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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

« Today, so far. | Main | Ah, the unique horror of the awkward confrontation. »

Dear city: I chose you over the suburbs, and this is what I get?


First of all: I’m all right. I’m all right! No one panic!

That said, here’s what just happened. Oh, my! The adrenaline! The freaking out! But I’m all right. Stop panicking. You must.

I was returning from Manhattan, back from my Day of Freedom—I was having lunch with my friend while my son made Play-Doh pies with my mother-in-law or whatever it is they do when I’m not around. (And she loves it! Everyone wins in this deal.)

Sitting on the stoop of the building next door was a gaunt, toothless man commenting on every woman walking by. I thought, Ah, I’m home, where the crazy people believe in the possibility of love. He muttered at me and sucked at his teeth. Well, his tooth. And I disregarded him, as I do all the crazies, and walked to my door, and opened it.

I turned to close the door. And there he was. He pushed the door in, knocking me back a little. We were about an inch apart in the tiny vestibule between the outside door and the inside door. He was staring at me.

And then, dear readers, I went apeshit.

Well, as much as I am able to, which is in reality not very much. Just as he began to inform me that he “just had a question,” (Oh! A question, dear sir? Well, come right on in!) I shouted “Get out get out get OUT!” and I shoved at his scrawny little chest with all my might and he stumbled out the door. And then took off.

Once my violently trembling hands managed to get my keys to open the door, I called 911, gave them a startlingly vivid description of the guy, and a few minutes later the police came to my door with—the guy! And oh, how we had a reunion. The police said, “Is this the guy?” and I said, “Indeed,” and the guy looked all sullen, like now he was going to get detention on account of me, and then I gave the police all the details of the (brief) event, and then I watched them from inside as they stood on the sidewalk and berated him. The guy was waving his arms all around, and I was trying to figure out how he was defending himself. “I was lonely, see? And I knew she wasn’t going to invite me in. Even after I sucked at my tooth for her! What choice did I have?”

Alarmingly, they then proceeded to let him go. Thanks, NYPD! I called the precinct, and the guy who answered the phone said, “Well, I’m sure they didn’t just let him go. Who are you going to believe, little lady? Me or your lying eyes?

Meanwhile, I’m okay! I’m fine! Except I will never leave my house again. So I’ll be posting more frequently, albeit with less interesting content.

Reader Comments (42)

YIKES!!!! Oh my goodness. My heart was pounding reading your post. I'm glad you are OK. I'm sorry the police ignored the dangerous situation. STAY SAFE!
July 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterRunning2Ks
Kudos on going apeshit. Absolutely the best thing to do. I know pepper spray is illegal in NYC, but um, is there something else you can get? That's too creepy.
July 25, 2005 | Unregistered Commenteremjaybee
Poor you, that's scary. Why don't you take up kick boxing or something, my friend who is 5 ft 2" and a black belt in Karate beat the crap out of someone (much,much,bigger)who tried to mug her last year. Just a thought.
July 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterlLyn
YIKES! How freaky! I am glad you are okay but still...alarming! I understand all your exclimations! Ack!
July 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterEm
I am so glad you are safe! I am really sorry to hear that the cops let him go. Not only let him go, but let him go as you watched. Forget the laws about pepper spray, just get some. Or that super powerful foghorn thingy.I am in shock and horror. (You still can tell a story like no ones business!)
July 25, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterwendy
Be careful! Take out that last tooth of his if you need to!

Maybe since he knows your apeshit-ability and propensity for getting the cops involved, he'll back off. And if he shows again you can snap a photo of him just to warn him that he's suspect number one...if anything strange happens in the hood.
July 25, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterkathy
Oh!! Shit!! Glad you're okay. Wow, that's scary. And they let him and his tooth just go? Very, very scary.
July 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterBrooklyn Mama
Dude, I once came out my apartment door to go to work in the morning and there was a guy sleeping on the doormat, this in the hallway on the third floor of a four-story walk-up. I thought you liked stepping out your door and having the city slap you in the face? Or was that Pretty Rambo.
July 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Kennedy
Having been mugged right outside my Brooklyn apt, and developing a feisty case of PTSD from it (with inherent treatment expenses), YOU DID THE RIGHT THING. Apeshit is the proper protocol. Those cops did not. Next time (knocking on wood you never even hear him sucking that tooth again) he puts his hands you, insist they write him up for battery. It won't go anywhere but it'll give the guy a headache.
July 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterWavery
Between this guy and the subway door I'm freaking out.

