I can’t remember how long ago it was, but at one point in my life
I decided that whenever I was going to pick up an object off the ground that I had dropped,
I was going to look around me to make sure nobody was right next to me.
I honestly don’t think anybody had ever pounded my head in while trying to tie my shoes or fetch a coin.
It might have been inspired by that thing in basketball when people say “heads up”,
and you decided to put your head down so you don’t get bopped on the nose.
As a form of safety as well as revenge against others’ recklessness. It might have been an extension of that thing where somebody pokes your right side, from behind,
and appears on your left, as a friendly form of teasing, though potentially for crueler activities.
I check around me before picking up my baseball cap before it falls off. You never know who’s watching.
You do egregious things with a low potential for value. for the high reward of potential use.
This time was different, however. I was in a street with cars. Not many, any accidents unlikely, but still, it’s a street with some speeders from the freeways.
So when I decided to pick up the cap, I thought, I shouldn’t do it slowly. But I shouldn’t put all of my energy into it either.
I should do it with a wide range of vision. I should make my movement flexible.
I should do something outrageously complicated for a simple action. I should do something tremendously small for a complicated maneuver.
What I did was, spin somewhat like a breakdancer, or like Super Mario doing some kind of Spin Jump or the Super Jump Punch.
How very excessive and not excessive. How self-congratulatory and yet not. How amused I was to have gone through with it. How practical and impractical.
How self-perservationy. How self-expressiony. How novel. How not.
How very unlike what I’d expect a person to or be….is what I would say….if I didn’t know what it meant to feel so very fabulously dragonish.
Every moment in the spin, I didn’t lose speed. If a car came my way I could have probably dodged it.
It was a taste of what gymnasts feel when they balance.
Of dancers when they sway.
And even of heroes when they take risks.
……How hard is it to tell someone their sick behavior is far from interesting or beautiful or special or useful? How hard is it to condemn something that really disgusts you in someone else’s choices?
It’s as hard as convincing someone they’re “dumb” or “mean” or “pathetic” for doing things they already knew were kind of silly and out of place.
As hard as invalidating the part of someone that hesitates a lot before a plunge.
As hard as telling someone they’re a nuisance when they were taking major risks.
As hard as making someone think there’s no value
in defying what seems like common decency,
to prevent anyone else’s malice or foolishness to, potentially, bring them disgrace.
Most of the people you call assholes barking hatred feel like dragons with their wings spread out, ready to beat them in case arrows come their way.
Aware such flapping of wings is a nasty trait made for intimidation and locomotion, and only loosely, for defense.
To move through society is to be egregious. And you will, without fail, find much of that egregiousness very powerfully endearing, and much of it very sickeningly loathsome.
I want to wear how in touch I am with that upon my body like armor made of that which has been slain.
The key to changing our behavior, to criticizing that which can’t is knowing what makes someone feel like they’re finding new ways to evade the sneering eyes that resemble our own, in a way not fully baked in hatred.
But I do say, anyone tempted to make a joke out of someone crawling for a lost trinket, my slapping their face in concrete,
but totally defy that, and aspire to negate that,
is part of what makes us very civil, and makes me smile despite how shitty we can be.
Which is good, because when someone with a bad spine drops a quarter, I rarely look behind me.
Perhaps numbed by a sense of purpose, or the fact that, in that moment, we’re a team, cooperating.
We need to have each other’s backs. As most of us city folk really do, and wish we could.