manners

1959_Corvette_Stingray_Concept

Interesting afternoon. Drove to a local-ish beach to take a walk by the water, two 20ish white boys in a cherry (color and condition) sportscar shortstopped me into the only available parking space. I yelled that I’d been waiting and it was my space – like they cared. So I pulled in behind them, blocking them in. They sat in their car, laughing. I got out of mine and knocked on their window – they “made fun” of me (you might know how much I hate that phrase). I turned my car off and left it there, put on my hat, locked my car, and they treated me to their privilege and contempt. It turns out that the tall one is a junior! In college! Studying law! And that if I left my car there, they’d back into it! Great, said I, with my 8-year-old cheapest-car-in-the-range. And then he said I was illegally parked so I’d be liable for $2000 (you can’t make this stuff up) in fines and tickets, plus the damage to his car and mine after he backed into me. If, that is, a cop came by, but he couldn’t care less.

I replied, with appropriate derision and incantation hands, “You are a Junior!” and after a moment, “And I could smash into your car.” They went on about how they were recording me with their phone and that I’d threatened them and they had it on video! Nothing, of course, about their threats, but that’s how people do it, and not just testosterone-laden Caucasians. Certainly that’s how it has been done to me three times over the past seven years, people provoke and then threaten me, and when I respond, they tell everyone they can think of what a terrible, crazy, arrogant person I am. Funny, they never mention their own actions, their prior behavior… But I digress.

The boys made some noises and I said, “You don’t know, do you? You don’t know that I’m not just crazy enough to do it.” More noises, they were videoing me, they had my license plate number, and I waved my hands to gather the forces of the Universe – yes indeed I was cursing them – and I uttered, “This. Is. Your. Life.” Hand gesture, wavy gesture. I hasten to add that none of my gestures was offensive in any way this culture understands offense, no birds flipped, no two-fingers up, no hand-chop-to-the-elbow. Even on video.

They had no idea what to do with that.

I got back into my car and went in search of another space, the opposite direction from them. They stood there and watched, tho I had no idea why. When I pulled into the space that had magically opened up a few slots over, exited my car, locked it, put on my hat, they walked on. I got my phone out and took photographs of their car from 3 angles, and they came back. The little guy reminded me that they had a recording of me saying I could rearend their car and I pointed out that I’d just taken photos with time-and-date stamps showing that their car was fine. And that I would photograph them! Junior said he didn’t give me permission to take his photograph. I mentioned that in America he didn’t have that right, and took a bunch of shots. And walked away.

They conferred, and also walked away. I realized that I, an invisible middle-aged woman, had managed to frighten them. I’m guessing the real fear was of Junior’s father, who’d rip him a new one if the cherry car came home with a single scratch, but They. Were. Scared. Of me. That’s why they’d stood there when I pulled away. Of me!

How scared?

90 minutes later, when I returned to my car (and checked that all tires were in good working order, no new scratches, etc.), a cop car cruised by. No biggie. But when I pulled out of the lot, the cop car tailed me for 3 miles. I’m guessing the boys spent very little time on that beach, worried that I might do something to the cherry red car – either they called the cops or there was one around – did they show the video? Guessing so. Tell him how they’d provoked me? Guessing not. But I’d clearly rattled the (middle-aged white) cop as well, he drove way too close, far closer than is legal… Yes, I scared the widdw diddums.

And realized that this is the way women can take back our power. Power accrues only when one plays another’s games by their rules, so let’s look just crazy enough that boys of all ages know fear, let’s not play by their rules any more. Many congrats to the two female Army Rangers , that was not a remotely easy task, but we can effect change far more simply.

All we must do is Change. The. Rules.

woman-octopus

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