Mystic Metals Body Jewelry
The Affronted Femailman
My Pertinent Reality
My brain and body have decided to revolt in a way that can only be described as dangerously melancholy. It's really nothing exciting or different. Happens a lot, and I know (sort of) how to deal with it. The problem is that it skews my perception of things. I'm looking for a fight, inspecting the minutia of strangers' behaviors and words trying to excavate something to rage about. The trick is to maintain my calm. Like John Spartan. If you get that awful joke, you're a Goddamned nerd and we should hang out. Moving on.
Story time. Here we go. The setting is the bookstore because, really, where else do I go. The main characters are people I don't know, with brief appearances by people I sort of know. And then there's me. It'll be a gas. Let's get on it.
I roll into the bookstore and sidle up to the cue. Waiting in line, I notice that a book floor employee is working the cafe, which means the cafe person is on break. The line is slow, which in the grand machine of my day means very little. Behind me, stands a dude who only arrived at the end of the line after wondering around in a bizarre hobo box step. He was ragged, large dark sunglasses, and a hood covering his head. Though he was next in line, he was standing a good distance from me. Whatever. He didn't exist in my pertinent reality just yet. A lovely young woman arrives to join the line. Short girl, but I'm in my wheelchair so everyone is a giant to me, dark hair and a sweet smile. She walks to the end of the line, stands two or three feet from the Dr. Hood Weirdo, and says, "Are you in line?"
As a side note, I know there is some colloquial phasing of in line or on line, and I'm not sure what the right one is; and now that I'm thinking about it, I'm not even sure which I say regularly.
This crazy Rorschach looking dude points to his ear and says, "I don't hear you." The lovely girl repeats. "I can't see you either," the man responds. He makes odd, fake sign language gestures towards an impulse buy magazine rack which creates the cattle shoot of the line. "Ok," the girl says, "I just wanted to know if you were in line." The dude then kind of loses his shit. "Don't talk to me, please. Why are you talking to me? I'm just standing here."
Sitting in my chair, I'm listening to this with my thumbs buried in my phone with work, and deep down I'm hoping he does something crazy so I have an excuse to fistfight a stranger. I really want to fistfight a stranger. Like, a lot.
The lovely girl kind of didn't let it go, and says, "I'm just trying to be polite. Forget it." An odd pause with that unique tension of interacting with a stranger with whom you really don't want to interact. A moment passes. Crazy dude then aggressively says, "Can you stand back? You're standing too close to me. Stand back please." The woman was still about three feet or more from him. "I haven't moved, and I'm not going to move," she says. "Stop talking to me. I asked you before," the dude says. People not involved, like myself, are now on alert and uncomfortable.
Though the haze of this nonsense, one of the book floor employees whom I know comes floating her beauty by knowing nothing of this odd interaction taking place. I smile and say, "Hey," as cheerily as people expect from non-confrontational social interaction. She smiles her fantastic grin and says hello. The weird dude says hello back to her as if she were talking to him. She says hi. Then weird dude tries to appeal to her about the young lady who is still standing behind him politely. "She won't back off of me and is trying to intimidate me. Do something about it. I can't hear or see." My bookstore employee friend goes into customer service mode. She gets the story from each of them. When weird dude realizes that my friend is likely to side with the lovely girl, he loses his shit a little more, saying, "You're trying to intimidate me. The both of you. You can't intimidate me because you're a woman. You're trying to be an intimidating woman." I let a laugh sneak out of my beard. I stifle it quickly, and me and the lovely girl and my employee friend share a 'what the fuck' smile. My employee friend hangs around for the comfort of the lovely girl, which is a good play, and this makes weird cat anxious. He goes on another tirade about women intimidating him (which he says they can't do to him, even though he says they're doing it or some such bullshit), and decides to get out of line while bitching about the two of them. He's followed and eventually forced to leave by other staff. The entire interaction takes five or seven minutes.
