Sunday, January 11, 2009

Keep Your Shirt On

Hazel has ballet on Saturday mornings. So our Saturday routine usually goes something like this. Drop Hazel at ballet and then tool around the business district boosting the local economy and killing an hour and fifteen minutes. We usually stop at the House of Bagels, get coffee, stop by the library, browse the thrift store, book store, or toy store. We pick Hazel up and have been known to stop at tuttimelon for a little froyo for the kiddo. And that is exactly what we did yesterday.

I held two little hands as we made our way back to our car. Walking down the block, I noticed a man kind of tucked behind a shrub. He was writing. Filling in some blanks on a white piece of 8 1/2 x 11 paper. Maybe because I'm a mom. Maybe because I'm naturally curious. Maybe because there was a full moon, I really have no idea WHY I noticed the man, but I'll admit, perhaps my eyes lingered a tad longer than necessary.

And that was all it took.

He instantly started yelling.

"What are you looking at? I see how you're looking at me. You can't look at me like that."

We'd gone maybe three steps, when my husband turned around to inquire if the guy had a problem.

"She's racist. I don't have to take that. This is 2009."

I was dumbfounded. I wanted to reply that I was absolutely not racist. But my logic told me that like the person stumbling around on the sidewalk at 2 am surrounded by friends offering rides slurring "I'm not drunk", simply proclaiming my innocence wasn't going to be the salve that sobered this particular guy up.

So while the guy and my husband agreed to disagree. I ushered the kids across the street to safety and spied a police cruiser parking about 100 yards away.

When I turned back to look at my husband, he was half way across the street. It was over. Or was it? Because, perhaps, by just moving my head in the general direction of the man was yet again so offensive that he had to start yelling. Again. And then he did something so strange. He took his shirt off.

It was a button-up dress shirt.

And he whipped it off in an instant. Shirt on. And Shazam! Shirt off.

That was all it took for me to signal the police.

I don't like fights. I don't like violence. Obviously, he didn't want to talk it out. He wanted to take his shirt off and scream obscenities and clench his fists and who knows what else.

The whole scene had me really shaken. I was hesitant to make eye contact with any one for the rest of the day.

I feel somewhat better today. My husband thinks it was funny. His new favorite response to everything now is: "Keep your shirt on I'll walk the dog. Keep your shirt on, I'll take out the trash."

But here is the kicker. Guess what the the paper was that the man was filling out? It was an application for employment to our local movie theatre.

I'm sure this had something to do with why my eyes lingered. I love movies. And I, myself, am seeking employment. We have so much in common. Too bad we didn't have the opportunity to get know each other better. But I couldn't get past how the man was trying to get a job at a place where he was going to have to be surrounded by people like me. A bunch of middle-aged moms buying diet Coke® and popcorn, *shudder* making eye contact and rushing off to watch Brad Pitt age in reverse on the big screen.


Miss Grace said...

Keep your shirt on, you'll get a job.

Reinvent Dad said...

Sad the guy was so insecure in his own shirt that he couldn't talk to you like a human being....sadly I've gotten to the point that I avoid eye contact with almost everyone except that club that I fit in with the most....The Parent Club.

Jen said...

God, I hate physical confrontations. I am such a Virgo.