Visible over the rooftops of many buildings, the glowing steeple of this church shines over an interesting part of town.
The following is scary, sad, and completely true.
I was on my way home one cold February evening when I saw, for about the zillionth time, the beautiful purple glow coming through the windows in this church steeple.
This night, I decided, after years of driving by and thinking to myself, “Gee, that’s beautiful. I should take a photo of that someday,” that someday was today.
Parking in the near-darkness of the “upper Hillside” industrial area (the closest streetlamp was only dimly flickering), I balanced my camera on the roof of the car and began my attempts to “collect the ambiance” of the steeple’s lights.
I’d frame my shot, hit the shutter, wait for the light to flow into the lens, wait some more while the chip processed the information, re-frame for my next shot, and start the process again.
Now, it’s about 8:30 pm, in a quiet-ish area nearly two miles from the downtown core, and two blocks in any direction from any main roads, so it’s relatively quiet.
Which is why the voice that called out to me gave me such a start.
“You gonna be there long?”
I’m not a big fan of random stranger-talk. There’s “‘scuse me,” when stepping in front of people at the theatre. There’s “Ma’am, you dropped this!” when being a good Samaritan. And, there’s “Hi” and “Thank you” to store employees when entering and exiting their place o’ wares.
These examples of stranger-talk are socially acceptable, and pretty obvious.
This question — “You gonna be there long?” — clearly, had a different tone. It was more forward than it needed to be. It was projected in a slightly-louder-than-speaking voice from across the street, directly at me. It was out of place.
“No. I’ll just be a few minutes,” I said, snapping off another shot while quickly checking to see if I was in this lady’s spot or something.
But that couldn’t be, could it? There hadn’t been any car door slams or engine revs that I’d heard in the few minutes I’d been there. It’s like she came out of nowhere.
Or possibly . . . like she’d been hanging around for a while.
My brain was just starting to click some pieces into place when:
“You want some company?”
Ah. Right. Like a brick house filled to the brim with my life’s naïveté, it hit me.
Far from the core though I was, I had stopped — and stepped out of my car — in a neighbourhood frequented by prostitutes.
“Ummmmno, but thanks.”
Why in the hell my brain tacked on something so monumentally stupid as BUT THANKS to the end of a sentence that should’ve been two letters long, I’ll never understand.
Mortified beyond all reason due to my ignorance of the situation, I quickly finished up my last shot, quietly opened the car door, stealthily slithered into the driver’s seat, calmly belted up while hitting the lock to the “down” position in one smooth motion, and beetled the hell outta there like a moron.
It was kinda like being in that Tragically Hip song, “38 Years Old,” except that I’m 33, and have kissed a girl.
I’ve just never been propositioned by one.