The other day I found myself placing a standard-sized claw hammer atop the diaper bag in the stroller, before the nanny left to take the kids to the park.
Minutes before I flipped the tool over and over in my hands, checking the weight, draw speed, and making general calculations as to its potential threat level.
I opened drawers, kitchen cabinets, cupboards, searched underneath bed frames, dug through the toy chest. Something loud, something heavy, something blunt, something menacing. Military-grade flashlight? Too awkward. Zippy Martian gun? Unrealistic.
I did a quick search on the Internet for “homemade self defense.” You might imagine what came up.
But I didn’t need to construct a flame thrower from a can of hairspray and a lighter. And I wasn’t thinking of the room in the house containing the highest concentration of improvised weapons.
I just needed a tool.
I was never a Boyscout. But “being prepared” seems like a good idea these days. Perhaps it’s just psychological protection from the Boogie Man. Or an irrational idea that by constantly imagining the worst-case-scenarios, I am somehow immunizing myself from the possibility of their coming to fruition.
I told her to brandish it menacingly. Howl like a crazy person. Throw it, end over end at the would-be-assailant. Above all, snatch up our oldest and stay close to the stroller.
But what the fuck am I talking about? I have no direct experience with violence other than constant nightmares and one failed attempt at aikido.
I am simply a man afraid. A parent in constant fear. Every walk down the stairs is a potential broken neck. Every open window is an Eric Clapton tragedy waiting to occur.
And every stranger is a sadist kidnapper.
Before you bring out the straightjacket and tinfoil hat — this doesn’t all come out of nowhere. The neighbor’s nanny was recently accosted by a (likely) crazy man who tried to grab one of the kids. But maybe he wasn’t just crazy. Maybe he had a plan…
So I climb in bed. I clutch my antique splinter-filled Louisville Slugger.
And I wait.