I love men. I fancy I know them too, and for the most part I do. In fact, when this story took place I was living in a house full of men. I was the girl with three male roommates who wasn’t romantically involved with any of them. I was dating a law student who lived five miles away, but I spent a great deal of time in the company of men, and when you love something—you pay attention.
I love the simplicity of men. They can’t always be trusted, but they can generally be counted on to follow certain behavior patterns. Their egos are very different than women’s. I suspect they’re not as insecure, and while we worry about what they’re thinking, we’d probably be disappointed to discover that most of the time they are only thinking about the things that give them pleasure, comfort or amusement. And if a man’s comforts are being met, and he is amused, he is probably harmless. But once in a while, you run into a bad man; they run the gamut from annoying to deadly. Just the other day I heard a horrible story about a woman who thought she was going to be strangled to death by a man she met online. That can happen when you cross paths with a bad man.
In comparison, my man was a walk in the park. Plus, my guy never laid a finger on me. All he did was wave his penis at me on the Jones Falls Expressway. That’s a fast paced highway on the edge of Baltimore, an alternative to traffic lights, a four-lane track crossing the boundaries of city and county that makes it difficult to pinpoint jurisdictions. If you run into a bit of trouble on the Jones Falls, you may have to talk to more than one set of police officers before Baltimore County officially agrees to hear your woes, and then you may explain one more time about the guy who waved his penis at you while you were driving home from your summer job.
Maybe he had his Buick on cruise control because he lifted himself up in order for his genitals to clear the car’s doorframe. Up over the doorframe to wave hello or salute or intimidate—it’s hard to know what’s going on in a man’s mind when he decides to wave his penis at a stranger. And not just any stranger, but a young woman type stranger, which must be the point. Ridiculous, perhaps—but not friendly. And I’d been singing hymns, too. The radio didn’t work. Imagine being in the middle of “Rock of Ages” while the guy in the car next to you is contemplating his move. And what a move it was. The image remains imprinted in my brain, but it doesn’t haunt me. If anything, it’s a righteous story. No one was hurt and justice prevailed.
And if you are right at this moment trying to imagine a man exposing himself while driving down the Jones Falls, you will have to take my word for it or run your own experiments though I will admit the defense attorney made quite a big deal out of the flexibility needed for the feat. There was a photographer and pictures of the defendant’s car next to a standard four door on the highway hoping to prove the act a moving impossibility. Waving your penis at a young woman in the next lane while keeping your car in your own may be difficult, but it is not impossible. Trust me. You don’t want to tell this story to the State Troopers and the Baltimore County Sheriff’s office if it’s not true. Eventually, someone will get a “female officer” and you’ll have to start at the beginning and tell the story again.
After the female officer, it was quiet for the night, and I settled down to process the scene. It takes quite a bit out of a girl to see a strange penis and then talk about it—officially—for two hours. Yet, I must have replenished my strength because the next morning I went to battle with the District Attorney. He was the first guy who really possessed the authority to say, “I don’t believe you. I just don’t believe a guy exposed himself to you while driving down the Jones Falls.”
But I know what I saw, and I am mad like a terrier when jerks wave their dicks at me and then folks think I’m the crazy one. I just hate that. Besides I felt fueled by righteous feminism, certain that my flasher made his babysitter and his cocktail waitress uncomfortable too. So I asked that District Attorney for his exact location, and made it easy for him by marching myself straight to his office.
“Well, I gotta take this case to court now.” He said over his fine wooden railing. “You showed up. But you don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell.” And on Monday morning we went to court.
And I know this sounds crazy, but I still feel sorry for our bad man’s wife. True, she was wearing an expensive and elegant, classic suit, but imagine sitting in court while a junior at the local college accuses your husband of waving his penis at her. Of course, he didn’t wave it for long, but a thing like that doesn’t take long.
At the time of the incident, I didn’t own a classic suit or a car. I was driving a rental from a place on the outskirts of the city—sadly enough, literally named, “Rent A Wreck”. And as the name implies, the place rented banged up, junky, old cars. They were cheap. I think that’s what got me in trouble, made me susceptible to my bad man’s wickedness. I thought there was something wrong with my car, so I slowed down to see why the man next to me was waving. Just in case my car was on fire. I even checked all the mirrors and sniffed the air while I navigated toward him. And instead of chivalry—I got a dick in the air and a big grin, and a gross little wiggle of the tongue, nicely choreographed with a corresponding erectile rumba.
I sped my wreck up and drove away from him, but his image was etched in my mind. I was next to him long enough to understand his intentions, to satisfy his need. Just by driving down the Jones Falls, just by being afraid of the cheap car I was driving, I inadvertently gave a strange man what he wanted. Even though it was the last thing I wanted. That’s what made me mad, made me victimized, made me feel used and shamed and willing to go home and pick up the phone. With a bit of perception and a little experience, it doesn’t take long to recognize bad.
Still. Everyone is somebody’s baby. Joining the photographer and the wife in the courtroom sat a character witness named Frederick Jenkins. Good ole, Freddy played golf with the defendant. He loved the man. He sighed with shock and disbelief at the outrageous and preposterous allegations, falsely flung at his friend. Why Mr. Jones Falls was a pillar of society, vice president of a proud and local corporation, loving husband and father of three, member of the Chamber and an avid gardener. And I am sure Freddy was sincere.
And at the height of his testimony, Frederick Jenkins talked about his friend’s dedication and discipline, especially when it came to his responsibilities around the corporate grounds. And with passion, Frederick told the judge and all present how much his friend, our poor defendant, loved to work in the garden.
“He’s always digging around in a flower bed. He’s a stand-up guy!” And muffled laughter floated through the courtroom. Then a garden spade was entered into evidence and given an exhibit number, one flesh toned garden spade with the flesh toned part protruding out of a small paper bag, lifted high and shown to the judge then marked as evidence and carefully placed on a table in front of the clerk. The defense attorney rested his hand dramatically on the spade and paused. Clearly, this moment was the centerpiece of the defense, the moment he’d been waiting for, and the attorney corrected his posture and the timber of his voice as he proclaimed, “So you believe, Mr. Jenkins, in fact you’re quite sure that the young woman didn’t see a penis—what she saw was nothing more than a garden spade!”
More laughter, and a few gasps. But no one was buying it. “The young woman is twenty-one years of age,” the judge proclaimed with an air of confident finality. “She knows the difference between a penis and a garden spade!”
I don’t remember if the judge banged his gavel, but he did smile an affirming, grandfatherly smile after he ordered our bad man to a court appointed psychiatrist, reserving his right to pass sentence till he heard just what that psychiatrist said. And it was all over. I shook the District Attorney’s hand. He seemed quite pleased with himself and me too now that the taste of victory filled his mouth. We smiled at one another while he grinned and pumped my hand. Then I took the bus home.
Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.
Genesis 3: 1-7
Rev. Darlene L. Kelley Methodist to Her Madness October 13, 2014