"Where are you from?" one of the twins asked, as most people do.
"Upstate New York," I said, and then, before she could move on to the next question most people ask about what part, "Potsdam area."
"Oh, funny story," she said, "my ex-husband is from there."
There was a table with some index cards and pens, inviting attendees to write our favorite memories of the twins, and I hilariously wrote that mine was meeting them for the first time that evening. I had some room left on the card so after some ethical debate I left my web address. When I got home, I was horrified to discover that I had somehow put the pen cap in my pocket instead of putting it back on the pen. It seemed stupid to interrupt their lives for such a trifle, yet it needed to be made right no matter how small, so I determined to leave it on their porch with a note.
"How are you?" asked some lady sitting on her porch on their street. I said I was fine, thanks. I left the pen cap and the note and then by happenstance as I was wandering later that day and realized I was on the same street again, took the opportunity to check whether they had retrieved it yet. They had. I reached the end of the street and found several shriveled-up crusty dandelions growing by the road. I like picking the shriveled-up crusty bits off of dandelions. I enjoy it more than I can explain and I couldn't possibly care less if people think it's weird or assume I'm mentally deficient. So I picked the shriveled-up crusty bits off these dandelions and was about to leave when the lady who had said "How are you?" started incoherently yelling something.
I should have just kept going, but I wandered back over across half a block to stand in her front yard and ask what she was saying. She was brown and wrinkly, wore glasses, and was smoking a cigarette. What follows is reconstructed from my memory to the best of my ability. It was disjointed and surreal and repetitive at the time.
"What are you doing?" she asked. "I just wanna know what you're doing. I saw you on this street earlier, I said 'How are you', now you're back, and you went running real fast when Brennan pulled up in his car."
I hadn't noticed or reacted to any cars. I told her why I had been on the street earlier and how I happened to be on it again.
"Which house?" she asked.
I told her the number.
"That green one?" she said.
I didn't know, I couldn't see from here which one it was and I didn't know if it was the green one because I have better things to do with my brainpower than memorize the colors of houses I've seen twice.
"You're lying," she said. "I don't like liars. I know you're high... on meth." That was news to me, but it explained a lot. "I know because I used to be on meth, but I've been clean for seven years. I know you're here because of Brennan and Stacey. "
"Who are Brennan and Stacey?"
"Oh, you know."
Where could the discussion go from there? There was nowhere for it to go if she was going to be as asinine and incoherent as an anti-vaxxer.
"You were here twice, and God knows when else, because my dogs knocked me down. I have two huge dogs. If I ever see you around here again, I'm going to sic them on you."
"You don't own the street," I said.
"I don't care, I have kids. I have kids."
"You can't attack me for no reason."
She got this smug hoity-toity look and said, "Suspicion of activities." She obviously missed the memo that in the United States, "suspicion of activities" is not sufficient grounds to attack a white person*. I should have called the police then and there. She called out one of her kids, a girl of about middle school age, and told her to go get her brother. And she went and got her brother and her brother was about thrice the size of his mom. And I thought she was going to have him attack me, but he literally just stood there awkwardly for the remainder of our discussion.
"How did you know where I live?" she demanded, squinting at me.
"Because you yelled at me from across the street!" Why she thought my being here had jack to do with her was beyond my meager powers of comprehension.
"You were over there in the dandelions -"
"Yeah, is picking dandelions a crime now?"
"------- dandelions, man? Seriously?"
"Yeah, seriously!" My patience was quickly unraveling as it began to appear that this person was just a bigot against Aspies. If I want to pick the shriveled-up crusty bits off dandelions, I'll pick the shriveled-up crusty bits off dandelions. I don't owe her or anyone else on this planet an explanation.
"If you come back, I - it won't be good for you." Yeah, I'm really scared of a woman older than my mother who sits on her nalgas and smokes all day. I could probably just run circles around her until she died.
At this point I decided I was done being polite. "I'm gonna come back just to piss you off," I promised.
"Yeah, well..." she said something else that I wasn't listening to as I decided she had wasted enough of my time and left.
"I'll go wherever the ---- I want!" I yelled back. I usually try not to swear loudly enough for anyone to hear, but I made an exception that time.
I contacted the Logan City Police via Facebook because I was too nervous to call. Why don't they have an email? God forbid they have any contact method for people with non-urgent matters who have anxiety about phone conversations or being arrested for no reason. Of course, even though the Logan City Police Facebook page says they usually message back within a few hours, they never messaged me back, just like they never messaged me back the first time I contacted them about something. And the first time it felt personal, like they didn't consider me a person of equal value, but this time I should have seen it coming. I had briefly forgotten that harassment and threats are perfectly legal in the United States.
If she had just left me alone, I would have felt zero need to go back. But I was going to keep my promise. There was no way in hell I was going to give in to her misguided and unacceptable abuse. So I went back the next day.
Fortunately it was a cloudy, cool day, so I was able to wear a jacket with sleeves long enough to conceal a large, serrated kitchen knife. I probably didn't need to bother concealing it. I could probably carry whatever I wanted with impunity, because in the United States, "carrying literally any object including a cell phone or a ------- shower head" is not sufficient grounds to kill a white person*. I hoped I wouldn't have to use it, but I was determined that any living thing that attacked me would regret it. Hopefully the mere sight of the weapon would keep her from touching me and hopefully if the dogs attacked I could just wound them enough to make them back off. And the police would be displeased and I would ask them why they suddenly started caring about the problem I already told them about.
A dog barked as I neared her house. Through the screen door, I saw it, about a third of the size I expected. I think it was a bulldog but I couldn't see it clearly. So their existence was confirmed. She was still sitting on the porch, though I almost didn't recognize her without her glasses. As I passed by I looked her in the eye with the most defiant look I could manage. This was the moment of truth.
"Shut up, Z," she said to the dog.
My conclusion? That she was on drugs, probably meth, the first time. That makes it easy to forgive her. I am, by nature, one of the least forgiving people in the world, but I have an enormous space in my heart for addicts. Having stood up to her and kept my honor, I am now willing to put this incident behind us.
*In case it isn't as obvious as I hope it is, I'm mocking the status quo of black males in the United States being frequently attacked and/or killed for stupid reasons, not supporting it.