It was a cold night of December, a thousand years ago. Traffic was lighter than air, heavy coats and thick scarves were all the rage. The snow was all over the sidewalks, painting them white. There were few pedestrians, and they were walking as fast as humanly possible to spend a minimum amount of time outside, where the cold was king, and the night was queen.
I was driving. The car was full of people, there was 6 of us, compacted like sardines. I was comfortable, after all I was the commander of that vehicle. Without me, they wouldn’t be out anyway. It’s just my vanity speaking, it’s harmless I promise. My companions were excited, semi-drunk, noisy, and they were bumping their heads to the music, which was louder than thunder since the windows were closed. I was the “voluntary” designated driver, if that oxymoron makes any sense, so long I am not the moron in this story! Well, I have been the designated driver for the past 2 and a half decades so, I am not complaining, I am merely stating an undeniable fact. It pays to have me as a friend, especially when it comes to long drunken nights. Ok, enough with the vanity.
We drove around for a while. It became clear that we had no clue where we were going. No decision had been made before leaving the house so, chaos ensued in the car. I was tired of driving aimlessly and I was getting more annoyed by the minute. Every conversation between the noisy passengers ended with a disagreement. So, I turned off the music which created a sudden and heavy silence. I asked them politely but firmly where they wanted to go. We had to go somewhere. I was tired and I had to wake up early to do some stuff. So, driving all night was out of the question.
They started talking amongst them, trying desperately to find a consensus. The light on the street turned red and I stopped. I was looking ahead, breathing slowly because the annoyance was turning into anger, slowly but surely. The brilliance of the red light captivated me. I got lost in it and I found peace in red, which is quite an aggressive color. Go figure!
Yet, I felt a look piercing my right temple. I turned in my co-passenger’s direction for confirmation. She was staring at me. I looked back at her and I waited. I slowly nodded as to say “Yeah, what’s up?”. Obviously, she had something to say. She spoke. I heard her. To this day, I am not quite sure what she said. My memory which rarely fails me, has somewhat erased her sentence. Did my brain erase the words she uttered as a defense mechanism towards a traumatic event? Perhaps it was. She spoke. She said something. I heard her. The words that came out of her mouth made me lose the will to live for a tenth of a second. I blinked and my mouth dropped, almost touching my thigh. I turned around and looked ahead. The light had turned green, but I couldn’t move. The unexpected had happened and I didn’t know what to do. The cars behind me honked and it woke me. I moved the car and parked it on the side. I kept looking ahead because I literally was lost.
So, here is the thing; I am a guy, ok? I am quite used, since I was a kid, to be disrespected by other dudes. Frankly, being disrespected, is one of the perks of having XY chromosomes, it comes with the territory. Dare I say that it is inevitable. Men are a bit more aggressive, more bullish, and more depending on their physical strength to emphasize their disrespect and/or threats. I have been disrespected, threatened, attacked and verbally abused by other guys, on more occasions that the sun has risen. I always got out of it, otherwise, I wouldn’t be telling you this story. Most of the time, I get out of those situations unscathed but occasionally, things don’t have a positive outcome. It happens. Being disrespected is a reality for every human being I believe. I am not dismissing how women are disrespected, that’s not the point of this text. I am talking about a specific situation, not comparing disrespects, ok? As a guy, if another guy disrespects you, usually, it is the verbal confrontation you must deal with. It rarely becomes physical with age, but it can still happen.
A woman had disrespected me. Yes, it matters to say “a woman”. You can think it’s misogyny or sexism, that’s your prerogative. It isn’t but to each their own interpretation. As a man, I don’t deal the same way with disrespect. It’s just a fact, a reality for me.
Nevertheless, and I am being honest, women rarely disrespect me. We could sit here and debate the reasons of that fact, but we won’t find a right answer, just a bunch of very subjective answers. I have been disrespected by women a handful of times. I walk away when I see that the person is about to become violent. If they keep raising their voice and I see they are not about to calm down anytime soon, I simply walk away, for real. Man or woman, when the person becomes aggressive, I walk away. The disrespect we can always talk about it if the person is open to a discussion. If they keep disrespecting while being aggressive, ciao! No time to waste. I literally walk away.
