I have new neighbors. Maybe they aren't new, maybe our harsh winter months just kept them inside and hidden and away from me and my small, tight little world. Now that it's warm and the sun is shining, however, they gather on the stoop next door like a bunch of half-starved lions, turned away by any pride and left to straggle aimlessly. They lounge and recline, perching on vehicles and steps and lying in the too-long grass in various states of undress and exibition. They're all male, and they're all covered in badly-done tattoos that I, because of my work and personal affinity for body art, recognize not as expressions of self but as declarations of loyalty to a larger group. A more dangerous group. A group that most probably encourages the doing of some bad shit.
They are not shirtless because of the heat, at least not entirely so. They want those brands to be seen. They are preening. They are proud of themselves and each other, thinking they are important and worthy of attention and respect.
I fucking loath them.
I don't know their names or their ages, nor do I care to, but can only presume by their actions and lack of apparent motivation that they are not past their early twenties. I don't know anything about them but what I assume from their tattoos, their bandanas, their sagged pants and attitudes. What I know is also that I can no longer walk from my car to my front door without their eyes following me, their voices growling at me. Whether predawn or the darkest of night, they are there. They watch me when I move, talk to each other about me, say things to me that they should not say. I know that the affect they are having is intentional. They know I know, and they don't care.
They make me uncomfortable -- my woman's intuition SCREAMS when they approach me, and I immediately go from calm and waiting for my dog to do her business to angry and wanting nothing more than to let her off the leash she's straining against, as she's barking and growling and snarling in a show that is so uncharacteristic that I do not recognize it in my sweet natured pup. I do not let her loose, however, because I can see that they would hurt her more than she could hurt them. They would not hesitate to lash out at her, prove to each other that they are not afraid of some stupid dog, and I will not allow her to become their tool of badass expression.
They make me angry because I've never been concerned about living alone but I am now. It won't be an issue much longer -- The Boy and I are closing on a house as we speak, fingers crossed, and by this time next month I should be out of the apartment I've always loved but now despise and do not feel safe enough in -- but it is an issue NOW. I don't like feeling vulnerable, noticing how easy it would be to get into my apartment, or hide outside of it and wait quietly.
They make me angry because they are presumptuous. Every time they have approached me, I've been on the phone and had my dog on her leash outside, waiting for her to relieve herself. I am obviously occupied. They don't care, it does not phase them that they are intruding. They LIKE it, and their enjoyment drips out of their cocky grins, their leering eyes. I want to nutpunch them so hard, their grandsons will be impotent.
They make me angry because they persist. I have ignored them and yet they just keep it up.
Last night, I was on the phone with The Boy and waiting for the pup to do her thing in the grass, when the biggest of them (the one that does most of the talking) popped out from around the corner of his apartment. He said, "You want to see a cool trick?" and started toward me. My dog LOST. HER. DAMN. MIND. She started barking and lunging, snarling and growling at him, and he didn't stop coming. He didn't visibly register that she was there. I told him, "No, I don't want to see your trick and you should probably stay the fuck over there because she bites." Which... no, she doesn't. At least she never has. But she's also never put on this Big Tough Hound act, either, so who can say? Even my words and her obvious aggression did not stop him- he persisted, coming closer, and I said, "Seriously. She'll rip the shit out of you." He kind of laughed, and I went back to my phone conversation, which suddenly consisted of the boy saying, "Who is that? What the fuck does he want? What's going on? What's happening? Why is the dog barking like that? What's going on?" at a high rate of speed. Needless to say, I got the fuck back in the house because, oh, hello, giant strange man with obviously not-good intentions, I see you're suddenly 3 feet away! (And of course, my getting the fuck back in the house was done calmly and while ignoring him. Don't want to show the little pukebag that he had me riled.)
They make me angry because they scare me. I know better than to under estimate stupid people in large groups, and while I'm not saying that these boys (men?) are unintelligent, I'm saying that bravado makes a person do stupid things. Wanting to prove to your buddies how tough you are, how much of a man you are, makes a person do things that can be terrible. I don't like being scared. There are also never more than 6 of them, so I suppose that doesn't constitue a 'large' group, although they are all large individually. Tall, broad boys with the added weight of enormous chips on their shoulders... And I don't know that it would take more than one of a person that has 4 inches and 75 pounds on me to do some damage, if they had a mind to... Also: Working in the profession that I do, I feel reasonably secure in believing that these boys are not wholesome, sweet boys, but instead asshole fuckwads out to prove a point to the world. I don't want to be a point, and they seem to be trying to make me one. So I am a little bit afraid. And that pisses me right the hell off.
And I am at a loss. I don't know what to do, because I worry that whatever I do will make it worse. People like these get off on having control. If I were to confront them, they would know they are bothering me. If I continue ignoring them, they may take it as a sign of weakness. I just don't know what the hell to do.