There are many reasons I refuse to make eye contact with other drivers on the road.
You may meet the gaze of a pissed off motorist looking to confront you, and they may have an object in their car that can be used to inflict blunt force trauma, such as a bat or hammer - or, if in Los Angeles, a barbell, bong, or an empty bottle of Voss.
You might open yourself up to people in need of a favor. Such as a tourist asking for complicated directions before the light changes, or, again if in LA, the impatient assholes trying to cut a line of cars at the top of Laurel Canyon, feigning ignorance of the fact two lanes become one.
And in the albeit rare, yet frequent occasion for me, you may find yourself fall victim to drive-by sexual harassment.
It’s mainly that third thing that keeps my eyes so fixated on the road ahead of me. It’s not just because it’s degrading, humiliating, and infuriating, but because I’ve had more than my fair share of experiences with it - and because I’m older, wiser, bolder, and can finally afford to get my H2O from a glass bottle.
The first time it happened, I had just moved to LA, and chalked it up to the sexual deviants I’d heard frequently prowl the streets of the city. Although, it never occurred to me they might also cruise the freeways of the Valley, as well as other states, but we’ll get to that story shortly.
Stuck in traffic on the 101 in the far left lane (otherwise known as the fast lane in every other state, but California), I tried to move over to one with less brake lights. As I looked for my escape, I caught the eye of another driver apparently looking to enter the same lane. He held up, waved me in, and I waved back in gratitude, as I moved over a lane to my right, so that I was now in the lane to his immediate left. Naturally expecting him to change lanes either in front of, or behind me, this “gentleman” stayed in his lane, keeping his car even with mine and gestured something I couldn’t quite make out. Eventually, I understood the compliment he was trying to give.
“You are beautiful,” he mimed, with what seemed a genuine sentiment.
I was genuinely touched. I clasped my heart to convey as much, miming back to him, “Thank you.” The truth was, that day had been a particularly grueling one, and the compliment, at least initially, was a bright spot I definitely needed to lift me up.
While the conversation should have stopped there, the man continued his dialogue with another gesture - one that was a lot harder to misinterpret than the first. He pointed at me, then to his crotch, motioned his hand as if it was dribbling a basketball, or less discrete, as if it was resting on top of someone’s head - blowing him - then he pointed back at me, giving a thumbs up.
Big fucking thumbs down. My mouth dropped open in horror, which was likely to his delight, and as much as I wanted to speed away, rush hour traffic forced a new kind of torture upon me. There was no escape. I was seeing red - literally.
The second time something like this happened, I was in Florida for business. I know what you’re thinking, “Nothing good ever comes from a Florida story.” You’re right, and I assure you, this story does nothing to prove the contrary. My cousin and her family had recently relocated to the Sunshine State, so on a day off, I dropped by for a visit. We were running late for an errand she had to run that’s irrelevant and frankly, I can’t remember anyway. Since I hadn’t yet eaten, I grabbed a banana to take for the road.
Halfway through my on-the-go breakfast, my cousin rolled to a stop at a light where, from the passenger seat, my attention was drawn to the truck next to us. The man sitting behind the wheel pointed at the phallic shaped object I was consuming, flashed a knowing smile, then sealed it with a wink. I was horrified. Not only because the man was well into his Sixties, but because now this had happened twice, and that’s just to me. Apparently, this kind of behavior is not only everywhere, but seemingly commonplace.
That is why, to this day, I refuse to make eye contact with other drivers on the road. So, if you should see me, please know I am not trying to be malicious or rude, but I am shamelessly trying to ignore you. Not because I don’t want to take accountability for my actions or help you, but mainly because I play it safe and assume everyone’s a psycho, a corner cutter, a pervert, or, all of the above. A girl’s got to protect herself, especially in this day and age. Which, is also why to this day, I refuse to eat a banana in public unless cut into thin slices, so that an eating utensil is absolutely necessary.