We here at Lady Bromance are city girls through and through. It’s not just the Wild that sometimes frightens us, it’s the eerie silence of a small town (that you just know has dark secrets), or the unsettling emptiness of a suburban street (where you just know something’s about to go down). So you might imagine that we don’t handle being alone in a big house very well. Especially if it’s in a place where the population is fewer than the number of attendees at our universities.
Maybe it’s because everything we know about small towns we learned from shows like “Twin Peaks.” Maybe it’s because horror movies rarely take place in big cities. Whatever the reason, small towns bring out big-time paranoia in us and we’ve had to adapt by creating these tried-and-true tactics for home (and property) defense.
The Barricade Method
As any good movie buff knows, when a dog barks persistently in a movie, something awful is right around the corner. So when Jayne and I house-sat a large, beautiful villa, complete with it’s own loveable dog-friend (#LivermoreNeverForget), we knew this dog was the only thing that stood between us and the serial killer who was quietly treading the path to the house RIGHT THE HELL NOW.
The great thing about the place where we were staying was that it was at the top of a hill and provided unobstructed views of all the neighboring hills. The terrible part was that at night it offered unobstructed views into the terrifying darkness of a rural night. Everywhere we looked there was utter darkness outside, and even with the outdoor lamps on you couldn’t see beyond their weak glow. So when the dog started barking obsessively at something outside one night, we knew that the end had come. At this point, a reasonable human being might ask, “Wait, so, it was dark and the dog was barking? That’s it?” Yes, dear reader. That’s it. The dog was barking mysteriously into the darkness, possibly communicating with the darkness, or probably warning us of something that lurks within. If that’s not enough for you then I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS.
And Jayne and I reacted like normal, reasonable human beings. We called the dog in, locked all the doors and windows, turned on all the lights, and huddled in the living room staring outside at the direction the dog had barked. Maybe it was our quick thinking or maybe it was the fact that we had begun summoning all the gods and deities to save us in that desperate moment, but something stopped that poltergeist-serial-killer-rapist from entering the house.
The Big Angry Boyfriend Method
You’re home alone in a big house full of things people might theoretically want to steal when you hear a knock on the door. The only other person there, for all her spunk, doesn’t strike a menacing figure (unless you start talking crap about Johnny Cash. Them’s fightin’ words). You’re not expecting anyone and this person has gotten past the locked gate. Sure, on the one hand, robbers don’t tend to knock on the door politely. But on the other hand, THEY’RE EVERYWHERE AT ALL TIMES. What to do?
Well, the first step is to exaggerate the menace and quickly let your wildest fears snowball. What a moment ago was only a humble thief has become a serial killer (you, again!) who knows you’re home and wants to lock you in the wine cellar, perhaps next to that lovely old cask of Amontillado.
Instead of, say, peering through the glass to see who it is, you immediately begin to rush past each other back and forth in a panic, breathlessly creating fictional MMA-fighting boyfriends who are “just in the next room,” presumably sharpening their favorite hunting knives because massive ‘roid rage has given them insatiable bloodlust, while your rabid pitbull has developed a taste for human flesh and can’t be controlled. After a few minutes perfecting the completely plausible story, you finally give in and open the door… Only to find the smiling gardener who needs to know if the owner left instructions for picking the grapes. “No? Oh, ok. Have a nice day!”
Call for backup
One night, among the terrifying darkness lurking outside, we heard voices. They were distant, but they were definitely on our property. Obviously, the killer was back with friends. We paced around nervously, checking and double-checking to make sure we really heard it and when the voices didn’t go away, we did the only thing we could think of–we called the cops. Or, cop. Because as we were promptly informed, there was 1 (one) cop patrolling that entire county…and he was busy at the moment. His exact words were, “Aw, geez. It’ll take me 20 minutes to get out there.” To which we repeated that there were a bunch of PEOPLE on our PROPERTY. Probably, nay, definitely doing something illegal (besides trespassing). The cop sighed, mumbled something about checking it out, and (we’re pretty sure) never actually showed up.
Hoard the weapons
Year 2 of our annual writing retreats took us to a different small town where our apartment was on the ground floor. Living in a city, we’ve come to expect a first-floor window to be barricaded by iron bars because otherwise you’d have an infestation of crazy people climbing in yo’ window and snatchin’ yo’ people up.
In this town, where the single worst thing we witnessed was an unknown car parked on our street (which the cops came out to investigate en masse), there are no bars. And you’d think we’d find that comforting. But no. Instead, both Jayne and I grabbed knives from the kitchen and kept them on our bedstands. A fact neither of us realized the other was doing until we both noticed an extra knife missing from the wooden block.
Think of the children
I have grown rather fond of my car. When someone hurts it, they hurt me. Sometimes literally, because I’m in the car, but always figuratively because my car is awesome.
So when a bunch of clumsy tweeny girls were violently throwing a volleyball around where my car was parked, I knew it was a matter of time before a window got smashed or a dent mysteriously appeared on its beautiful body.
I could have done the adult thing and gone outside and asked them to play elsewhere. But instead, I decided to teach them a lesson (read: avoid confrontation). I waited until the ball flew into the carport where my car was parked. When one of them went to retrieve it, as soon as she stepped inside the carport next to my car, I hit the panic button on my car key and enjoyed the sound of my shrieking alarm causing the girls to flee like a herd of gazelle in the savannah.
I’ve often suspected that I’m actually a curmudgeonly old man on the inside. But I don’t care. Nobody touches my car.
So, dear readers, take heed from our words and remember: DANGER LURKS EVERYWHERE.