Here's a confession of sorts: I walk in dark alleys.
Apparently this is bad, or so my husband tells me. Alleys are simply a part of living in Chicago, thus I use them to my advantage. They may save me a whole minute sometimes. Yesterday when I got off the train, I could plainly see that the shortest and most direct route to my car was through an alley. Normally I would not even stop to consider an alternative, but something made me remember the admonishments of my dear husband, as I looked down that perfectly shortened route to my car.
So I had to share my lack of understanding with him (for which I'm sure he's eternally grateful) I called and explained to him that it made NO sense to me to walk a longer route down a dark side street, instead of a shorter one through what looked to be an incredibly well lit alley. I mean, come on. If you were going to mug someone, wouldn't you rather do it on a dimly lit side street instead of the alley behind McDonald's which is lit up like Times Square? No, he implored me to go the long way, far from the alley. I did, but I didn't like it. Later that night when I realized I was missing some (well, most) necessary ingredients for my planned dinner, I asked Jesus if he was coming with me to the store. Which is literally a block and a half from us. You guessed it, a block and a half down the alley. So I warned him, if he didn't go, that I was going to walk straight down that dark alley to get there.
Alleys don't scare me. Sure there are cats and rats and the occasional opossum. Bums and drunks and hipsters, too. Wait, I could make a song here. Wait again, I have no musical talents. Ok, where was I?
Nothing particularly bad has ever happened to me in an alley. Once I thought I saw a dead guy, and called 911. Turned out he was just tremendously drunk. When I was a teenager, I forgot to tuck my big, gold nameplate into my shirt before walking home one night. Walking down a busy, well lit street, my chain got snatched off my neck. Street: 1, Alley: 0. Another time as a teenager, I was surrounded by a group of thugs who wanted to pound me to a pulp for reasons I never quite figured out (maybe it had to do with someone's boyfriend? Or wearing the wrong colors? Who knows, they were thugs, not Rhodes scholars. Rational thought wasn't exactly their forte) and was thankfully rescued at the last minute by a known gang member. Again, on a busy, well lit street. Street: 2, Alley 0.
Oh, sometime around 1984ish I was in a laundromat with my mother, and some creep got naked in between the commercial size dryers and came stalking up behind me. My mother screamed and pointed, then everyone screamed and pointed, and when I turned to see what all the screaming and pointing was about, all I saw was a naked butt running out through the back door. Later, say around 1992, walking home from a school dance, admittedly dressed like a child prostitute, a scruffy old guy grabbed my arm. When he realized that he was scaring the shit out of me, he let go and backed away, and I ran as fast as my booted feet would move me. Street: 3, Alley: 0. Of all the weird and unpleasant things I can think of, not one of them ever happened in an alley.
Why are we conditioned to be so afraid of alleys anyway? They're always being associated with bad things. Back alley abortions. Alley cat. Wikipedia (my go to source to end all go tos) says, "An alley ... is a narrow lane found in urban areas, often for pedestrians." Am I not a pedestrian? In an urban area? I say we reclaim our ability, nay RIGHT, to walk in alleys! Who's with me!?