The Great Escape

8 Aug

I am a fairly vigilant person, and take precautions against the world’s dangers. I have locks on my windows. I don’t give out personal information over the phone. I make sure to shower with my clothes on so that if I slip and die, the paramedics won’t have to look at my naked body.

I love to hike, and there is an inherent risk in being in the wilderness. Falling from great heights, changing course and getting lost, and wild animals that think your flesh tastes better than a Jack In The Box taco.

The woods also seem to attract homicidal maniacs. There are no shortage of films highlighting this fact:

High altitudes make people cray cray.

So it’s not surprising that I’m extra careful when I venture out into the forest. Sunblock? Check. Epi pen? Check. Water? Check. Not that any of this will help me avoid a murderous sociopath, but it’s nice to avoid sunburns, fatal allergic reactions, and dehydration.


Donatella Versace’s permanent sunburn: scarier than any murderer

Not long ago I went on a hike in Forest Park here in Portland, an impressive park boasting 80+ miles (128 km) of trails, and ample opportunities for wildlife spotting. I’m lucky not to live far from it, and frequent it as much as I can. Because of its vastness, it often feels more remote than it is.

As I got out of my car, a man came into my view at the trail head. He was either just getting done with his walk, or saw me in my baggy t-shirt and raggedy workout pants and thought, “Damn, I gotta get me some of that.”

We did the “Oregon nod” (mandatory friendliness between Oregonians) and I went on my way. The smell of the trees was intoxicating, and all I could hear were birds talking to one another.

Then I heard crunching noises, the sound of branches snapping beneath someone’s feet. I turned around, but didn’t see anything. Figuring it was just Sasquatch, I continued on.

Snap. Snap. Snap. This time I could tell it was someone walking, and not an animal. Again, I scanned, but nothing.

“What kind of Alfred Hitchcock fuckery is this?” I thought to myself.

I started to feel my anxiety building, but I’ve been good about calming myself down recently. You can only worry about your appliances rising up in the middle of the night and killing you so many times before you realize you have a problem.

TMF-FFHT2126LW-34V_950; renamed FRT21G2NW-34V_214


Breathe. Happy thoughts. Rationalize. Center myself.

“See? Nothing to worry about. This was like that time you thought your tits would fall off for no reason whatsoever and stumped doctors would have to name the ‘Jenbreastitis’ disease after you.”

CRUNCH. This time I turned around and saw someone approaching me. I focused my eyes and recognized the figure as the man I saw at the beginning of my walk. Why was he back on the trail when he had already finished his hike?

I picked up my pace, wanting to put some distance between us. I was trying to think of all the possible reasons he was there: he’s an exercise freak who just couldn’t get enough, he walked in the wrong direction and ended up at the wrong trail head, he wanted to kill me.

Obviously it was the last of the three.

I walked even faster, closer to a slow jog; this isn’t something I do unless I’m really scared. All of that bouncing doesn’t look good on a body like mine. A little bit of breast jiggling is sexy, but mine look like Mexican jumping beans when I really get going.

The man murderer was closing in on me, and I knew I was out of options. The only way back to my car was the way I came, and that wasn’t feasible with Hannibal Lecter on my tail.

Fava beans and Chianti are Hannibal's favorite post-hike snack

Fava beans and Chianti are Hannibal’s favorite post-hike snack

He began calling out to me, “Hey! Ma’am? Stop!”

Oh, right. Why don’t I just take the cleaver and slice my own limbs off while I’m at it?

Now he was running. Great. Why couldn’t I have run across one of those killers who is out of shape, and whose definition of running is of the gun variety?

He was only a few yards behind me when I decided to turn around and confront him.

“NO! DON’T HURT ME! I’m 31 and I have Life Alert! The authorities are coming!” That was a lie, nobody was coming for me. Well, except for the Grim Reaper.

He looked at me quizzically, almost stunned. “Hurt you? No. You left these in your car door.”

He extended his hand, and at the end were my keys. My keys. FUCK. My keys. He was trying to return them to me, knowing that leaving them there could result in the theft of my vehicle.

“Whoa. I’m sorry. I watch too much Law & Order. You’re very un-murdery. Thank you so much.”

“Right. Okay. Well, have a good day.”

He left, and I stood there contemplating my overactive imagination. After the huge wave of shame finished washing over me, I headed back to my car.

Cost of gas to get to the park: $1.00

Cost of cross trainers used on the hike: $80

Cost of accusing a good samaritan of being a complete psychopath: priceless

95 Responses to “The Great Escape”

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  2. Kim13 11/11/2013 at 11:08 pm #

    Omgosh, I would have thought the same things! You have an amazing knack for writing…I hope to learn something here! I love that you made me smile.

