Thought No. 18: Sunday / by Jennifer Wisniewski

"The shower scene."

I’m in a new place, so a bit of mild paranoia is normal. There are new surroundings, neighbors and sounds – but I try to calm down and reassure myself that nothing bad is going to happen. “Don’t let fear get the best of you”, I say in my mind. “Now, go get in the shower!” After all, Psycho is just a movie. A great movie – but I’m a grown woman and there is nothing to be afraid of.

As I am “suds’ing up”, I hear a series of thuds and then a unfamiliar male voice outside of the bathroom door saying “hello”. My worst fear has now been realized. I start screaming “HELP!”, as loudly as I can –  in hopes that the intruder will panic and go back to where he came from. Even as I am yelling for my life, I realize instantly what an utter waste of time and energy it is. I can barely hear my own yelps over the water and the acoustics in the basement bathroom. As I am screaming like a maniac, the voice on the other end of the door says, “Jenny! Jenny! It’s me, Jeff, your landlord”.

The blood has seemingly been drained from my body and I am now trembling. I feel like I’m moving through glue. I manage to turn off the water, put my robe on and wrap a towel around my head. I slowly open the bathroom door to find my landlord sheepishly standing there, holding a door knob in his hands. He is muttering something about how he knocked but no one answered, so he let himself in to fix the door.

He was very apologetic – but my mind is racing. How he can be confused on the right and wrong of this situation? How did he not turn around and leave when he heard the shower running? (Not to mention the fact that he walked in without verbal consent from me.)

After it happened, I called my business partner, Lisa. Before I even got into the shower that morning we were talking about our safety. This week, my friend’s apartment was broken into and he was very shaken up. He didn’t even want to go back into his place to retrieve his belongings – and he’s a big dude.  Bread & Wine has been robbed before, so Lisa and I are always on high alert. The truth is: I’ve been on high alert since I was born. There is never a time when I am not thinking, somewhere in the crevice of my mind, if I am safe or unsafe. It’s a constant ringing bell, sometimes it’s louder than other times. Of course, there is nothing to fear but fear itself … until the unimaginable happens.

Everyone I spoke with had a different point of view of my ordeal. Lisa thinks walking into my apartment without my knowledge was his mistake, but not leaving after he heard the shower is a cause for concern. Ryan thought it was all a big misunderstanding. My sister Mary feels like there are hidden cameras and he’s watching my every move. (She has asked me to call our friend who owns a security company to sweep the apartment.) Aric, jokingly, said he came to change my knobs.

As I laid in bed that evening, my heart went out to Ann Romano from One Day at a Time. She was harassed by Schneider incessantly. He walked in whenever he wanted – and, in the show, she was characterized as a high-strung woman who needed to loosen up and accept his inappropriate behavior.  However, I’m not laughing now. There’s no laugh track for this episode.

Best,

Jen