Despite my snark and sarcasm and at-times judge-iness (is that a word? No? It is now), I really do believe in the general goodness of people. I believe, against all logic, that people have good spirits and souls and hearts and have a deep, basic need to connect to others in a meaningful way.
And then I get confronted by drunk, college kids.
I got home last night around 12:15, and there was no parking in my building’s lot. You know, the off-street parking I pay for, monthly. I drove down my one-way street, looking for alternative spaces, of which there were none, due to all the excess snow mucking things up. So, I circled back into my lot, and created a sort of non-space, that was obstructing an already snow-blocked sidewalk. I got out, and saw 6 guys and 1 girl walking my way, clearly fueled by an evening of Monroe Avenue boozin’. The exchange went like this:
Girl: Excuse me, but you’re blocking the sidewalk.
Me: Excuse ME, but I live here, there’s no parking and I am 5 months pregnant.
Girl: Ooooh, sorry…just trying to look out for your slut, knocked-up ass.
Entire group erupts into laughter, and are now within feet of me.
Boy, getting nearly right into my face, yells “SLUT!” at me.
The sudden gesture, and his entrance into my space caused me to lose balance on the uneven snow, and I fell back into a fairly large snowpile. I didn’t get hurt, but given the shock of all I immediately started to cry, and they all just continued laughing and went on their way, still yelling things over their shoulders. Now, I share this with you not for you to feel any pity, but because I fundamentally can’t wrap my head around what would allow them to feel as though they could do or say any of that. Nothing in my heart would ever, EVER permit me to feel as though I could treat someone that way, alcohol or not.
I take issue with the girl, for violating all that I find sacred between women, with her attempt to demean and humiliate me. A stranger she doesn’t even know. To paraphrase Tina Fey in Mean Girls, a woman calling another woman a slut or a whore just makes it OK for men to think they can call you that. A silly example, perhaps, but it’s fundamentally true. And for that boy to feel entitled to enter my personal space because I’m a woman, to invade me that way, and call me something that tries to subdue me, intimidate me, made me wish for things to occur to him that I am not proud of, in the clear light of day. And for the rest of them, complicit in their laughter, their unwillingness to do the right thing, and call their friends out, is also highly foul to me.
The thing is, it’s hard not to understand how people develop such hardened hearts when it comes to the world-at-large, when there are things like this happening everyday, and on much more severe levels. I laid awake last night, still fueled by adrenaline, and felt alternately grateful and horrified by the fact that I’m naive enough to believe that people wouldn’t do such things. I’m so sheltered from experiences like that, and I wonder now if that’s a good or a bad thing. I want to keep an open heart, I don’t want to grow fearful or resentful of others, but I also don’t want to hold a blind eye to the fact that people can be kind of shitty (and that’s a charitable description). And how I help this child we’re having navigate a sometimes nasty world with the strength and fortitude to defend him/herself, and be a force for good, in all situations?
I witnessed a very small, yet still hurtful, example of unprovoked hate last night-which is the very worst variety. And I believe those are the seeds that produce the large-scale atrocities that we see around us-because no one does anything to stop it. It’s virulent if left unchecked-even if it seems harmless enough. So do me a favor, my friends…and join me in doing the right thing, and committing to be more proactive about being that force for good the world so badly needs, even when it’s hard. Because whenever something happens to one of us, it happens to all of us.