Monday, July 11, 2011
"Gut taken in at a checkpoint. Fuckin' six months without a license. But I gut a good lawya, so..." A redhead with rust freckled arms, says.
"That happened to me last summah, dude." His friend says.
"Where was the checkpoint?" Another guy asks.
"Ovah on Columbus Street in Springfield. Fuckin'...yeah but it's cool, I gut a good lawya."
There is a pause here as the three nod their heads and look around. I can't tell because I'm trying not to stare, but I think this is an awkward moment.
"You livin 'round here now?"
Last year, a fellow coworker at the grocery store refers to his D.U.I. with a carefully crafted nonchalance, calling it a "dooey."
"A what?" I ask.
"D.U.I." He says.
Ahhh...a dooey. Just a fuzzy little dooey for driving drunk. No big deal. Cop was an ass hole probably, right? Fuckin' pig pull you over in your low riding, bass bumping beige Camry while you and three other twenty something tormentors speed around town verbally violating every female you pass because it's funny and because it's "fuuuckin' summah dooood"?
One morning last week, while on his bicycle, Scott is confronted by a man in a white unmarked van. At the intersection on the edge of our small city center where one lane splits into two, Scott gives the signal to go left and steers his bicycle to the right side of the left lane. This infuriates the man in the white unmarked van behind him who slams on his gas pedal and speeds past Scott, nearly hitting the back tire of his bicycle. Blown away by this unwarranted belligerence, Scott raises his middle finger and shows it to the driver. Seconds later, forced to stop at the traffic light, the stranger begins molesting Scott's patience by calling him a "fucking faggot" repeatedly before eventually stringing together enough words to construct a somewhat coherent sentence, "Oh you're such a tough guy with that finger, how about I take it and shove it up your fucking ass, you fuckin' faggot." Of course, it isn't a particularly smart sentence and the mere mention of shoving Scott's finger up Scott's ass is, of course, a form of man-on-man rape and yet he's the one calling Scott the faggot, but all the same, Scott remains calm.
"What was I supposed to do?" My husband asks.
"You're supposed to be on the fuckin' sidewalk, ya fuckin' faggot." This man (who probably hasn't ridden a bicycle since he was a boy for only "faggots" ride bicycles) says.
"We're not supposed to ride on the sidewalk."
"You fuckin' registered, you fuckin' faggot?" The man shouts as his tires screech forward, leaving behind the echo of his rage to surround Scott where he sits simmering on his bicycle seat, waiting, still, for the light to turn green. Shaking off the last bit of loitering tension, he catches the eye of a young lady who stands on the sidewalk waiting for a walk signal.
"Nice." She says, raising her eyebrows.
What is this? This culture of men who live in these cloudy bubbles of douche baggery?
Yesterday afternoon, after going out to lunch, Scott and I spot a friend sitting on the stoop of a storefront. "Hey, come over here and listen to this guy." He says, waving toward a skinny kid about our age playing guitar. "He's amazing. I've never seen anyone play like him." He says and so we sit and tap our toes and listen to this young man play Bob Dylan songs and yodel between ballads. After a few songs, two bronzed guys with tight white tee shirts, flowery font leg tattoos and cell phones clipped to their black leather belts pass before the busker in a dramatic slow motion dance of mockery. Unfazed, the busking boy plays on and a young woman drops a dollar into his guitar case.
When these pompous gentlemen reach their buddies on the other side of the guitar, I watch while they give out elaborately casual handshakes before one of them spews,
"Yo I had a massage and it was wundaful. I had a massage today and it. was. wundaful." It is as if he is speaking for the sake of speaking. As if he has perfected the delivery of contrived chit chatter. I wonder if he ever says anything at all.
We leave soon after, but before we do I toss two dollar bills into the busking boy's case and smile him a thank you.
"Yo, you wanna go drinkin?"
Drinking has become an activity. Like hiking a mountain or going to the movie theater or playing video games. It's a thing to do now. I admit, I do it. I drink to relax and laugh away the worries I have congesting my brain waves, but I don't call it that. I don't tell everyone I'm drinking in order to get drunk in order to justify vomiting cheap beer on some girl who looks slutty enough, drunk enough, to give me a blow job in the dirty bar bathroom (not because I want her to but because it'll be a funny story later and because blow jobs by strange girls in bathrooms are supposed to be something I desire and not something that terrifies me.)
This is why there is nothing like a good man. A man who is secure enough to buy his son dolls, tea sets and dress up clothes. A man who is grown up enough to cross his legs and wear bow ties, cuff links and matching argyle socks. A man who is comfortable enough to embrace the awkwardness of acquaintances, allowing humor and honesty to collide with eye contact and fumbling handshakes. A man who says things like "I can't wait to see you as a mother." And, "When you smile, my heart opens. Some days I spend hours just trying to make you laugh." A man who admits to a real fear of spiders, crabs, lobsters and dead Asian girls with crooked spines, bluish white faces and long stringy hair. A man who is an individual and not a copy of a music video or advertisement or the copy of the copy of either of these things. A man with a scar on his back, not from a knife fight or gang brawl, but from an infected sack of pus he had surgically removed last Spring.
Sure I don't really know these dudes I call douche bags (a phrase stemmed from my own horrid slang), but that's because I have no desire to know them. I wish I could tell them that. That their two-dimensional portrayals of the people they think they should be are extremely dull compared to the unique men they are on the inside.