A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.
By Nina Pajak
A suspect has been arrested in the mysterious case of the East Side groper, it seems. Finally! Somehow, this little twerp has been molesting women for the last seven months without getting nabbed. I can’t understand it. When the perp is under 5-feet tall and clocks in at a whopping 120 pounds, it seems like anyone around who wasn’t stunned from having just been assaulted should have been able to grab him by his belt loops and hang him on the coat rack of the nearest police station. I keep seeing the flyers and reading the articles and thinking what I imagine that lots of ladies in this city have been thinking: Lemme at him.
In fact, just this morning, before I saw the news of his arrest, I was thinking just that. On my subway ride into work, I found myself imagining a scenario in which he tries to approach me—yeah, just try it, punk—and I put a death grip on him and scream bloody murder until someone goes and gets a cop. I’m not ashamed to say that I outweigh him (not by a lot, okay?) and I would simply relish the opportunity to kick him in the nuts.
Naturally, this is not how it would actually happen. I know because I have had my own experience with a subway creepazoid, and I forever regret the way I handled it.
It happened last year, around this time. I was on my way to work in my favorite white jeans, crammed onto a repulsively crowded subway car as I am on so many unremarkable mornings. We were like sardines. I was happily listening to a podcast and playing a fine game of iPod solitaire when I suddenly became aware of something unusual going on with the sardine behind me. He was pressed up against me like we all were, but I felt something odd. And specific. Very specific.
Horrified, I slowly turned my head around and looked down. And there it was. Unmistakable, though it was gone in a flash. I gasped loudly and jumped away, parting a tightly-packed crowd of people. I looked around me to see if anyone had noticed. A few people looked at me with sympathetic glances, but maybe I was imagining that. The pervert in question was acting like nothing at all had happened, though I caught him checking his fly. I spent the next two to three minutes trying to convince myself that I wasn’t going insane. Or maybe I was? But I wasn’t! I know what I saw! But really? Maybe I hallucinated it. But why would I hallucinate such a thing? I wouldn’t, and I didn’t! By the time I’d mustered up the courage of my conviction, the doors had opened and he was gone. I was a little relieved to see him disappear forever until I realized I couldn’t really remember what he looked like. My only opportunity for justice had disappeared into the 59th street subway station. Fie.
I should have yelled! I should have said, “Grab that pervert!” I should have confronted him the instant it happened and taught him a lesson he wouldn’t soon forget! I should have whirled around and slammed his face into the doors and made an action hero quip like, “stand clear of the closing doors.” Instead, I went to work and stood at my desk until 10 a.m., when I ran to the Gap to buy a pair of emergency replacement pants so I could wash the cooties out of my jeans. Fail.
Of course, several of the women the East Side pee wee groper attacked did fight and succeed, and it’s commendable that they were able to defend themselves. I wouldn’t expect someone who had just been assaulted to have the presence of mind to also capture her attacker. Getting him far, far away is priority one. But since I have all these pent-up feelings of injustice (my least favorite feeling), I have become convinced that I could take on the next sucker who tries to mess with me. I’m glad the NYPD finally did the dirty work for me this time, but I’m ready for the next loser who can’t get a date.
I just have to resist the urge to start wearing a cape. Or how about, cape is okay, but no face mask. Or maybe just not at the same time? We’ll talk. I’ll figure it out. In the meantime, creeps beware. You all know I’ve been working out.
Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.
Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.
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