(Toledo, OH) I consistently preach to my children that people should always walk in groups, and that walking at night is dangerous.
Yet I found myself last night doing the thing I have warned against: walking alone at night.
I had intended to leave the going-away party I attended before dark, but found myself chatting until well after 10:00 pm. It was quite dark when I said my goodbyes.
I do not live in a particularly dangerous neighborhood, but criminals respect no boundaries these days. It took only a minute for my guard to go up, but heck - it was only a mile, and the weather was nice.
The night world is very different from the day, and you hear quite a variety of sounds while walking along a dark road: fireworks off in the distance, cicadas shrieking in the trees, emergency sirens, people laughing, people arguing.
A van blew the stop sign at McGregor and Harvest while I approached the intersection. It came to a halt thirty yards down the road and a woman got out.
"Why are you acting like this?" she cried in the dark.
"F** this - I'm out of here!" was the unseen man's reply as he sped off.
I decided not to stick my nose in a domestic quarrel and continued walking.
A carload of teens whizzed by, flashing their brights and honking the horn at me, the loon who was walking on the side of the road.
"Faggot!" was the rhetorical brilliance offered by one of the passengers.
My response was a one-fingered salute, which caused them to brake and turn around.
"Here we go," I thought as the car circled back. I began to look for a stick or large rock to defend myself when the car passed. A 20-oz soda bottle was hurled in my direction, and the group shouted some more colorful phrases, but they evidently tired of the "Taunt-the-Pedestrian" game and did not return.
I arrived home unscathed, and really no worse for the wear, but I vowed that any exercise benefits derived from late night walks are more than canceled out by the inherent danger of walking alone at night.