This is what just happened to me while walking to Wahoo’s to meet Matt for dinner:
I was waiting to cross the street a half-block from my apartment. I let one SUV pass me driving right, and I saw a red car pull up going the other direction. It stopped, and I started crossing. But the red car started too. There was a momentary blind spot until the SUV cleared the intersection and the red car and I were both moving. It didn’t stop. Had I kept walking, it would have hit me. So I slowed and as it passed, I gave it a good, strong, open-handed whap on the back passenger window.
The driver started yelling, and the car stopped as I finished crossing the street. I tall, thin man with foppish hair came out, yelling. “You don’t touch the car!” He was cartoonishly livid.
He came at me fairly quickly, stopping to remove his flip-flops, I guess readying himself for some kind of tussle. He came right into my face. “You don’t touch the car!”
“You don’t run people over in the road,” I replied.
Now, of course, you know this was coming, but I’ll say it anyway: Logic was not going to be of any help here.
The man continued to provoke me. He made threats about “taking me on” between his huffy mantra, “Don’t touch the car!” I could do nothing but laugh. Of course, laughter does not do much to diffuse a situation like this. After working my way past him, I kept walking, and he headed back toward his flip-flops. “You don’t touch the car!”
“Yes, I suppose a car is more important than a human being.”
That was not what brought him back, but something did. You have to forgive me, because it’s all a blur. But he did come after me again. This time, he started doing that retarded thing where one puffs out one’s chest and butts it against one’s opponent. I laughed. He must watch Spike TV.
At this point, his wife (or girlfriend or someone) was out of the car, holding a tiny, yappy dog which, amazingly, was not making a peep. She was perhaps 15 feet away at this point. With the man butting me and telling me he could take me on right there, I just looked at her and asked, “Is he on something?” Then I used what I now realize is a line from one of the plays I’m in right now: “What’s wrong with him?”
But she was squarely in his corner. “You jerk!”
With me simply laughing at his buffoonery and not flinching from his posturing, he turned and walked away. “Just walk away,” I think he was saying to himself, not me.
I have discovered that, in moments like these, I end up saying stupid stuff that I later regret. Sort of. There was the pre-blog incident with the yappy dog neighbor and the well-documented and perhaps now-infamous battle of wits with the California Bitch. In both these cases, I began with a strong but reasonable request, and, once stricken with the first words of abuse from the incredulous, wronged party, I moved on to repeating the obvious. But then, as things were coming to a close and that last insult is hurled, I had to get in the last word, thus truly giving the innocent victim a zinger to tell their friends the next day.
I was okay so far in the car incident, but as the guy “just walked away,” I said, “Yes, walk back to your little wife and little dog. And try not to run over anyone.”
I don’t know if they even heard me. They kept the street blocked for about ten more seconds. I saw Matt waiting at the door of Wahoo’s, completely unaware of what had just happened steps away. I thought for a moment that I should just snap a phone cam picture of the car. Just in case… I don’t know. I wanted to be sure they saw me, too. Just to piss him off some more. But I missed the opportunity. As the car drove by, the woman shouted, “Jerk!” and I came back with what is surely the best capper of all time: “Dummy!”
At least I didn’t yell out, “Bitch!”
I had to tell Matt the whole thing. He saw the final exchange and was confused. I couldn’t order my dinner for a good five minutes because I was too adrenaline-infused, too flabbergasted at the violence and anger of that guy.
What was interesting was that I was not at all afraid of him hitting me. It’s not that I didn’t believe he would do it, because I do believe, had I pushed the envelope just a bit more, he would have. I think I actually wanted him to hit me. I would not have fought back, or so I tell myself now. I would have guarded myself, but not fought back. I wanted him to be so wrong and so jumpy that he would pay for his stupidity and false bravado.
But, of course, that would have caused who knows how many months of drama. So instead, I am safe and get to type this all out. And maybe mine was the false bravado to begin with. I mean, I touched his car!
People are never wrong. Definitely not in L.A. “But officer, I didn’t even see him crossing the street!” “He made the first move by hitting my car!” But you see, the pedestrian, even in car-crazy L.A., has the right of way, especially, most assuredly, and without question when at a crossing, like I was. But the man was not wrong. No way. Even had he punched me, he would have denied he was wrong.
The fire from the incident is gone now, but the lingering question that still befuddles me is this: Where do these people come from? I really don’t know. If you drive within feet of a pedestrian crossing the street and they smack your car, you flinch and realize that, yes, you were wrong just then. I tried to do the right thing when I hit that guy on Franklin. Even though I should have given him my contact info but didn’t, I didn’t claim to be right. I didn’t threaten to beat him up for my hitting him.
Oh, but that kind of responsibility does not exist with these kinds of people. No. The world is theirs and you’re just borrowing it.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish this. The loud sex woman is at it again, and boy, is she getting hers tonight. I shall go watch some Scrubs. It’s funnier.