  3. omtatjuan 09/25/2013 at 8:03 am #

    Does that woman in her own mind think in any way she looks nice… What is it with those lips..?

  4. The Hook 09/12/2013 at 9:26 am #

    The guy was lucky you weren’t packing!

  5. El Guapo 09/08/2013 at 7:52 pm #

    And then I realized that it’s a month since you posted.
    Hope all is well, Jen.

  6. Miss Snarky Pants 08/30/2013 at 4:05 pm #

    The only reason I didn’t have a heart attack when you heard that first snap behind you is because I knew you lived to tell the tale. I feel ya, girl. We’ve been watching “Dexter” nearly every night, trying to cram eight seasons into one month of On Demand viewing – and I find myself waking in the middle of the night because I hear a noise, a noise that turns out to be a stray ice cube that melted its way out of the refrigerator ice dispenser and onto the floor. I suppose it could have landed there with the intent of making me slip and crack my head open, but I’m way too smart for my fridge. I wear socks to bed. No Ice Cube Killer is gonna get me! Awesome post. Hilarious and REAL.

  7. theclocktowersunset 08/20/2013 at 4:39 am #

    I had a girlfriend once that wasn’t worried about the guy who stopped in front of our house to ask her if she needed a ride , while she was walking the dog. Or didn’t think to call the cops about the masturbating man in the bushes on the corner. But was deathly afraid the little boy from the grudge was living in our closet and would come out at night when I was out of town. Not sure how all that works with women. Don’t know where I’m going but y’all sure do pick your moments. Help me figure this out so I can make y’all safe when it’s necessary and calm you when you need it. Sincerely, one of the good guys

  8. beingnenne 08/19/2013 at 5:05 am #

    Ha ha! You turned a nightmarish episode into a fun post. Kudos for that. But I completely relate, specially to that walk-jog part, often having had to do it myself thanks to my overactive imagination. But hey, its not our faulty, nor the fault of the movies, there has been one too many scary and crazy story on the news for us not to be worried about. Like someone posted above, better safe than sorry!

    Following you, find me at

  9. Anna Lea West 08/14/2013 at 7:07 am #

    You’re funny and I’m only just now finding you! DIED over this: Oh, right. Why don’t I just take the cleaver and slice my own limbs off while I’m at it?

  10. thoughtsappear 08/12/2013 at 11:43 am #

    Boobies can fall off? Is that contagious?

    My friend just got assaulted on her doorstep last week. Better safe than sorry.

  11. Redneckprincess 08/11/2013 at 11:51 am #

    That is so something I would do, except I have bear spray…and the poor guy may have not fared as well. Thanks for the laugh 🙂

  12. BrainRants 08/10/2013 at 8:13 am #

    So have you considered mace? Or one of those ear-destroying rape horns? Just saying… chemical warfare works. Also, thanks for the Versace picture. I will be ruined for weeks. To mirror someone above, I have old, dry, cracked, dusty, bled-on combat boots that look sexier than her. Ick.

  13. rollergiraffe 08/10/2013 at 12:40 am #

    My tits fell off once. It wasn’t great.

    Umm.. no, I think the no matter how Oregonion you are, he could have yelled “HAY LAYDEE, YOUR KEES” first, just to ease the tension a bit.

  14. Madame Weebles 08/09/2013 at 3:00 pm #

    Yeah, I would have wet myself if that happened to me. Before AND after he revealed himself to be merely a good citizen type. But what the fuck, he could have said, “Hey, miss, you left your keys in the car!” instead of tailing you and scaring the fuck outta you.

    Also, it’s very clear that you and I should never go on an overnight camping trip together. We’d probably freak ourselves out just by shining flashlights under our chins to tell scary stories.

    And of course, I’m with you on the jogging boob issue. Mine look like two cats fighting in a bag. It’s not pretty.

  15. calahan 08/09/2013 at 2:57 pm #

    Ironically, your distrust destroyed his last shred of hope for mankind and he immediately went on a killing spree at a nearby summer camp for sexually active teenagers. Way to go, Jen!

  16. She's a Maineiac 08/09/2013 at 10:07 am #

    I would have shit myself. Oh my god!! So funny though, after the fact.

