I was eight years old, playing by myself in the field up the street from my house, when logic saved me from being possibly abducted and definitely sexually assaulted by a creepy white guy in a big car.
It was early afternoon on a Saturday, and I was climbing the high chain-link fence that divided the field from the next neighborhood over. In my typical Aspie girl way, I was talking to myself and entertaining myself greatly by hanging from the fence about 10 feet off the ground, and walking my way along its length, toes in the chain links, fingers wrapped around the rough metal in front of me.
I often played in that field alone. I preferred it that way. Occasionally, I ran into another kid, but that seldom went well. I said something they didn’t like, or I misunderstood what they said to me. Once, I was attacked by a black girl who was furious about my ancestors enslaving hers. It was the days of the Black Panthers, so of course she was furious. And rightly so. I tried to suss out the logic around my ancestors actually being persecuted in Europe for their religious views and having had nothing to do with slavery, but my rationale was unwelcome. That ended poorly. I didn’t get hurt too badly, but I was so frustrated that I couldn’t make my case clear, and I couldn’t convince her that I was her friend. I was being too much the pedantic Aspie. I probably sounded condescending and insulting, to be honest.
Yeah, I’m sure of it.
Another time, another girl let me hold her dog’s leash and told me I should wrap the leash around my hand, so the dog wouldn’t get loose. I misunderstood and deliberately didn’t wrap the leash around my hand, and the dog (he was big) got away from me. We spent quite some time trying to catch that damn’ dog. We did, but I never got to hang out with her again.
Being alone at the field was my refuge. It was the one place I could escape the constant sensory overload of my mother’s on other-end-of-the-spectrum hyposensitive, sensory-seeking ways. The noise. The banging. The chaos. The radio turned up loud. The singing at the top of her lungs. The constant movement, the constant contact — her bumping into me and everything, because she couldn’t feel where her body was in space.
The field and its empty expanse was my refuge.
So, there I was, climbing the fence, talking to myself enthusiastically, enjoying my vociferous solitude. And up drives this big car with a white man behind the wheel. I barely noticed him, and when he called out to me, I didn’t pay any attention to him. He was on the other side of the fence, sitting in his big-ass 1973-ish behemoth of a car, idling in the alley behind a neighborhood that was predominantly Black. The only white people who came into this area (other than a few families who lived on my street), were the workers who showed up at the businesses cate-corner from our house. There were a handful of warehouses and small companies on the other side of the intersection, and the only time I saw unfamiliar white people, was during business hours, Monday through Friday.
It was Saturday. What was this white man doing in his car in the alley behind a Black neighborhood?
Made no sense. Something was up.
He kept talking to me, acting like he knew me. Pffft. He didn’t know me. What the hell? Then he starts asking me if I want some candy.
“No,” I said. “I’m not hungry. And my mother told me not to eat candy between meals.”
Then he asks me if I’d ever seen “one of these”. He was holding something in his hands. I couldn’t see inside the car, so I moved along the fence, staying up high, and I saw his pants zipper was open and he was holding his dick in his hand.
“Yes,” I said dismissively. “I have a brother.”
He asked again if I wanted some candy and wanted to come down and talk to him.
“No,” I said in all honestly. I had no interest. He was boring. Plus, it was starting to seem creepy. Even at eight years old, I could tell something was up with this guy, and it wasn’t good.
I started to climb down from the fence. I wanted to go home.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“Home,” I said. “It’s time for dinner.”
“But it’s the middle of the afternoon,” he protested.
“My mother is calling me,” I said, as I turned and started to run for home. As fast as I could. I had to get out of there. All the signs told me something was very, very wrong.
I ran across the field, as I heard him calling behind me. Then, for some reason, I stopped and turned. I had to get his license plate and report him.
I started to run back towards the car, in hopes of memorizing his license plate. But when he saw me running towards him, he gunned his engine and took off. And I stood there in the middle of the field feeling grossed out and disappointed that I hadn’t gotten his license plate. Damn!
I went home and never mentioned this. In fact, I forgot all about it until I was in college and I was thinking about kids being abducted.
If I hadn’t been a little Aspie girl, things might have ended up very differently. Logic saved me then.
And it continues to. I can’t even count the number of times that basic reasoning has averted disaster. This example is just one of so many.
For that, I am eternally grateful.