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Newsflash: If you go out alone as a single woman, you will not fall prey to a gang of ruffians.

January 10, 2013

My go-to relationshit sounding board had yet another good point last night: some people jump right into major life decisions without hesitation, eagerly taking the next step as it arises. Then there’s people like us, who make intricate pro-con lists out of decisions like whether to eat breakfast at the bagel place or the coffee shop. I tend to apply that line of thinking to major life choices as well, so when it comes to decisions like having children or, say, ending a six-year relationship, I factor in peer-reviewed studies, newspaper articles, op-ed pieces, and my own personal take on the situation before drawing a conclusion.

This meant that I spent at least a good two months seriously weighing whether it was better to soldier on or wave the white flag in my relationship. Ultimately, as you may have guessed, the cons of being in the relationship outweighed the pros. I had needs that I felt were not being addressed on his end, and my desire for any intimacy with him had disappeared sometime around August (to put it mildly, it’s not a good sign when your reaction to your boyfriend cuddling up to you in bed on a chilly night is shouting, “Help! I’m being smothered!” to your cackling friend in the next room).

But of course, there were pros to staying the course, or it would have ended a lot more quickly. And I’m almost ashamed to admit that most of my reasons for remaining with my ex included silly concerns like what to say to passing acquaintances in establishments we frequented when asked where my partner in crime was. For me, the largest of these petty issues was the fact that I’d still want to visit some of my favorite downtown bars and restaurants during the nighttime hours they’re open, but unless I could convince my friends who don’t have my same schedule to come along, I’d have to go alone. As a single woman.

This is not to say that my ex is a physically imposing person. He always lost when we had arm-wrestling matches, even when I let him use both hands. One of my favorite pictures of us featured me holding him like a proud groom about to carry his blushing bride across the threshold. Even still, the idea was that if we ran into any villainous sorts on our way downtown, I could throw a few punches while he ran for help. 

But ultimately, even the nagging voice of my dead mother convincing me that eight million women are raped per second in downtown Denver echoing in my head couldn’t save our relationship. After all, I like to do research. I looked at metro-area crime reports. I considered the high number of police officers patrolling my usual routes to and from the 16th Street Mall in their search for drunks causing trouble. I reminded myself that the bus route nearest my house runs at least every 15 minutes 24 hours a day, and the drivers do not have time for some wannabe thug’s bullshit. 

I also recalled the overall statistics on theft and violent crime. Yeah, Aurora, the next town east of me, obviously has something alarming in the water supply. But incidents that have made the news in the past year are the exception rather than the rule. 

I have had the opportunity to put my theory to the test of late. Wanting to drink with my first ex-husband without risking a DUI, I took the light rail to reach his place in the suburbs. Doing this involved taking the aforementioned 24-hour bus, where the driver helpfully pointed out that my bus tickets had expired on December 31st but let me stay on anyway, and then transferring to the light rail.

I’ve had enough funny encounters with strangers on the 15 to start a whole ‘nother blog, but this time was remarkably peaceful. The worst that happened between finding out about my expired tickets and reaching my friend’s house was having a panhandler beg me for a lighter and stare at me contemptuously (!) when I told him I didn’t smoke. I got to my friend’s place, had some mixed drinks for the first time in months, then made my way back home at 12:22 a.m., where the ride was even less eventful than on the way out. 

Granted, the plural of anecdote is not data, and certainly not when the anecdote itself is singular. But my overall lack of troubling experiences in central Denver, both by myself and with my ex, tells me that as long as I follow RTD’s schedule and the rules of common sense, I don’t need no man shepherding me around. I am woman. Hear me count out change for the bus until I get these tickets exchanged. After carefully evaluating whether it’s worth my time to go downtown for that reason alone when I have all these dollar coins lying around anyway.

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