On Saturday night I listened to my best friend Katie tell a group of my friends in a bar one of my favorite stories of our teenage years:
We were at a beach party (OK, "beach" is a bit of a stretch. It was a party on the bank of a river.). I was flirting heavily with a cute boy who told me I was "pretty enough to be in Seventeen Magazine." It was cheesy, but it was working.
Katie did not like him.
She shot me looks. She huffed and puffed. I did not notice. I was smitten...and a little bit drunk.
Eventually, said boy invited me to "take a walk." Obviously, I obliged, but as we turned, arm-in-arm to begin our "walk," Katie thrust into my hand, in plain view of the boy, a can of pepper spray.
As she finished the story at the bar, I chimed in, "...and needless to say, I didn't get very far that night," to which she added, "True. But you didn't get hurt either." That's my Katie, in a nutshell.
I've been very lucky thus far. I've never been in a situation in which I would actually need pepper spray, but the metaphor of the pepper spray--defense on the ready--has stuck with me over the years. Often, I've felt as if I've put myself in potentially "dangerous" situations, armed with a can of emotional pepper spray in my purse, constantly prepared to protect myself (ie: my heart).
Lately though, I've been wondering if this is the best course for me. Perhaps, rather than putting myself in harm's way (which may or may not manifest in the grown-up version of a boy who would use a line suggesting that my beauty is magazine-worthy), I should listen to my best friend, as well as my conscience. Maybe then I won't need so much pepper spray, proverbial or otherwise.