    Years ago when I was in my early 20s, my mom and I were walking on a path near the ocean and a man jumped out and flashed us. Yes. He had passed us earlier on the path wearing only shorts. Next time we saw him he was holding the shorts in his hands and asked us, “Do you have the time?” My mom laughed at said, “Time? I think time is the least of your worries, pal!” I think that caught him off guard because he took off running.

    Of course, we had to report him to the gatekeeper at the park and the cop arrived and asked me for a description and I said, “uh, I wasn’t exactly looking at his face.” (eventually this man was caught after flashing three other women walking alone in various parks)

    The moral of this story is–always carry mace. They could be giving you your car keys or flashing you their junk. You just never know.

  17. UndercoverL 08/09/2013 at 8:19 am #

    Totally off topic, but I keep having nightmares that my saline implants pop for no reason… so I understand the fear of Jenbreastitis. (Gratification: my phone doesn’t even see that as a spelling error, so it must be real. Now I am jealous that you have a disease named after you.). But on a real note, I am pretty sure you cheated death because why would the guy stop walking when you stopped walking and why would he not call out when you stopped to source the noise? He was certainly a murderer who used his 3D printer to clone your keys as a cover story for his homicidal tendencies. I am just glad that your threat about Life Alert foiled his plot.

  18. Monk Monkey 08/09/2013 at 2:28 am #

    Haha! PS Donatello has really let himself go. He looks even older than Splinter.

  19. vyvacious 08/09/2013 at 12:45 am #

    Thank you for the laugh :)) It’s been much too long!

  20. iRuniBreathe 08/08/2013 at 6:16 pm #

    Ha haaaaaa!! Alfred Hitchcock fuckery — priceless.
    I so understand how watching L & O can lead to a skewed sense of reality, but also an overprotective sense of survival. I’m glad you got your keys back. I’ve heard that if you are assaulted they can be used to claw out a villain’s eyeballs, if one might so wish to do so.

  21. Kylie 08/08/2013 at 5:24 pm #

    Jen, there are bodies buried all over that park. Can’t believe you went up there alone!!!

    Also: today’s Oregonian has an article about the cray-crays who shoot up trees and living room furniture and possibly people in our national forests. You’ll have to add a bullet proof vest to your equipment.

  22. beckysaysthings 08/08/2013 at 1:54 pm #

    Ohhhhhhhh heavens to Betsy I love this. I would have done exactly the same. I regularly think these thoughts, but you have articulated it with ‘What kind of Alfred Hitchcock fuckery is this’. Thank you for that 😉

    • Jen and Tonic 08/08/2013 at 4:20 pm #

      I give you permission to use that to any situation in your life that it applies to.

  23. mollytopia 08/08/2013 at 1:25 pm #

    Bahahaha “you’re very un-murdery.” I love it – great post!

    • Jen and Tonic 08/08/2013 at 4:19 pm #

      I don’t know why I said that. He didn’t see it as the compliment I meant it as.

      • mollytopia 08/08/2013 at 4:27 pm #

        Oh c’mon – that’s a total compliment!

  24. Bill Friday 08/08/2013 at 11:36 am #

    You’re not painting a very good Greater Portland Bureau of Tourism and Future Residency picture right now. Either Portland is the home of all sorts of potential cases for the B.A.U. (and Matthew Gray Gubler), or you’ve just tipped us all off that Portland’s tap water causes paranoid delusions.

    So… Blogger Interactive meetup for PDX in 2014?

    • Jen and Tonic 08/08/2013 at 4:19 pm #

      Don’t even UTTER Matthew Gray Gubler’s name on this blog anymore. Word on that street is that he’s dating Taylor Swift.

      You know, I think you’d be scary if you were chasing someone in the woods. You’ve got “serial killer beard” you know.

      • Bill Friday 08/08/2013 at 9:36 pm #

        I hear MGG is only dating her because he’s Executive Producing a new Reality TV show starring every ex-boyfriend who ever ended up in a song lyric written by Tay-Tay. Either that, or he’s directing an upcoming episode of Criminal Minds, where a country singer is killed by Jake Gyllenhall.

  25. Samantha 08/08/2013 at 11:09 am #

    I nearly laughed out loud at the REDRUM refrigerator.

    I would have been creeped out too. He should have called out immediately instead of creepily following you crunching branches before saying anything. And he could have immediately said, “You left your keys!” *shakes head* So clueless. Nice, but clueless.

    • Jen and Tonic 08/08/2013 at 4:18 pm #

      My fridge has been humming all day, letting me know it’s pissed off that I revealed it’s secret here on the internet. Great.

      And yes, you’d think he’d say something well before. Although, I don’t know how I’d react if someone screamed at me from a distance.

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