Having somehow determined that it made sense to walk outside for a quick breath of fresh air at 1:10 AM, I decided to sit down on the benches by 34th & Lexington. There are several pretty green benches there, and I thought that if I sat down on one of them, that would be pleasant. I was playing with my hair and singing a bit when I see a figure walking toward me. It's a man about my age, perhaps a little older, who is actually very nice-looking, and is wearing jeans, a Mets t-shirt and a sweater. I expect that he'll pass me by, but instead he comes over to me and gives me his hand. There is nothing else to do, so I shake it.
MAN: And what's your name, my dear?
ME: (trembling) Ol-livia.
ME: (having stood up, poised to make a frantic escape) Lydia.
MAN: Lydia? Pleasure to meet you, my dear. Pleasure to meet you. (He steps in closer to me.) And what are you doing this fine evening?
ME: Me? I'm- I'm walking.
MAN: Let me accompany you on your way.
ME: Oh-I-I have to get back. (He steps in closer and I visibly startle, and jump.)
MAN: No worries, dear; I'm just walking your way. (He follows me as I walk up 34th and Lexington toward my dorm. I start walking faster.) Hey, hey, hey, darling, why are you walking so fast?
ME: (slows down, takes a deep breath- not a good idea to offend the potential rapist, aside from which, it's a couple days before Rosh Hashana, so if God wants something to happen me, and it's going to happen tonight, that's God's affair. But I trust Him, so hopefully I'm okay. I just have to talk my way out of this one, despite the fact that I am scared to death.) Okay, I'm sorry. I'll slow down. (I stop outside the 245 Building, where I am in clear sight of the Stern guard, who unfortunately doesn't notice my silent distress signals, and proceed to have the strangest conversation of my life.)
MAN: So I'm an Irish Catholic. You're a Jew, right?
MAN: And how are your studies going?
ME: Oh...well, they're not really. I mean, I'm kind of down. What about you?
MAN: (laughs) So I don't really study so much anymore. (pause) So I respect religion in your life. I'm a fucking Irish Catholic and we believe in the fucking Pope and all. (He leans closer, and I can smell the alcohol on his breath. I'm doomed.) You're a Jew, so for better or for worse, your religion is more strict than mine. (He is unintelligible now; I can't understand him.) We've got a language barrier problem, I can see. I'm from Brooklyn, you know.
ME: Brooklyn cops are the worst.
MAN: Yeah, well, my uncle was a cop in the Manhattan police force, so...
MAN: Anyway, have you ever heard of existentialism?
ME: (The Rav!) Um..it's philosophy or something like that, right?
(The Man now proceeds to regale me with his explanation of how we each perceive the world differently based on our backgrounds. This would all be fine, except he keeps on moving closer to me, touches me on the shoulder sometimes, and I can smell the alcohol on his breath. We continue this conversation and we note that I am apparently not accepting of sterotypes of Irish Catholics, and he tells me that I shouldn't think badly of him just because he's had a couple drinks, because he is not actually drunk. This because I decided to invoke the quote from "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" where two kids are raised by an alcoholic; one of them becomes an alcoholic while the other never touches the bottle, and so they both had the same experience, but they made different choices. He thinks that those are two extremes and we need to walk the middle road- the shevil ha'zahav, though he doesn't say it that way. He explains to me he knows my position is unsavory; he's just a guy from the streets and I am a girl, and he considerately steps back when he sees I get scared when he comes too close to me- which means when he is touching my shoulder, or is otherwise almost in my face.)
MAN: What about you?
ME: Me? Well- I like the night. I find that everything is more- intense- at night.
MAN: (proceeds to explain to me exactly what I mean by things being intense at night)
ME: Well, thank you for your very profound and articulate explanation- I'll just be getting back now.
MAN: I'll walk you back.
(He walks me to my dorm. I ask him where he's going to spend the night, and he says he doesn't know, but he's used to fending for himself. Usually he spends the night at his place, but he's not up to doing that now. He works at a bar called "Third and Long." I tell him that unfortunately I can't have guests at the dorm, and he says he understands. He walks me almost to the door and then I shake his hand goodbye.)
MAN: (opening his arms and stepping forward a bit; again, I can smell the drink on his breath) Give me a kiss goodbye on the cheek?
ME: (squeamish, backing away) No...no, I'm sorry.
MAN: (gallantly) All right, my dear, that's fine. I just, I don't know how it works with you.
ME: (walking into the dorm, turning back) Listen, are you going to be all right?
MAN: Yes, my dear, I'll be fine. Thank you for worrying about me, though.
ME: No problem- good night- and God bless!
MAN: Right back at you.
I have never been so scared in my whole entire life.