Something happened to me last night that has me seriously on edge. Ordinarily, I’m this, like, beacon of relaxation. If this were a normal day I’d implore you to try to ruffle my feathers. And you’d be, like, visibly peeved when I remained curiously unperturbed. I’m imperturbable, on most days.
Today is different, and it’s all because of last night.
Allow me to set the scene.
Here I was, meandering home from hot yoga with my friend. She has a right to privacy like anyone whose last name doesn’t end in “-ashian,” so for anonymity purposes we’ll call her “Schmerica.” Schmerica and I had just finished a particularly grueling class in which we encountered nearly every character I’d previously detailed in another blog post, including but not limited to Openly Passing Gas woman, who was unfortunately situated directly in front of us. We weren’t sure if the technique was particularly advanced that day or if the room was merely heated more than usual due to the excess of participants, but we both agreed we were depleted of energy by the end.
The walk home is a lengthy one, though, and since we basically plunged into Winter come mid-September (oh, Ireland, I love thee), it’s dark by the time we leave class. The conversation turned to diving, since I’m about to partake for the first time on my honeymoon in a few weeks. Schmerica was asking if I’d been certified previously, and as I was characteristically answering what is effectively a one word response with an excess of context and flowery language, a wild-haired man barreled up and attempted to engage us in his barely audible ramblings.
Now, Schmerica and I have both lived in New York previously, so we’re not exactly virginal when it comes to animated aggression or nonsensical blabber on the streets. We’ve both had the unfortunate physical interaction (someone spat in her face once, I’d been body-checked on two separate occasions) but we chalked our experiences up to it just being crazy, grungy, gritty NYC.
This is Ireland, though. It’s a land full of mild-mannered, hilarious Conan O’Brien types. They have like two violent crimes a year. I’m not exaggerating, see for yourself. A man took a late night dip in the river last night, and it made the front page of the Crime section. There’s literally nothing else more threatening happening here.
Needless to say, we weren’t exactly on guard to respond to street aggression. As we walked along the canal, both of us depleted of energy and simultaneously enthralled in conversation as only an overly contextualized response to a lack of scuba certification could provide, we chose to ignore the man and hoped he’d lose interest. It appeared to work, at first, as he mumbled something like “sorry” and walked away.
Not 15 seconds later, however, the man came barreling back. “Do you mind?” He asked Schmerica. “Do you F#%*@ing mind?!?!”
Schmerica, not appearing to mind, looked at him blankly. “What?” She attempted, while I stood frozen at her side. The man, tired of waiting for a simple “yes” or “no” response, pelted her with an empty soda can, then a stick, and ran off, perhaps accepting that she didn’t, in fact, mind.
Now, here’s the part that has me questioning everything. I’ve spent all day thinking about it, and I still don’t understand.
Why not me? The wild haired man didn’t even look at me, let alone interrogate me or toss objects at me all willy-nilly. What’s wrong with me?
If he had targeted me, then I likely would have written it off as I normally do, by giving myself an internal ego boost to counteract the aggression. “I probably look like a girl who rejected him in high school,” I’d tell myself, similar to the way I’d handled the two body-checking incidents of 2006 and 2010, respectively. “I probably look like the girl who teased them in high school,” I’d told myself, creating an alternate reality in which I was a regular Regina George.
But he didn’t target me, that’s the thing. He looked right past me, into Schmerica’s face, and behaved as if I was the sniveling girl who, like, lusted after him in Orchestra class or something. I mean, have I lost it entirely? Must I start talking back to any wild haired stranger in the hopes he or she will restore my faith in my ability to incite aggression within?
Advice welcome, y’all.