It’s a rule of city life, even in a cozy, small-town feeling neighborhood like Park Slope: warm weather brings out the crazy. In the winter everyone is bundled, hunched into themselves and their coats, uninterested in being on the street for longer than they have to, and barely making eye contact with each other as they run around in their little human-pods of clutched warmth. In the summer people walk around with their backs straight and their clothing lighter. The one-person pods of hustling individuals are gone; we are now people in a crowd milling this way and that, making eye contact, bumping into each other. This can be good: I love that now I can wave friends and neighbors, pet dogs, make funny faces with little kids, compare apples with strangers at the farmers market – all that good warm weather stuff. But it also brings out the worst in humanity, especially when it’s hot.
I brushed between two people the other day on my way home and mumbled an “excuse me” to the woman as she stepped to the side. The man started yelling, “Excuse me! Excuse me!” at my back, and I turned and smiled, bogged down with groceries. “Yes?”
“Excuse me!” he said again.
“Yes!” I said.
“We’re talking here! You walked between us. My mother taught me that when you walk between two people you say ‘excuse me’.”
For the life of me I can’t imagine stopping someone on the street to yell at them for not saying excuse me. I would never care that much.
I opened my mouth to apologize, but he just raged on over me.
My reaction, classic Amber, was to glaze over and walk away while he continued screaming at my back. I didn’t need to stand there and wait for him to be done berating me to apologize. I think, too, talking further at that point would have made him angrier, and I take the words of the rapper Lil’ John (as featured by Youngbloodz) seriously: “Don’t start no shit, it won’t be no shit.”
I learned that in the ‘hood.
So I’d totally have forgotten about that except yesterday I’m sitting at my desk and see this punk-looking kid, about 22, slip behind my car which is parked on the street, right in front of our apartment. My desk is positioned so that I sit by the window next to the sidewalk when I’m at my desk – I like to see the people and dogs go by – and I like to keep my car parked right outside the apartment if I can nab the spot so I keep an eye on it.
This kid: he’s shifty-eyed, looking around nervously, and I’m thinking, “I’m about to watch this dude smash my window and grab something.” I was totally unprepared to see him pull out his penis and begin peeing on my tire. And, like, I’m sorry, gross, but I’m married, right? Seeing a penis doesn’t give me an initial shock like it would normally – if you’re in a long-term relationship with a dude you might know what I’m talking about… I’ve had completely boring conversations with Rob about oil changes or vet appointments while he’s just out of the shower with nary a sexy thought flitting through my mind – so I’m looking at this kid and his bishop in hand and a tiny voice is nagging me in the back of my brain that something isn’t right but it’s not like “OH MY GOSH!” for a few seconds while it all gels together, and then, all of the sudden, it so fucking is.
“YOU ARE PEEING ON MY CAR!” I shrieked out the window.
“I’m sorry miss, I really am!” he answered, and now? Now I am having a conversation with a stranger who has his penis fully visible to me.
“You are PEEING! ON MY CAR!” I hollered again, and a passerby stops on the sidewalk between us, looks left to me, looks right to him, and doubles over laughing.
“Stop!” I yelled.
“I can’t!” He said, and to his credit, he sounded really embarrassed. “I couldn’t find a bathroom! I really had to go!”
For the record, there are stores on the the avenue just up the block, a lot of them food places, that would have let him pee. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” he’s bleating now, and I think he might have been a little… oh shit. What’s the PC word? Not all there? Not entirely mentally competent?
I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a weird summer.