Unless you count elbowing sorority girls to get a bartender’s attention, I’ve never been involved in a real NYC tussle.
But at 5-foot-2 and 115 pounds — OK, maybe a little more post-lockdown — perhaps I should hone my combat skills. After all, crime is apparently on the rise and women are stepping up their self-defense game.
Peter Tay, a jujitsu instructor who teaches one-on-ones in the Flatiron District, told me that in the past six months, he’s seen a 30% jump in inquiries from women, including a few from the Upper West Side where locals have clashed with the city in the courts for turning hotels into homeless shelters.
“Two of my girls say they can’t walk down their street without being harassed,” said Tay, who teaches chokeholds and takedowns to 10 to 15 students a week.
Unsure about my abilities to deliver a damning blow, I found the next best thing: a personal security app, called Bond, that offers trained bodyguards you can book by the half-hour on demand.
It’s body men for the everyman, not just high-profile politicians and celebs. I decided to test it out and hired a guard to meet me outside my apartment, on a busy corner in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. It was like booking an Uber, except in this case, I got a few pre-screening calls from HQ about any known threats (no) and whether I wanted my guy to be armed (yes).
It felt top secret and cool, even though I knew our day’s itinerary would hardly approach “Zero Dark Thirty.”
My guard, a 6-foot-1 dude named Ira, had spent most of his career in the NYPD Intelligence Bureau, a job which included protecting presidents, foreign dignitaries, the dalai lama and the pope. So, as the former treasurer of my eighth grade class, I felt reasonably safe.
Ira’s services cost $87.50 for three and a half hours, which was half off thanks to promotional pricing.
I let Ira know that we’d be having a low-key day: We’d start off by grabbing coffee with my roommate in tow. Stoop dwellers, nannies with strollers and baristas certainly took note of his dark sunglasses and commemorative NYPD lapel pin.
“He’s a bodyguard for normal people,” I explained to the barista, who seemed disappointed there wasn’t a true entourage-worthy customer in the store.
Ira and I swung by the grocery store after our morning coffee. He stayed a few feet behind me and on my right side as we walked, so he could push me out of the way with his left arm and grab his gun with his right if the need arose.
I grabbed a few pantry basics while he cased the produce aisle for any shadowy characters. Again, the store owner inquired as to what we were doing there, and told me how Loretta Lynch, the former US attorney general, used to shop at this Foodtown with body men, too.
Next, I decided to take a jog in the park in the spirit of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was recently interviewed on “60 Minutes” and was shown exercising outside with security, a necessary precaution for him and his family.
On my run, there were mostly preschool playgroups around, but at least I had someone to watch out for rogue bikers.
Ira opted to watch me from the tree line beside the track, while I ran within eyeshot.
On the way home, we stopped at the ATM and the liquor store. In his career as a private detail, Ira has dealt with high rollers. He’s guarded the kids of financial bigwigs while they partied in Cabo for spring break, and even the cash-filled suitcases of Saudi princes while they go out shopping.
Me? I took out 40 bucks, and bought a bottle of Lillet. Then it was back to my walk-up, where I thanked Ira for his services on what I fear was the most boring day of his life.
Still, a boring day of bodyguarding is the best kind to have.
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