after eight years in new york it finally happened. we got mugged. it was different than i imagined. i never imagined it happening in the daylight. i never imagined a mugger in his 40s. and i never imagined it happening while my kids played games around our feet.
i stared at his painted-on beard, at the upper lip filling the gaps where his teeth should have been, at his long brown coat, at the half smoked cigarette in his left hand as his right held the partially concealed revolver. he needed money. he had kids. he loved kids. our kids were beautiful. he didn't want to hurt them. he didn't want to shoot us. but he had $900 rent due. he needed $900. he wouldn't go to a shelter. he wouldn't put his kids on the street. he needed $900. please. he didn't want to kill our kids. he loves kids.
i searched my pockets. i had $0.75, maybe $0.80. i had a $20 watch. i took it off and handed it over. he didn't want change. he needed $900. what were we going to do for him? he had no choice. i fished some more. another quarter. chip shifted charlie and pulled out his wallet. i stared at that beard. was it shoe polish? was it a disguise or just to look good? was that gun real? it looked too small to be real. i was calm. i calmly told him to chill out. but i was also irritated, really irritated. chip handed over the wallet, empty of cash, full of credit cards and id's. i wanted the id. he would mail it to us. i wanted to get it now, i didn't think he didn't need my husband's license. he'd put it in the mail. i persisted. he raised his voice. don't push it, lady. i didn't. my hands went up. he told us to go to our apartment. "go inside mama." he didn't want to hurt no one. he just wanted to go. we just wanted it to be over. it finally was.
i went inside to cancel credit cards. chip pulled out his phone to call 911. "no! you only call 911 if there's an emergency!" eve cried. they had no idea what had just happened as they giggled and played and we talked with the man in the doorway.
i always imagined being scared, too scared to scream, too scared to think. but i wasn't. strangely, i was not scared at all, only irritated. maybe because chip was at my side or maybe because the man kept shifting his body so the girls wouldn't see the gun. maybe because he seemed affected, almost tortured when he first saw eve's face. maybe i believed him. or maybe i've been in new york long enough. or maybe i just couldn't believe what was happening, that his man was mugging a family of five, my family of five.
police came, chip went to the precinct, detectives were assigned. i dreamt about him all night and awoke remembering every detail of his face. i left to the suburbs for a happily pre-planned overnight stay. chip got a call at work. a kind stranger found his wallet and called his credit card companies to contact him. everything was there, except the metro card and his driver's license. maybe the mugger put it in the mail after all. or maybe he took it out to spite me. . . who knows.
how's that for heavy fare? but, after the many many talks with the girls about the choices we make, taking responsibility for those choices and controlling our emotions, we're back to our usual business. . . like making a scarf in commemoration of our group mugging experience. one four inch wide strip cut from black and white striped knit and wrapped around neck. not one stitch of sewing. i'm certain i made this in less time than the mugging lasted. . and don't worry, the girls don't know what this is "in memory of," that's my little secret. . .