I have always wanted to be Southern. That’s because in all the movies I see, Southern women are adept, I mean truly masterful, at the backhanded insult. You know the one where you don’t realize that someone has insulted you until it’s too late to respond? That insult. I find that I always miss the moment. I get so tongue tied when I am confronted that I clam up and forget all the words that I have been dying to say. This happens especially when I’m confronted by a man.
I spent years going from one abusive relationship to another. I learned quickly that standing up for myself was not a desirable trait. Of course, now, I realize that it’s ridiculous. But I find that when a man confronts me, especially in anger, I have a hard time coming up with any words, much less ones in my defense. That’s years of conditioning, people; Pavlov at his best.
It especially kicks in when I’m around men that give off that abusive vibe. If you’ve even been in an abusive relationship, you’ll know what I mean. I’m sure that someone somewhere has cataloged that behavior and could tell me exactly what it is. All I know is that it makes me nervous and my first instinct is to run in the opposite direction.
So here’s what brought all this on.
This guy picks his son up from my house sometimes. His son is in elementary school and since there are always kids at my house, he’s there too. When this dad arrives, he never gets down from his car. He never comes to the door to pick up his child. He simply sits in his huge SUV and honks his horn. If his kid doesn’t come out right away, he keeps honking until he does. I confess, wholeheartedly, that I remember telling the child that he should hurry because his dad was impatient.
On Friday morning, probably about a year after I said this, the big lunkhead approaches me at the local post office to tell me he didn’t appreciate me making negative comments to his son. I looked at him incredulously. If you know me, you know I wouldn’t do that. Then he said that he would appreciate it if this conversation didn’t get back to his ex. At that point, I almost laughed since I don’t owe him anything and the ex is one of my best friends. (Seriously! Who was he kidding? Of course it’s going to get back to his ex.) So he goes on for about five minutes and I told him a couple of times that I couldn’t imagine what he was talking about. I said that I would never say anything negative to a child about their parent. (Believe me when I say that that is one mess I don’t want to be in.) So I stood there while he loomed over me, being the bully that he is, while I tried to figure out what I could have said. I was getting angrier and angrier at being unjustly accused. He kept using the example of “impatient” and I kept wracking my brain trying to figure out what the hell I could have possibly said. And then it dawned on me. “Impatient” WAS the negative thing.
Okay people, impatient is a trait. It may not be a desirable or flattering one, but it is what it is. I run late all the time, (give me a break, it’s in my genes, I’m fighting a losing battle between the camel and the spic bloodlines,) but I wouldn’t jump down someone’s throat if they called me that.
I was so angry by the time I got home. How dare he!?! And then, the oddest thing happened. My phone rang and it was my friend, (the ex,) and he had called her and told her all about the confrontation in the post office. Suddenly, in a matter of seconds, all of my anger was gone. I could let the incident go and move on.
At least, that‘s what I thought.