A friend of mine recently warned me that by confining myself to Rapunzel’s tower (minus the tresses), I might miss out on finding love. I answered, “It’s hard to not be guarded. I watch a lot of SVU.”
My mother is the kind of person who is convinced that things like father-daughter incest and bestiality are signs of the end of days, so it’s no surprise to me that she has somewhat of a rape-news-story scanner in her head. Every few weeks, she warns me about the latest “danger-suburbs” and gives me some generic tip she has recently heard: “Don’t wear earphones whilst walking alone at night in desolate areas.” She’s not crazy, just really cautious. Apparently, this apple didn’t fall very far from the tree.
When I first started watching SVU as a (self-proclaimed) precocious young adult, I thought I was being really smart by studying up on precautionary tales. Back then I used to believe I might meet the love of my life by accidentally running into them around a library aisle corner. I would drop my books everywhere; he would pick them up and marvel that we happen to be reading the same book. It would be love at first sight. Years later, I now have a tendency to think that every stranger who smiles at me for no apparent reason must be some form of predatory rapist. Someone walks alongside me for more than two blocks must be waiting for a witness-free area to shove me into and attack me. A middle-aged woman who attempts friendliness by asking nondescript questions about my parents must be the den mother of a pimp-house, trying to suss out if I have family who would look for me if I disappeared. I can’t seem to stop myself from turning everyday interactions into elaborate SVU storylines. At first, I thought it was the result of a hyperactive imagination and the over-exposure to television’s crime genre. But the more time that passes (with back-to-back SVU episodes), the more legitimate it all seems.
The dialogue of contemporary singletons seems to be filled a smothering amount of optimistic platitudes, like “you just have to be open to finding love” and “if you never try, you’ll never know”. They’re also a tad saccharine, let’s be real. Amongst this landscape, people tend to categorise my fear of something shitty happening (like rape or murder) as irrational and dramatic. But really, isn’t it just as irrational to buy into the other side that television sells? The one where life is constantly hilarious and filled with romance, coincidence and risks working out?
At least SVU has counteracted the hoards of fairytales that filled my younger self with naivety and unrealistic life expectations and armed me with the security of preparedness and an arsenal of worst-case scenarios. I know that if you get raped by a masked man, the next guy to enter your life and comfort you could be the rapist who orchestrated it all. Your sweet, nerdy IT guy can end up planting cameras all over your house to watch you shower, poop and sleep. Basically, you can’t trust anybody because it could lead to getting creeped on, raped or murdered. With this in mind, how can I really be open to finding love? My best idea so far is to never reveal my address until I’ve done a thorough background check, clandestinely followed them around a bit and maybe conducted some informal interviews with exes. In other words, suss out possible creepers by being the creeper.
Let’s be real. There is probably a freak down this path who will abduct me and force me to play a sick game where he lets me go, sets a pack of dogs after me soon after and hunts me with a tranquiliser gun. Not knowing, or not being hunted by a psychopath. Hmmm. Pretty tough choice.
Written by Irnin Khan