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Don’t walk away from danger, run

By Jan Miller Penton

My friends and I thought going to the big city of New Orleans and celebrating Mardi Gras was just about the most exciting thing ever! Even though most of our parents wanted us to stay out of the mass of people in the French Quarter, or maybe partly because of that, we got a large group together and headed for the Bacchus parade.
Throngs of people, all seemingly in high spirits filled the streets. Since I was a somewhat sheltered small town girl some of the sights shocked my sensibilities, but the jovial party mood of the crowd excited and called me to loosen up a little. After all these were just people out to have a little fun, weren’t they?
And in all actuality I’m sure most of them were. Gwen and I decided we needed to find a restroom and left our crowd to find one. We were young, fresh faced girls, and unfortunately our youth and inexperience made us vulnerable to the more unsavory side of life.
Before we had traveled a block or two from our friends and relative safety, a long haired rather greasy looking drunk grabbed my friend and kissed her long and hard on the lips. I moved all 115 pounds of myself into action and hit him as hard as I could yelling at him to leave my friend alone. The drunk guy let go of her, and we ran away as fast as we could.
The crowd parted as we ran, but soon we noticed the drunk had enlisted his equally scraggly looking friend to catch us! Talk about scared! We ran and ran this way and that until they gave up the chase. Our sides felt as if they would split, and even though we were young and in shape our lungs burned as we panted to catch our breath.
Soon my breathing returned to normal, and the rapid beating of my heart slowed in tempo. I looked around in distress. This place made my skin crawl; it seemed that everyone was staring at us with questioning eyes. Their eyes seemed to hold not only a question, but also an invitation.
“Come and join in our party. You may be young, but we’ll be glad to welcome you.”
Thankfully, I sensed danger.
“Come on, let’s get out of here. This place gives me the creeps.”
This time the invitation was more subtle than that of the first two guys, and my friend and I had had more excitement already than we had bargained for. Finally, we made our way into a bar and were able to use their facilities, and ask for directions back to our friends watching the parade.
When we caught a glimpse of our friends laughing and having a good time relief poured over us. Gwen and I had learned several valuable although tough lessons. Everyone is not good and kind. Stay with your friends, and if that still, small voice says danger, don’t walk away…run!