Friday, August 13, 2004


Here are some things I sort of understand. To be totally clear: I do know these things are evil. I don't in any way condone them. Actually I'm horrified by them. But I intellectually understand how they could happen, like what leads to them and what parts of our imperfect human nature make them possible:

  • War
  • Terrorism
  • Torture
  • Child abuse
  • Yelling at your kids because you had a bad day
  • Racism
  • Homophobia
  • Being afraid of people because they're different in any kind of way
  • Bullying
  • Subjugation of women
  • Rich people setting up laws to make themselves richer
I could go on but you get the idea.

So why do I have so much trouble getting my head around the two women who tripped me and yelled at me yesterday at the They Might Be Giants zoo concert?

It's true I came up from my seat way in the back because I wanted to see John & John up close for a while instead of as blurry little figures. And I'm sure those women had been in line for hours to get their excellent seats. And it was probably frustrating that an impromptu mosh pit had sprung up right in front of them. But I wasn't even in their way; I was actually being careful to stay over to the side and not block the view of anyone who was sitting down. I just moved over a little when the [very polite] security guard asked me to move to the left of the cones. And then I tripped over one of their feet. And I turned to apologize but before I could even say anything she andher friend started yelling at me-- really yelling! I was stunned. I said something stupid back and then grabbed Sarah and said "Come on, those people are TOO CRABBY, we don't need to be near them." And then TMBG started playing my favorite song, the one I taught Sarah until she can sing it by heart too, the one I was hoping they'd play, and I couldn't enjoy it because I was too upset.

So, I know that this event is a relatively minor one in the great scheme of things [see above list]. But my point isn't that I'm a big whiner, though that might be true. Here's the thing: it's like there's this big disconnect in my head. I can understand, abstractly, people's extreme cruelty to each other, but when someone isn't nice to me--me!-- it boggles my mind. Not when I'm mean or crabby to someone or they're mean or crabby back, that makes sense. Not even when RW or Sarah or my parents are snappish when I haven't done anything [or much] to them; people take things out on the ones they love, and I do the same thing even though I try not to. But just random, kicking-the-puppy nastiness.

I felt the way Sarah looked when she was a baby and we went over to a house with a 2-year-old and he just walked over to her and hit her out of nowhere: where did that come from? And why?

Maybe this is evidence of total self-centeredness, that I don't think the rules of the world apply to me. And maybe I do the same thing to other complete strangers without even knowing it. I'm certainly capable of being brusque and/or insensitive at times. [But that's different. Or is it? No, I mean these women were really yelling and getting abusive. And they didn't seem drunk or anything. Just nasty.]

Someone who'd seen it came up to me later and told me she saw that woman kicking people on purpose after I left. For some reason that made me feel a little better [though I guess in retrospect I should've felt bad for the people she kicked]: like I wasn't just a jerk and a dork, she was really crazy! And someone else noticed! I edged back up front and told Security on her. Ah, appealing to authority, the goody-goody's way out.

Really, of course, I would've liked to have had some kind of scathing retort at hand. But I was too stunned. And even now I can't think of much that would've made much dent in their insane righteousness. The closest I can come up with is a suggestion that they go home and watch the Gigantic DVD so they can get a really good view of the band, because heaven forbid they should actually want to share the experience with other people who love this music too.

Somehow I don't think that would've gone over with the bang I wanted.

Then I started thinking: What would someone really centered, like, oh, say, Gandhi, have done? Probably Gandhi wouldn't have edged up front in the first place. But if he had, and someone had tripped and yelled at him-- what would he have done? Or the Dalai Lama? Probably he wouldn't have needed to say anything; he's probably too enlightened to care. Or how about Dorothy Parker? She always had something to say. I'm sure she could've come up with some bon mot that would've knocked the stuffing out of them, while making it clear that she was in the right and superior in every way.

Or maybe, when someone's randomly yucky like that, there's nothing to do but let go of it, and obsessing about it is proof of my unevolved nature. But how does a person get evolved?

Maybe it's just as well I don't get out much.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, this happened to me, too. Or not exactly, as I was not at a They Might Be Giants concert, but rather riding on the W&OD trail in Arlington (Cricket, if you see this, I believe we've ridden there together). I was following three other bikers; they each passed a woman walking a doberman, and as soon as they passed, she let the dog's leash out longer, so that it partially blocked the bike path. As I came closer, I said behind her "on your right," which is the polite thing to say in Arlington when you pass on your bike. As I arrived right behind her, the dog pulled farther across the path, and I said "watch out, little doggie!" to the dog (ok, definitely not written by Jill Soloway, and an absurd thing to say to a full-grown doberman, but I'm going for veracity here), she pulled the dog to her, and then as I went past she said loudly and rudely "a courtesy 'on your right' would have been nice!" But I HAD SAID IT. She just didn't hear because she was wearing a walkman.

I would like to believe she would be very sorry if she knew that she was in the wrong. But I don't really believe it.

How can people be so heartless? How can people be so cruel?


5:00 PM  

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