The lovely girl is behind me now, and we chat about the dumb interaction that just took place. She's a sweet girl, a mailman (or femailman or whatever), and we share a 'can you believe that guy' laugh. At the counter, I buy her drink for her. She's resistant but appreciative. We introduce, and she leaves.
What's the point of this story. First, it happened to me today, and my readers keep asking me to talk about shit that happens to me on the daily. Which is kind of boring to me, but I suppose is interesting to my readers because my readers didn't experience the thing I experienced. Like how you don't realize that your job is neat because you do it everyday. Except Matt. His job sucks.
Secondly, this interaction made me have feelings. Yeah, I know; I thought I cauterized those away a long time ago too. Apparently feelings are important to interpersonal relationships, though some of my friends' boyfriends have yet to learn that. (Cheap shot.) Anyway, feelings. As a handicap, I have this detached sense of masculinity. Yeah, I know; that's a gender role thing and it's 2015 and we don't think that way and blah, blah, blah. In my reality, it still matters; and yes, it's possible for it to matter without being a misogynist. As a boy or young man, you think that you're prepared for anything. You think that you can snap into commando mode (or Commando mode if you're carrying around a young Alyssa Milano) and deal with any situation that reality hands you. Especially when it comes to protecting people. I don't know where that comes from, DNA or Chuck Norris movies, and since this is a blog, research is at a minimum. (Pretty much limited to the spelling of Milano.) Regardless, I think anyone of my age has some sort of mutated self within who feels as if he can be a vigilante of goodness when the time comes. I didn't do that in this bookstore situation, and that upsets me.
I didn't say anything while this weird dude was being a cunt to this lovely girl, and in writing the entire interaction down just now, it upsets me that I didn't. I ought to have said something. I ought to have given the woman a sense of stranger solidarity; not to protect her because she is something lesser or any such social nonsense that may be erroneously read into that, but to corroborate that her behavior was in bounds and this dude was swimming in the end much deeper than the rest of us. I didn't do that. I hung my head into my lap, played with the brakes on my chair, and thought, 'What's a guy in a wheelchair to do.' This interaction, of which I wasn't a part, made me feel things about myself tangentially. My brain scurries to the corner of If I Were Able Avenue and I Would Have Road. I spend a lot of time on that corner. It's kind of like in the beginning of Rocky with the trash can on fire and Stallone's brother singing the doo wop song. Except my corner has less doo wop. More doo, though.
That thinking is unreasonable, and I understand that. But emotion is unreasonable by nature. If emotion were reasonable, then it would be reason. And reason isn't emotion. But what it does do is solidify roles and cosigns the idea that we all have roles, and those roles aren't necessarily interchangeable. Every party needs a healer and a fighter and a rouge and a spellcaster. The healer isn't the sexiest cat to be, but he's necessary. We all want to be the fighter, swinging a short sword and deflecting with his parma while courageously charging the hoard of whatever mythical beast is threatening the party. We want to be the brave man, the first one in. The first one covered in the blood of the enemy. We don't want to be the cat in the back wearing a robe and carrying a stick. A stick. A stick is in no way as cool as a sword. I am no longer the fighter with the sword, and I sure as piss don't want to be a healer with a stick.
In epilogue, the femailman resisted the offer to buy her drink. She told me I didn't have to do that, and instead of conventionally insisting, I said, "There's that dude, and then there's everyone else. It balances out. It's only coffee. There are bigger things to worry about." She smiled and acquiesced. Little did I know her drink had seventeen words in it, and we all know that each word in a coffee drink adds another fifteen dollars. Kidding aside, if this femailman's day off was ruined by a lunatic who may or may not be blind and deaf (may not), then perhaps the coffee doesn't necessarily make her day off a good day, but brings it back to base line. That's the best that the healer in the party can do. Hopefully it's enough to survive the encounter with the level twenty asshole. Stay beautiful, kids.
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