overhaul / undertow

Sunday, May 12, 2002

Sometimes you interact with complete strangers and it has the feel of a drive-by-shooting with mistaken identities--it wasn't your fault, but for whatever reason someone you don't know at all has suddenly shot you in the gut and streaked off, leaving you wanting to crumple up on the sidewalk.

Case in point:

stopped at the market tonight to pick up some of the amasu shoga I can't live for a day without--sweet pickled ginger, it's like heroin--and found myself also perusing the "health food aisle" for some natural face soap or some shit like that. About six feet to my left was a figure i saw only peripherally, and I was aware of his proximity but that was about it. It's the fucking supermarket, for chrissakes, there are people everywhere. I wasn't gonna give him a once-over or anything.

But he's mumbling under his breath, and as always--because I'm a woman, because it's Hollywood, because it's 11:30 p.m., for ten million reasonable reasons I now peek at him sidelong out of the corner of my eye, to make sure he's not some scary schizophrenic about to lose it right next to me.

He seems normal enough--five feet ten or so, late thirties, a bit paunchy and pallid, with dark brown hair combed over in a very oldschool-barbershop-patron style.

I figure there's no real theat and turn back to the Kiss My Face and Dr. Bronner's products...but then I hear him mumble again, "I wasn't making a pass, I was just clearing my throat," or somesuch thing, but it's at such a low volume that I can barely hear--it's almost like he said it to himself. I turn to him and say, "Pardon me?"

He turns to me and he looks angry for reasons I can't fathom. "Some men will make a pass by clearing their throat or something but I was just thinking," and I said, very creeped out now, "Ummmmmm, that's okay, I didn't think you were making a pass."

His voice is getting louder. "What did you say?"

I'm put on the defensive now. He's fucking scary. "I said I didn't think you were making a pass, you were just talking to yourself, and it was a bit disconcerting," or something along those lines but perhaps less articulate.

He begins to yell. It's 11:30 p.m. at Ralphs on Hollywood Blvd. and some fucking freak has decided I'm the cause of all his woes and the reason all is wrong in his world. "I'm just looking for some fucking medicine! In case you didn't notice, I have a cough! But you had to blah blah blah..." and he kinda stopped making sense, or I lost track of whatever it was he was saying.

I'm backing away, but I don't want to not stand my ground either--I won't be intimidated by some paranoid asshole. "Well, look, I'm sorry you're such an angry person. I hope you feel better!!!" I yell right back, and I walk away, and as I go he shouts incoherently at me and finishes it all of with a flourish of a "Piss off, bitch!!!"

I mumble under my breath, stage-whisper, "No problem," and as I hurry away I hear him yell "Leave me alone!!!"

It's so bizarre. I'm quite sure that as much as I feel that he launched into me unprovoked, that for whatever paranoid reasoning he operates within, he feels the same way too.

And we both came away feeling miserable.

I'm a good person. I make a point to always buy lemonade from kids whenever I see them selling it. Hell, I've bought lemons from kids. (A dollar for four. The lemons were kinda unripe, but such sweet kids.) I wave "thanks" when people let me merge in front of them. I drive random girls who I do not know home at night when I see them staggering down the street alone at two a.m. (One was drunk and had been ditched by her brother, one had fallen at a club, hurt her ankle, and was limping back home up the hill I live on.) I buy beer for happily-homeless-but-too-broke-for-beer punk rock kids from Chicago.

I am not a bitch.

So why do I feel like one? I feel so awful.


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