If I could go back in time it would be to 1986. Once there I’d react differently. I’d read the instructions first instead of just tossing my mother’s charming rape alarm gift into my purse. Why? So I could blessedly avoid that embarrassingly unfortunate rape alarm incident.
Allow me to recreate the event so that you can
cringe along with me understand why I would do this.
It’s 1986 and I’m training for my first marathon. I’m also on a buying trip in Southeast Asia with my mother for work. Long story short: I’ll be running alone on unfamiliar streets at the coolest part of the day. Dawn. Mom is worried for my safety and after “exhaustive research” has come up with what she considers the perfect solution.
“A discreet and shrillingly loud personal safety alarm designed for easy placement in sports bags, purses, belt loops etc.”
In short, a rape alarm.
Really? At least it’s small. I manage a contrived smile and a token cursory glance, then chuck it into my purse. Where it will sit forgotten for days. Until we hit Bangkok.
Embarrassingly unfortunate rape alarm incident.
“I’m so excited you’re finally going to meet Pilat and his lovely wife. They are the gentlest, kindest people.”
Ok I must add a little more colour so you can truly appreciate the depths of my impending embarrassment. On first impressions, Thailand in 1986 is a peaceful, gentle country. Elephants still roam the remote highways up north, saffron robed monks beam serenely from their blankets on grassy knolls and the beautiful, glossy haired women walk gracefully arm in arm. Life is beauty, calmness and serenity.
Mom and I are about to be picked up and taken to lunch by her Thai friends, Pilat and Anong. I trust she’ll do most of the talking. My brain is a bit foggy as I’m tired and hungry; this morning’s training run was a slog. A humid hour and a half long.
Mercifully, the small and immaculately polished car pulls up right on time. Pilat and his wife remain inside. The hotel doorman, outfitted in a gorgeous costume of gold threaded voluminous pants and a tight-fitting jacket complete with winged shoulder pads, steps forward and opens the passenger door closest to the curb with a flourish. I slide in first. The interior is pristine. Two crisp and plump linen pillows grace the back seat. A full box of tissues, encased in silk, sits below the back window. Clearly we are welcome. I instantly relax. Once we’re both settled Mom leads off the introductions; our hosts turn and smile sweetly from the front seat.
“Pilat and Anong! Lovely to see you again. This is my daughter Kel …” She gets no further. An ear-splitting, piercing howl shatters the serenity.
At first no one moves. We can’t. The sound is mind-numblingly loud. It’s relentless. My brain gradually engages. As the caterwauling wails wash over us and my ears shut down in defence, my vision remarkably sharpens. Our hosts are frozen in their seats. I see just the backs of their heads; elbows jutting out at 45 degrees with hands clamped firmly over their ears. Are they speaking? I strain to listen and just make out the frantic wisps of Pilat’s perfect slightly accented English. “What is that dreadful noise???”
Outside Mr. Gold Threaded Voluminous Pants is mute, incapable of response. He’s positively paralyzed. His head tilts to the side; his face a mask of confusion.
My head swivels to my seatmate. Stirring to action she is a wonder. Her arms flail as both hands grab for the door handle. Of course. She knows the source of this atrocious din.
“Thai Bees! It’s a swarm! They’ll sting us alive! OPEN THE DOORS!!!“
As her fingers claw at the window buttons, Voluminous Pants spurs to action. He races around and around the car, flapping his arms; an obvious attempt to wave away the nasty invasion. Once she solves her door dilemma, Mom reacts somewhat oddly herself. She fans said door in perfect synchronicity with the doorman’s flapping arms; it’s a miracle the car doesn’t take flight. If the shrieking sound emanating from our vicinity didn’t previously draw the attention of innocent passersby the actions of these two certainly has. All eyes are locked on us. Delightful.
Something snags my attention to the mat under my feet. My disturbingly vibrating purse. The rape alarm. Oh god. No. As my hands scrabble for the surprisingly reluctant zipper and the offending item encased inside, dread slowly overtakes. How do I turn the damn thing off?
If I could go back in time, I’d read the instructions on receipt of the gift. I’d then know to calmly press the teeny “off” button conveniently placed on the edge of the rape alarm’s plastic casing. I wouldn’t fumble with the damn alarm for a good 30 seconds before frantically prying off the battery lid and hurling the world’s weensiest battery blindly out the window. But most importantly my two lovely gentle hosts wouldn’t be subjected to the girl they’ve yet to officially meet brazenly holler “It’s my rape alarm. My rape alarm!”
Could I have yelled it any louder? I think not. Most unfortunate.
Thanks Mom. Yup. That embarrassingly unfortunate rape alarm incident ranks right up there in terms of events I would change if I could go back in time. Let’s just stick to searching for those elusive “shockingly purple pants that old ladies don’t wear” and endless blossoms, shall we?
Enough about me and that embarrassingly unfortunate rape alarm incident. I’m curious about you. Have you ever experienced such embarrassment? Ever? If you’d care to share, I’d love to hear.