What he did was assault and trespass and yes, they could have arrested him.
July 25, 2005 | Unregistered Commentervictoria
I'm glad your okay...You should have knock out his last tooth!
July 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterStillheidi
Egads. That is far more excitement than the suburbs. Glad you are okay and were sans Henry. My word, what would he have said about THAT stink?!
July 25, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterrose
July 25, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterhonestyrain
I am sincerely and intensely glad you are okay, although, I actually wouldn't call such an assault on your peace of mind "okay" strictly speaking. Causing you to vow never to leave your house again is the damage that old, toothless guy did and why he should have received more punishment than he did.

I can hear the cops now, "You better not do that again, old man, or you're goin' downtown." Uff.

I live way out in the country. In Texas. Way out in the country in Texas, if someone tries to get into the house... we shoot 'em... then we call the cops. And everyone knows this, even the criminals, so they don't try to get in the house.
July 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterTitanKT
I think you need to get away. To California.
July 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommentermelissaS
You have just reinforced my love for the 'burbs.
July 25, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterbuffi
hey, is BlogHer in "the O.C"? because that would be sooooo coool.

hopefully a nice frosty alcoholic beverage will make you forget tooth sucking man.

July 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterjenB
I wonder if that's the same guy who used to sleep on the radiator in my building? Sigh.... I miss New York.

Glad you're okay!
July 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJess
But...but...what was his question???
July 26, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterlizardek
Scary. I'm glad you are okay.

I'm going to put in a word for the cops. Maybe they know this guy and know that scaring the crap out of him is enough to put him back on the straight and narrow. Bringing him chews up time -- and while he was way out of line, a decent attorney would not be without lines of defense. If he plea bargains he is back on the street and the cops are back to square one.

But I can't imagine why the beat cops didn't explain what they are doing.

Have you seen this guy since then?

July 26, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterNobody
Exactly -- I'm DYING to know what his question was.

Perhaps he was going to ask if you could reccommend a good dentist? For his one remaining tooth?
July 26, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterHolly
Not to minimize the scariness of your, uh, encounter, but I'm not sure what else the police could (or should) have done. Did the guy commit a crime? Probably not. Not burglary. Not assault. Not menacing. Perhaps trespass, but ordinary trespassers aren't arrested and jailed. Perhaps the police ought to have taken him somewhere--away from your house--and let him go. But that would have required them to arrest him (unless he agreed to go), and what would they have arrested him for? Moreover, that would have solved your problem, but only by shifting it elsewhere (since you imply the police shouldn't have left him on the streets).
July 26, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterPeter
He clearly belongs in an institution, however, as they are expensive, over populated and the system makes it difficult to admit or keep patients for prolonged periods of time, expect someone else to share your woe soon enough.

YIKES. I feel your pain, one day, years ago now, we lived in a walk-up in Toronto. Right off Yonge st. but close enough to the University to make it decent, know what I mean, anyways, it was an awesome apartment, studio etc. I had only two little'uns at the time but one day I went to take them downstairs and there was a 'man' (I use this term loosely) slumped over in the vestibule. He had a needle sticking out of his exposed arm and he was asleep. Right when my oldest passed him, he came to life again and started to grab my daughter, I literally shit myself and kicked him RIGHT-IN-THE-FACE with my boots. My daughter had the wind knocked out of her (by me, whipping her out of this psycho's grasp) and people on the street were running up to the guy with the bleeding face screaming and dragging him out on the street. It was a horrible scene, one that replays often in my mind, especially when I am anxious about my kids.

Don't lock yourself in, its easy to do however, but don't. Be brave.
July 26, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterUma Andersson
Two words- BIG DOG

We had a big black dog while living in the slope, (Shepherd mix) and I am telling you- questionable people will just run across the street when they see a big dog coming. The reality was that he was a big teddy bear who let children nap on him and couldn't even catch a squirrel, but they never knew.

So sorry to hear about your close encounter, but glad you handled it well and did not get hurt.

July 26, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterclickmom
I also walked outside my apartment (in Atlanta) one day to find a homeless man sleeping on the landing. He had creatively placed his shoes on the ends of the bannister so that the STINK (tm Henry) of his feet could waft through the stairwell for days. After the landlord moved him I sprayed the bannister with Lysol.

July 26, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterStacy

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