A recent dream of mine took place in a white and silver coffee shop that looked like it was designed by IKEA.
I was sitting next to Kate Olsen, who was talking about a play she'd seen in Prague. Across from us was the queen of England, who listened politely to Kate for awhile, but then pulled out books about English architecture and tried to prove that architecture was England's answer to Czech theater. Her Highness was cheerful but competitive.
Realizing I was the third wheel, I excused myself from the booth. Soon, I noticed I was being followed by a 40-something man. I'd leant my car to someone, which meant I was without my keys and thus without my pepper spray keychain. I dodged into the women's restroom, which happened to be behind the cash register. Instead of a mirror over the sink there was a window, from which I could see Kate and Her Highness; Tim Hunt was alone in the next booth.
The bathroom door opened; the man had followed me in. This was the first time I'd seen his face. It was Otto, a guy from an iO class I took a couple of years ago.
Otto? What are you doing?
His voice was gentle. "I'm going to mug you."
Otto. I know you.
He looked pleasant. "Yes."
You were in my Level 2 class.
Not threatening, not sarcastic, not even mischeivous. Just pleasant. "Yes."
You can't mug me.
"I'm going to take your money."
I'm not even a stranger. We took a class together. I think we're Facebook friends.
"I'm mugging you now." I tried to yell for help, but my voice wouldn't project. Even though Tim could clearly see me through the mirror/window, he acted like he was watching a scene instead of a crime. Maybe that's because I couldn't stop laughing at how silly it would be of Otto to mug me.
But I knew he was serious, that he would actually hurt me and steal from me. Even so, I couldn't stop laughing, so Tim thought everything was fine. After I wouldn't break eye contact with him, though, he came into the restroom, too. He was pretending to be a monkey. This scared Otto away.
I couldn't make Tim understand that I really needed help. Perhaps laughing might have detracted from any sense of urgency I might otherwise have conveyed. Of course I was laughing; it was funny. Why would Otto, why would anyone, mug someone he already knew, someone with whom he was on a how-have-you-been-I'm-fine-thanks terms? That doesn't mean I wanted to be mugged, though.
That is why you should carry pepper spray everywhere. Even around your friends, even in your dreams.