last weekend i had sunday brunch at a diner with the wife kids and in-laws. i had not been out to eat with them in a very long time and it became a bad joke that they only went out to eat when i wasn't there. but this was wifey's suggestion and so we went to a diner. and at one point whilst eating our meals we became aware of the hispanic family at the table next to us. mostly because their little boy was taking pictures of us on his fathers iphone.
i saw him aim that deadly weapon right at me and all i could do was stare blankly as he fired away. because i honestly had no idea how to handle the situation. its not my kid. so naturally i deffered.
"that kid is taking pictures of us" i said to no one in particular.
no reply. everyone at both tables went about their brunch. the kid continued taking pictures when wifey finally said "excuse me. please dont take pictures of my family, its rude." then the kids father made him give back the phone. he gave us a weak explanation "he's five...." then mumbled something about deleting the pictures or whatever. i mumbled something about giving him a truck to play with instead. even if the kid's father could understand me he probably couldn't hear me.
i didn't exactly speak up.
and then a few days ago i was taking the bus home from work. the bus was unusually crowded that day which always gives me anxiety. i could have sat next to someone but i know how much i hate that and so i continued to the back of the bus where there was room for (at least) three people on a bench seat. i had never sat all the way at the back and so i sat right in the middle a good distance away from one sleeping gentleman on my left and one with headphones on to my right.
it seemed like every fucking time the bus stopped someone got on and no one got off. and even though the bus was obviously crowded every single person kept mindlessly marching all the way to the back as opposed to seizing the first open seat they could find. there were no more seats at the back of the bus. and so one by one they'd all turn around and find a seat closer and closer to the front of the bus where there were plenty of single seats available.
this ripped ass asian kid wearing a wifebeater approached and in my head i was like "look at this asshole" and he had his girl behind him, and he stopped right in front of me and i looked at him like "what?" but i didn't actually say "what?"
what i said instead was nothing. and neither did he. he just sort of nodded at me, and specifically the seat i was sitting in. andso because i was too emotionally drained from work and because my first instinct in an uncomfortable situation is to flee the fuck out of it as quickly and easily as possible... i let him have the damn seat.
well, actually i caught myself capitulating so i stood in front of said seat and when neither of them sat down i pushed ahead and muttered "if you're going to sit, then sit." finally the girl cleared a path, gesticulating that i was free to vacate, and then i found a seat near the front of the bus. two stops later i got off.
and after the bus passed I thought to myself,
what the hell is wrong with you? you let that punk ass take your seat without so much as an "excuse me?" you realize that he is probably laughing it up with his girl right now, bragging about how "i got that fat old white guy to give up his seat - and i didn't even have to say a word!" why cause he's all jacked and shit? or has life so thorougly kicked your ass that you cant even stand up for yourself anymore?
and i wasn't gonna blog about any of this i was gonna blog about something that makes me happy... but then last night i was at the in-laws after a long hot day outside and wifey was talking to her mom about sacraments and various religious class options for the kidlets, and then she was trying to explain to her mom when and why i had left public school for catholic school. because i was bullied.
and her mom was like "everyone gets bullied" and she went on to explain that all of her kids including my wife were bullied (failing to mention that she was the source of said bullying) and basically dismissing it as the most normal thing in the entire world.
did i mention she works at a school?
i wasn't going to try and explain how many different kids had bullied me over the years and how deep those emotional scars have cut me and how i'm still feeling them to this day. if i had been less tired (and more assertive) i may have contrasted my mother's empathy with her absence of same, or made some inaccurate remark about how mothers are incapable of training their children to fight back against a bully (which probably would have flown over her head anyway) or i would have just been a sarcastic snot and wondered aloud why she would argue against me going to catholic school?
and i felt myself trying to pass them and getting frustrated because the blond woman wasnt passing the other woman she was following closely and she wasnt letting me pass either. i would try to get around them and i couldnt and so finally i decided to bump the blond woman and i kept pushing my shoulder into hers but she kept pushing back and finally i just bullied my way through her until both women shouted "hey" and "excuse me" at me and then when i was finally triumphantly ahead of them i looked back.
the braided dark haired woman was in a wheel chair and the blond woman was assisting. and they shouted at me and i apologized profusely and tried to explain that i had had the worst day and i tried to explain about the asian kid as if it had happend yesterday and they didnt really want to hear it at first because my petty little insecurities are no match for a woman in a wheelchair getting shoved by some jackass in a misguided attempt to be a man.
i'm thankful that my children won't need to learn how to become men, but i'm not sure they'll learn much of anything from me. because i have quite often contemplated my utter uselessness and how i am ill-equipped for this world. hell, i was ill-equipped for the world i grew up in before social media and cyberbullying and trolling and hackers and message boards and hyperpartisan tabloid news and mass shootings and terrorism (which is sorta the same thing) and drones and the nsa and smart phones. and every single moment of our lives, big or small, can be filmed, photographed, published, taken out of context, and ridiculed in seconds and without our knowledge or consent.
and the thought of having to prepare my girls for this life and keep them safe in an increasingly unsafe world, with the cost of simple necessities like food and education and health care skyrocketing, automation and outsourcing and corporate greed destroying our economy, and the environment around us, natural and digital, becoming more toxic every day... makes me want to dig my own grave.
which is why i can only deal with the day in front of me. and i'm already freaking out about getting back on the bus.