I live in New York City. I work in Manhattan, reside in Queens.
It’s not the ‘Sex in the City’ New York where you can hook up for a one night stand and then stagger home safely at 3 a.m. with Manholo Blahniks in hand.
I live in the New York where the threat of pickpockets on the subway is real. Just this morning there was a report of a woman being approached on the street by a man who just ‘said’ he had a gun, then walked her into a alley to rape and rob her.
Not that I’m ragging on New York. It’s not like living in the Thunderdome. Yet, living in a big city presents real and imagined threats. Being cautious, if you’re not an idiot, is a way of life.
So imagine what was going through my mind when a drunk staggered into me on Broadway as I headed for the J train.
There wasn’t anything else to do but to catch her. She had short wavy, blond hair and since I could look down at the crown of her head, was about 5’3.
“Whoa, are you ok?”
“No, I’m not,” she said.
Aw, shit. I grabbed her arm in one hand and clutched my purse tighter to my shoulder. See, cuz in my New York, this shit could’ve been a hustle.
We crossed to the corner. There against a post outside of Chase Bank she told me her name was Maggie.
“My sister is dead.” Maggie’s eyes were a watery blue. . . and bloodshot. That’s when I got the first whiff of booze.
“Maggie, how can I help you?” I said shoving my bag deeper into my armpit and looking around. The streets in downtown Manhattan get pretty sparse of people after the 5pm rush.
Maggie braced herself against the pole and said, “You don’t believe me.”
Nope, I didn’t. Not really.
Maggie’s cell phone kept ringing. “It’s my husband. He’s looking for me. He’ll be pissed. I’m not supposed to drink anymore.”
No cops in sight, I was starting to suspect I was stuck with a drunk on a street corner. In my head I started running through the possibilities of getting out of this gracefully.
Just then a man in a hat and a dark green suit jacket walked up to us. He knew Maggie, they worked together in a bar nearby. His name was Joe. The minute Maggie saw him, she fell into his arms in tears.
This freaked Joe the hell out. I don’t know if it was the tears, or the fact a white woman was bawling in his arms on a Manhattan street. He was black, about sixty or so, almost the same height as Maggie. He confirmed that her sister had died, unexpectedly earlier in the week. Maggie had left the bar supposedly to catch the train home to New Jersey. He felt uncomfortable walking with her by himself.
Arm in arm we walked Maggie to the Path Train Station at the World Trade Center site. The entire time Maggie cooed and pawed Joe saying how great a guy Joe was. He was visibly relieved when Maggie’s head went out of sight on the downward escalator at the PATH station.
I was relieved too but unsure if I had done enough. Maggie was almost falling down drunk.
Maybe I should’ve rode the escalator down with her.
Maybe I should’ve called 911.
Maybe I should’ve yanked her phone away and spoke with her husband.
When I got home my boyfriend scolded me. He said my safety is more important and next time either I keep walking or call the cops and keep walking.
I said if I see someone that needs help, I’m going to help. Treat people how you want to be treated. Period.
I bring this story up cuz I wanted to talk about heroines and heroes. (I’m in no way comparing myself to a hero however.)
Heroes, really entertaining ones, are the people who remind us of ourselves. They are fucked up and flawed characters who are hauled kicking and biting into situations where they battle between what they should do and what they want to do and if they could have done things better.
It’s like Harry choosing to battle Voldemort vs. getting to second base with Cho Chang.
It’s Luke rejecting the Dark Side of the Force when the dark was clearly a lot more fun.
It’s Ripley agreeing to go with the Colonial Marines to LV-426 to find the missing colonists.
Scratch what I wrote before – maybe they don’t remind us of ourselves. Maybe we don’t even want to be them.
What I do want for sure is a hero who is entertaining as hell; a heroine who puts on a good ass show that’s fun to watch.
He or she must deliver a kick-ass ride that feels like a roller coaster through a real-live zombie death match – and also she learns something about herself in the process.
I’m always up for a good ride.
With the super popularity of paranormal romance – are a new flock of ‘heroines’ being born only inspire because they get tough when they have to fight for or fight with their ‘man’ – but spend the rest of the time being a slave to ‘does he love me or does he love me not’?
What kind of fuckery is that? Women only are bad-ass when it comes to ‘love’?
Are the latest crops of movies, TV shows, and fiction delivering solid heroines?
I’m not sure.