About two weeks before I moved to NYC, my dad informed me that he would be buying me a pepper spray ring, and that I would wear it whenever I was walking
alone at night. (If you don’t know what these are, they are little rectangular “rings” that have a switch on the side- flip the switch, pepper spray shoots out of your jewelry. Into someone’s eye, hopefully.) I said, that’s nice of you, I love you, but no. (Really, they’re that ugly.) I guess he took my comment to heart because about a week later, he handed me an Ila Dusk. This is a British invention (where pepper spray is illegal) that is supposed to serve as a stylish way to protect yourself. The device looks like a charm you attach to your purse. Pull out the chain at the bottom of the charm, though, and a 130-decible female scream erupts out of the accessory, effectively screaming for you if you have been struck dumb. This, I could live with. I hooked it to my purse and forgot all about it.
Until a few days ago. I was shopping at a thrift store in my neighborhood, searching for flannel shirts for my new serving job. It was a small store, cramped and packed to the brim. As I was exiting the dressing room, I bumped into a banner and knocked it off of its nail. (Thank you, 10 + years of ballet for my excessive amount of grace and poise. ) I whipped around, bent down and quickly picked up the banner. As soon as I touched it, the thing started screaming at me. Loudly. For no apparent reason. My first thought was, “Wow, they put an alarm on a banner? Maybe it’s an antique…” I hung it back on its nail, hoping this would quiet the screaming…but nope. The banner continued to shriek at me. At this point, I had managed to garner every shopper’s attention. My cheeks began to burn as I stared hopelessly at the stupid piece of fabric, looking for some sort of hidden button or lever, anything that could get it to stop shrieking. That’s about the time I started to realize…the screaming was coming from me. Sort of. I looked down, and there, hanging on the outside of my purse was the Ila Dusk. And it was missing it’s chain.
I began to frantically search the surrounding area, employing the help of several
concerned shoppers, all the while keeping my thumb pressed against the speaker. Of course, 130 decibles doesn’t really stop because of a thumb, and the thing was going to keep screaming for ten minutes if I didn’t find the chain and reinsert the pin. While I searched, I kept up a constant stream of “Sorry”‘s and “It’s my personal alarm”‘s to the pretty steady flow of curious passersby. The screaming was so loud and, well, disturbing, that people were coming in off the street to see who was dying. Who was being killed. Who was having an emotional breakdown. With each person, my flailing and apologizing grew more frantic. I combed the rug with my eyes, praying for a glimmer of silver. Finally, after what felt like an eternity (and what was probably closer to a couple of minutes), I saw it. There, caught on a hanger, hung my chain. I tugged it off the hanger and reinserted the pin. A silence the likes of which I have never known filled the room, pressing in on my ear drums. My entire body was shaking. I could feel every eye on me. Of course, being the suave, quick-witted, intelligent person that I am, I had the perfect line to smooth this whole fiasco over.
Hopefully my mortifying experience saves some lives- everyone was rather interested in the device that had effectively burst their ear drums. And hey, at least I know it works, right?