Transparent Expedition is not just about being a parent of a transgender teenager. It is also about my deconstruction from faith into the unknown. Rape has affected too many people I love. Me Too has become the response of a lot of women to rape. I hope that this cry actually leads to change. I am afraid to be hopeful. Rape and sexual assault is one of those things that I do not think the people who can change things want to change. I know too many people who say me too.
What I am about to share with you is about a night where someone told me about her me too. It is Chapter 13 of my 2015 book called “Night Moves: An Ex Preacher’s Journey to Hell in a Taxi“.
This story not only forced me to realize that my understanding of the world needed to be challenged, but it is also an important topic we all need to face. Finally, I am also using it as a metaphor. My last blog about sleepovers has had some interesting responses. I have had 2 different parents from 2 different families, a youth minister, and a school administrator contact me to tell me I am wrong. I stuck to my guns, was polite, and pled my case. They are rethinking things. We always need to rethink things. We need to be challenged with the reality of the world versus the bubble we live in full of confirmation bias to keep comfortable.
And now, Chapter 13 of Night Moves. As always, thank you for reading, sharing, and commenting.
Chapter 13: Life Imitating Art Imitating Life Most Horrifically
There is a play (and a movie) called “Hellcab.” Written by a former Chicago cab driver, the play is about a day in the life of a Chicago cab driver and the events are based on experiences he has had.
In the play, there is a scene where the driver picks up a young woman and she tells him she was raped…just now.
One night, I picked up a young woman and she told me she was raped…just now.
I was called to do a pick up at a convenience store. This one was down the street from a biker bar and across the street from a townhouse complex. When I pulled up, a slender woman with auburn hair and pale skin entered the back. I confirmed her name and her destination and started the meter. When she answered, she could not make eye contact and her voice was shaky.
“Ma’am, are you alright?” I asked.
She choked for a second.
“I was just raped,” She looked out the window. I knew this scene. I don’t like this scene.
“Just now.” Her voice was a monotone.
“Sh*t.” I had nothing else.
After a pause I asked, “Do you need me to take you to a hospital or a police station?”
“No. He destroyed me but he didn’t hurt me. Little tearing, I guess. As far as cops, what’s the point? I know the son of a bitch. I’ll have to relive something I want to forget again and again and again and he’ll walk and I’ll have a scarlet letter on my chest for asking for it because I’m pretty or wore perfume and all the usual bull—-.”
“Yeah. I’m sorry.”
“So am I,” the choke turned into a sob. We still had a few miles to go. After a few moments she commented, “Why am I telling you all this? You think I’m a slut who asked for it.”“Why? Because I drive a cab and am wearing a biker jacket? OR, could it be because I am a man?”
She almost smiled for a second and said, “Yes to all.”
“Well, I’m also kinda a guy who has a kid and hates our rape culture and the slut shaming that we do to victims. I am breaking for you, hate the guy who hurt you, and wish like hell that this never happened. But it did and it ain’t your fault and it was done to you and I’m not a therapist so I am just gonna stop there.”
“Do you think I’m doing this wrong?”
I blew out a long sigh. “I think there is a lot wrong with this justice system. You have to do what is best for you. I wish I could tell you your prediction is wrong.”
“You believe me, don’t you?”
“I don’t have many that would. I don’t want to tell people. Could I tell you what happened? It’s okay if you don….”
“We only have 4 miles left, kiddo,“ I interrupted, “tell me.”
She told me her story. Every detail, every nuance, every moment.
When we got to her apartment, she paid me, told me to keep the change and, when she handed me the money, she gripped my hand with both of hers. It was a hug of sorts. I waited for her to get in the building. I pulled into a closed grocery store parking lot near her place, punched my steering wheel a few times, and screamed till my throat was raw and cried.
I was tired. I was tired of the pain. I was tired of being broke. I was tired of not being able to do anything save a kind word. I realized, in this moment, that the helplessness was not new. The thought that I had made a difference before was an illusion. I did little things and claimed that I was making a larger difference than I was. Insulated from knowing these people, I had answers and solutions. Their problems were like a mathematics problem, with a formula to work through and a singular solution. The truth is, I had no solution.
For every night after every night, for all of the pain, darkness, and death, my tears flowed and with them, all the knowledge I used to possess flowed out of me. All my innocence and willful ignorance emptied with each heaving sob. The tears on my cheeks were a baptism into a new existence. One that had no answers. One that had no resources. One in which I knew I had to engage again. This time, though, the engagement had to be as one of and among as opposed to being the hero with more knowledge and more skills. I was no better. I was no different. In that realization was release. In that was freedom.
I no longer had to pretend and I no longer had to discover myself. The truth was, the night gave me permission to be the man I wanted to be. No one was looking for me to be their savior.
Like the scene in the play, there was nothing I could do for that woman. I could not un-rape her. I could not take away her pain. I could not give her the justice and the healing that she deserved.
But I knew now that I was done being paralyzed. I had seen enough. I was going to see more. Life is not a spectator sport. I was not a student in a class and these people were not test subjects to learn about the realities of life from. They were human beings. I was no better. I was no different.
The tears led to a coughing fit which was so hard my side hurt and I had to step out into the winter night to vomit. Then, I had a cigarette and moved on to the next fare.