyo! It’s only 6 or 7 blocks away. We just have to walk through the immigrant march, but it’s dying down anyway.”
Little Tokyo it is.
Let me just create a visual for you, so you understand how we almost died.
Erin is Canadian, so one really can’t get any whiter than Erin. She’s short and spunky and obliviously unafraid of strangers. And I was dressed they way you’d imagine me to dress when I’ve decided I’m on a fabulous solo business trip. So, I pretty much looked like a corporate drag queen. And thus, we entered the ‘winding down’ immigrant march. By the time we got there, the march was pretty much over, but the streets were still packed with an array of drunk gang members and insane hobos. Half a block into it, we started to get scared.
Really, really scared.
As we walked along, Erin looked at me. “You okay?”
“Please, Erin. I’m big city.”
Men in doorways started sneering at us, making lewd gestures. The solidarity vibe was long over, the mood on the streets now much more aggressive and sinister. Suddenly, a deranged hobo pushing a cart full of empty recyclables races up to me. Sticking his face about half an inch from mine, I get a good look at his ONE tooth (lower level, a little to the left) before he screamed directly at me, “EAT THAT PUSSY!”
When I say I screamed, I mean it. I fucking screamed.
Oh but wait. It gets better. With that, a man in a doorway wearing a Mexican flag as a diaper throws a plastic bottle, hitting one tooth in the head. This was followed by a smattering of applause and snickers.
At this point, I picked up the pace, Erin struggling to catch up. “Oh my god, Beth. Are you okay?”
“Are you shitting me?”
We had a good block and a half to get through before getting the hell out of the demilitarized zone, and I cannot begin to describe how terrified I was.
With that, a group of 10 or so bandana clad hooligans, 2 of whom were carrying SCREWDRIVERS, packed together and blocked the sidewalk in front of us.
“This is it.” I thought. “I have a wallet, digital camera, cell phone, and am clad in gaudy designer knock-offs. I am dead. And someone will have to tell my family. There is no way I can get myself out of this one. I will be the cautionary tell of the Millennium Biltmore.”
A quiet peace befell me, as I clutched my handbag and balanced on my stilettos. I’ve lived a good life. I’ve known love and loss. I’ve seen 3 wonders of the world. I’ve touched Gavin Newsom. My only regret is that I was unable to produce my own memorial video montage.
Erin came up behind me. “We’ve got to move. Now.”
And that, folks, is when I ran.
With Erin behind me, I broke into a sprint in the middle of Broadway, dashing between gang members and looking straight ahead. This was not a brisk walk. This wasn’t even a jog. We were officially running.
And people laughed.
Someone may have even thrown bottles at us. I can’t be sure. I refused to stop and look around. We aimed for a side street and dashed off the main drag, catching our breath within the safety of a security guarded RiteAid.
Erin and I looked at each other. “Okay, we almost died.”
“I know. Oh my god, Erin. I can’t believe that just happened.”
Finally safe, we agreed to get iced lattes and watch hotel movies, and Erin and I finally laughed.
“We are no longer disposable friends. Erin. I’ve never been so scared in my life.”
Erin giggled. “Big city, eh?”