*Subjects expressed permission to use their names
One of the most daunting moments to ever happen to us occurred while we were at Naples during out first solo trip ever. It was a Saturday evening, and we had gotten back from the beach, so we were hungry. We decided on a restaurant and while everyone took turns showering and getting ready, 10:30 hit.
As soon as we left the hotel, we drove to the restaurant, but the main avenue was blocked off to give room for a street art expo. Instead of seeing a constant flow of cars passing through and parking by the metered spaces, it was completely desolate, and the street was filled with covered kiosks. I parked the car in a small lot close to the side/back end of the restaurant. We walked towards the front and we were seated in a round table closest to the sidewalk, and everything is normal. We ordered our food, we talked, joked around, and ate. Then, my friend Angelica gets up from the table to walk around the street (but still in the perimeter of the restaurant) and Veronica accompanies her. Once they both come back to the table, they mention two strange, middle-aged, white men. One of them eerily and slowly waved his hand at Angelica—almost straight out of a slasher film. As they were walking towards the direction of our table, one of them got a little too close to Angelica as well.
Clearly, it was not just two perverted old men trying to hit on my friends, but two perverted old men with more seriously corrupt motives. As we sit at the table waiting for the check, almost all of my friends point out that those men have passed by our table several times, looking at our reflection in the restaurant’s glass windows. Angelica suddenly gets up and asks to go to the car, and I accompany her—she doesn’t explain why, but I assumed she wanted to get away from the loud music and hectic ambience. As we walk to the car, it starts getting darker as the lot we parked in is very dimly lit, and this triggers a panic attack in Angelica. The second we get in the car I turn on the engine and immediately lock the doors. As Angelica is still going through the panic attack, we see Daniela and Veronica running towards the car at full speed. Seeing them frightened me and I was praying that no one was behind them. It took me a second to react and unlock the doors, but when I did, they were both freaking out and talking at the same. Both of them told us that they saw both of the men on the phone, clearly talking with each other and saying “Yea, I see you” and signaling to where Angelica and I walked to. Once Veronica and Daniela saw this, they got up from the table and the two men started going in their direction—Daniela noticed this and they both started running towards the car. Our friend Melissa stayed at the table to pay the bill; there were still customers and waiters, so it was safe.
At the end of the day, our hyperawareness—something girls are all experts at, unfortunately—helped us act quick enough. All we could think of was how many women have gone through the same experience, or worse. Men need to be held accountable for their predatory and unwanted attention.