Unfortunately for me, I was in a car and I couldn’t really walk away. Well, technically, I could have but that option never penetrated my mind. I sat there, fuming, furious, dizzy, perplexed, ashamed, mad, and sincerely lost. My mind was trying to process the vile words she had used towards me. My body was trying to calm down. I was breathing slowly, my hands were clutching the wheel as tightly as a vice. Just like in the movies, the outside world had ceased to exist. There was only silence. Someone called my name. It brought me back. The same lady said something else. A friend told her to shut up and to not talk to me that way. The help came 5 seconds too late, but at least someone said something.
I didn’t know what to do. Violence was out of the question, of course. But I had to say something. I couldn’t let it go. I mean, I couldn’t let someone punk me. Usually, anyone who comes at me, I shoot back. I am proud to say I do not discriminate, I am an equal opportunist, men, women, kids, old, young, black, brown, white, green, blue, purple, straight, gay, non-gender specific, etc. I don’t give a fuck who you are. If you attack me or someone I care about, I will come for you. We can certainly talk about it later, but first you get a taste of your own medicine, a “proportionate” response (well sometimes, I might go a bit overboard, I admit it!). It might sound a bit contradictory with the “walking away” part. It isn’t. If you come at me in furious and aggressive manner, I simply walk away. If you want to have a verbal spat that can stay above ground, we’ll do that. If you punk me, I will punk you back. If you become too aggressive, then ciao!
I hadn’t been disrespected openly in front of people in a while and that played an important part in my silence. The air became heavy in the car. I was mad, the lady next to me was mad because someone told her to shut up. Finally, someone suggested a bar. We went there and I stayed in the car. Everybody left and I chose to sit in the car by myself for a while before going in. I knew I couldn’t have fun because I was still mad. I sat in my car for an hour. Everybody took turns to come and see me. They wanted to check up on me and make sure I was ok. Clearly, I wasn’t. I requested to be left alone and they respected my wish. I went into the bar and gave the keys to one of my friends and I told them I was going for a walk. I spent an hour walking around, listening to music and I finally calmed down. They called me, I went back, got into the car, drove everybody home and I went to my girlfriend’s place. I didn’t want to wake her so I slept in the living room. The next day, she asked me what had happened because I never slept in the living room, “you always sleep in our bed. What happened yesterday?”. How well she knew me! God bless her heart.
I told her what happened, and she couldn’t believe my reaction! “You said nothing?”, she asked. I nodded and she had more questions. I had even more questions. She wanted to fight the young lady. “Nobody disrespects my man like that! I will beat her ass!”. It was kinda sexy to see my girl take the situation seriously. She was semi-gangsta! I politely ask her to ignore the young lady whenever she would see her and she did. There was no use for violence or any other shenanigans. I got disrespected and she got away with it. I needed at least two hours to calm down when usually it simply takes 15 minutes to calm down or half a second to dismiss someone’s disrespect.
I remember telling my therapist about that incident and she asked me what I thought about it. I didn’t know then, and I still don’t know now. It was one of the weirdest nights of my life. Perhaps, my fatigue and my annoyance exacerbated what I had heard. Perhaps, the unexpected nature of the disrespect was a factor. Perhaps because she was a woman it meant I couldn’t be aggressive or as mean as I usually am with dudes. Yes, I am sexist like that, sue me! Perhaps, the fact that no one came to my defense right away added to my confusion. Perhaps, a million other things, who the hell knows? But it was a good humbling exercise. I got slapped in the face metaphorically and I could only take it.
I went back and I asked the other people about what the young lady had said. They all confirmed what I heard. They all agreed she was out of line, way out of line. It gave me some solace to know I wasn’t exaggerating stuff. The young lady and I do not run in the same circles. I barely know her. However, I asked around. Apparently, she spreads her contempt and disdain freely and with a smirk on her face. Life will teach her a lesson. I saw her last year, at a party. Our eyes met and we spent the night avoiding each other. I guess my lack of desire to interact with her matches her own. I personally love it. There is no misunderstanding, no hypocrisy, no lies, no deception, no need to “reconcile”. We were never friends and we will never be. I know I don’t like her. I am positive she doesn’t like me. And life goes on.
I still don’t know why I couldn’t react that night in the car. That question almost burned a hole in my brain. Then I realized there are some things I will never understand. And frankly, who gives a fuck at this point? Whatever happened, cannot be changed and it shouldn’t. Life goes on, right?
Just one man’s opinion.
Now smile and go on with your day!