itsPortAdelaide on Unsplash
Photo by itsPortAdelaide on Unsplash


Colleen OBrien
6 min readJan 14, 2021


“The guy I am dating gave me two tourniquets. One for my car and one for my purse”.

“Wait, what? The Secret Service guy?”

“No, he is a venture capitalist. I’m not dating the Secret Service guy anymore.”

“Wait, what?”

“We broke up.”

“No, not the Secret Service guy, the tourniquets.”

“Just in case, he said.”

“Just in case what?!”

“I need a tourniquet.”

“Why the fuck would you need a tourniquet, much less two? Did you put one in your car? In your purse? How big are they? How are they fundamentally different from a shoelace?”

I don’t even know what to do with this.

Run! I want to say. Run for your life and back into the arms of the Secret Service guy. At least he can protect you from the psychopath who gave you not one but two tourniquets.

This conversation I had with my very smart, savvy, educated, competent, did I mention smart girlfriend.

This begs the question, how prepared do we need to be? And for what exactly?

Should we have an extra in the bedside table? In the shower? I can’t stop.

I am not sure why this has impacted me so.

True confession:

I live on the beach where from time to time I, or my very observant daughter (mostly her) have seen the lone fin surface right off shore. Not in a pod, or in a playful motion. Not rising through the surface in a swoop but in a gradual ascent moving ever so steadily through the water. It is a shark fin. There is a difference in the way that sharks surface and move through the water. We usually notice when no one is in the water and perhaps this is because swimmers and surfers and all of their splashing about would not afford the blank slate on which we might notice the lone fin. Apparently the neighbors have named our resident Great White Shark. Bruce. He is a juvenile. Oh well, no big deal. They are much smaller, they say. Only 9–12 feet in length as opposed to full grown at 20 feet.

They have been here all along and no one, as I find some wood to knock on quickly, has been attacked. I personally would faint and drown if I were in the water and saw one. Which is why I, if you ever see me in the ocean over my head, will be wearing a life jacket.

There is a huge metaphor in there, in case you missed it.

Many of my neighbors have seen Bruce. Many neighbors, many times apparently. Right in front of my house where my children have frolicked, boogie boarded, and surfed their entire lives.

Back to the confession. I have thought about this situation and wondered what I might do if someone were attacked in front of my house. What if they managed to somehow, because I am sorry to say I would not swim out and save them, find their way onto shore with a missing limb. What would I do, you ask. I would tourniquet what was remaining. I have thought this through.

I am a survivalist. I imagine crazy scenarios and I carefully consider how I would respond. I am aware that we can do this all day long and that one catastrophe we never contemplated much less prepared for, will happen. I understand this phenomenon. Nonetheless, I am somewhat prepared for a half eaten body to wash up in front of my house. I have considered what I might use for a tourniquet. If I were running, I would use a shoelace. If I were in the kitchen I would grab something. Maybe those strings for sewing up the turkey’s butt (or is it the neck we are meant to sew up?) that no one actually uses, but saves. A phone charger, if there is a single one to be found despite the fact that I have purchased hundreds? I could use my bra. I could use a dog leash. Despite all of my tourniquet rumination and my subsequent preparedness, I have never considered purchasing one. I am not even certain that I have considered that there is such a thing for sale. Do they have them in the hospitals? In the ambulances? That at least makes a bit more sense. But at the same time quite frightening as I would hope they have something a little more sophisticated. But in the handbag of my urban sophisticated girlfriend? In her Audi 9000. Is that an actual car? If it is I am certain that is the car she drives. I don’t know.

Where did the venture capitalist buy the tourniquets? Is there a survivalist store? Website? What else do they sell? How do I not know about this? Does he have some also? Has he found them useful?

What on earth compelled him to purchase two tourniquets for my girlfriend? Or did he simply deplete his own supply? I have so many questions. I think I need to talk to him. I am fascinated not only by the idea of a tourniquet for sale but more so by his intentions.

Where do preparedness and catastrophic thinking collide in a disaster beyond our wildest fantasies?

I live in Southern California. I do not have an earthquake preparedness kit as advertised and pushed with urgency many times during my lifetime in California. Mostly this happens immediately following an earthquake. I take that back. I received one as a gift. I believe from my step-mother in my late teens. I put it in the back of my car as that is where I actually live. I have imagined being stranded after an earthquake has taken down all of the freeway over and underpasses, preventing me from getting home, unless of course my home has been washed away in a tsunami, in which case I would still want to go somewhere. I have always kept a pair of running shoes in my car for this very scenario although that is all I really wear these days so maybe unnecessary.

Was he trying to demonstrate to her that he would take care of her? He would keep her safe? Safe from bleeding out? Was he sending a signal? Super odd yet perhaps a simple kind and loving gesture?

Which brings me to the bigger questions. Do men want to take care of us? Do we want to be taken care of?

I was told once that yes, both are true. We may burn our bras and proclaim our competency and our independence, yet at our core, we want someone to want to take care of us. This is very different from needing someone to take care of us. I am speaking of those of us who are very capable of taking care of ourselves yet may also want someone to want to take care of us?

I have been accused of being too competent. Not needy enough (logistically). I am by design, not choice. I do not have a person to fix things and protect me from things that go bump in the night. I am the protector in my home. I am the one who has planned for most anything imaginable. I have been called to task more than once and I have prevailed. Does this intimidate men? Please. I am not that competent, by the way. I am certain a man might do many of the things I am forced to do, much better than I.

After many decades since first hearing this (from a man) and much contemplation, I do believe so. As women, we feel treasured and important when someone wants to take care of us. I am clearly not a man, yet I venture to think that a man might feel important and worthy if he were able and willing to care for someone.

Do we all want to feel worthy and important? We do.

Again, I ask, why has this impacted me so?

Perhaps I am envious, as no one has ever given me a tourniquet.