On Mondays during the summer I am a monster. Literally, I transform into a cranky, tired gremlin whose tolerance for life’s bullshit is non-existent. Sometimes I find myself driving my teeth so far into my tongue that the rusty taste of blood swirls around as a reminder to refrain from answering everyday trite questions with nasty, cynical replies. These are the negative effects of working a second job and not getting my proper rest.
It was on such a Monday just after depositing my tip money that I was flagged down by a 5’2 butterball of a woman.
“Excuse me, Excuse me,” she pleaded as I walked towards my office.
Mustering up my last drop of compassion, I turned to her.
“Ma’am, you must help me. I have four kids and no wallet today, no credit card. They are very hungry and…”
As she continued with her tale of woe I kept looking at her round carcass, listening more to the extra flaps of skin slab against each other, than to what she was saying. I started to think- Sister you sure as hell aren’t missing any meals and I work 7 days a week…- until I remembered the words of my writing mentor: nobody is above you and nobody is below you.
I reached into my wallet and watched as her pudgy hands wrapped around my hard earned five dollar bill. She expressed her gratitude by walking away and tossing a thank you over her shoulder. I almost drew a loogie and spat it back at her. Instead, I returned to my cube feeling irate at the whole bloody situation.
* * *
That night after work I got Thai take out for dinner. Instead of going home, I dared myself to be social and eat outside in Rittenhouse. It was a dare because I was wearing a dress and didn’t have a blanket, which meant I would have to eat on a park bench. I don’t particularly like busy parks where the benches are staggered across from each other because I always feel like I’m being watched.
For this reason, I strategically picked out the last bench in the row in a section that had five other available benches. As I unpacked my food I heard the unabashed laughter of two little kids playing hide-and-go-seek; the type of laughter that escalates onto itself so that when one child stops to catch their breath, the other one begins giggling again. I picked at my food feeding off the children’s joy, realizing they were the reason I came.
And just then a man decided to sit on the bench directly in front of me. I kept my eyes on my food, the birds and the children as I noticed him in my peripheral reaching for a cigarette. Jesus H. Christ, I thought to myself, WHY must you pick that bench to sit on? And must you pollute my airl!! I munched away at my food reminding myself that asking ‘why’ of others is often a fruitless task. When I reached my chopsticks back into the bowl I felt a weird burning sensation like direct sunbeams on me. I looked at the bench and found the man staring at me with an unapologetic grin. He sat there leaned back with his legs spread open; one hand held a cigarette and the other was making circular movements on his crotch.
The only reaction I had was this thought: Welp, there is your answer. Man picks bench directly across from you so he can masturbate while you eat your food. Wonderful.
A Warrior Princess