Saturday, July 18, 2009

Driveway Rage

July is the month for backyard celebrations, and the streets get clogged with extra parked cars, as is expected. Today I have trouble pulling into my driveway because there is a big, blue Dodge Ram with an extended cab partially blocking it. The owner, a shaggy blond guy about my age in a muscle shirt, happens to be exiting his vehicle as I pull up. He observes the look on my face before I can swallow it. Then he gets defensive. I maneuver the minivan packed up with my three ducklings' Hot Wheels, and bicycles, squeezing past him as best I can. He stands next to the passenger side door of his truck watching me, a half-smoked Marlboro hanging from his mouth. I step out of my car in my driveway and slam the door. He glares at me and I glare back. Neither of us mention our thoughts on the position of his truck. Then he throws his cigarette butt down on the sidewalk and saunters across the street. I watch him as I change the baby's diaper in the back seat, since I just stopped home quickly and have to go right back out. The diaper is rancid and I can feel the rage rolling up from somewhere deep in my gut where every feeling that I swallow gets lodged, until moments like this.

It's not really the fact that his car is partially blocking my driveway that makes me so angry. It is the way he looks at me, as if to say, "To hell with you. I will do what I please, and F you lady."

Now, I am in no way a mind reader. However, it is this perceived nonverbal message that sends me into a fury, causing me to lock the car and cross the street to the fence gate he closed behind him. Sometimes my soul forgets it lives in a little woman's body.

Everything else seems to be drowned out by the sound of my anger and the snapping of my $5 Old Navy flip flops on the pavement. One hand is still clenching the folded up toxic diaper. The other fist is tremoring. I open my fingers and smooth my denim skirt with the free hand, trying to calm myself down in a mental prayer.

"God, Why am I so full of rage right now? Please help me calm down, or this might not go well."

Prayer or not, little Loren still wants to knock the man's teeth out.

The house where the party is located is a rental, and tenants change frequently, so I do not know my neighbors. In fact I do not know a soul in that backyard as I stand in the middle of it, scoping out the rude guy who sent me over the emotional cliff. It turns out the back of his muscle shirt is right in front of me. I tap his shoulder while keeping my eyes on my parked minivan through the open gate.

"Hey, ...Excuse me. The truck. Can you move it up just a bit?" I motion with the hand containing the soiled diaper.

The truck owner's eyes widen at the sight of me. He and another man he is talking to both step back from the diaper in my hand. They look at each other for a moment, which feels like a long time to me, as my brain cools off and my body realizes I'm confronting someone assertively. The shaggy guy takes a long drag on the cigarette in his mouth and throws it to the ground at my feet. I instinctively smash it with my flip flop and hold his stare.

"Well, sure." he finally says, dragging out the "shhh" in sure like a snake.

"I appreciate it." I say through clenched teeth. Then I turn and leave, running back to my driveway where my children are waiting in the car. It takes a few moments for the truck to get moved and I wonder as I'm pulling back out of the driveway if it was worth the trouble of pursuing this man. I ask myself why I snapped into such a frenzy over the situation, and what made him agree to move the truck.

What if he had said no? That's a question my mind did not entertain as my feet marched me toward the gate. I just couldn't let his action stand. Responding to it made me feel alive, as small as the incident was.

"Yeah, but that creep could have killed you." says my father, later over dinner.

Dad is right. But I need to find out what I'm made of. I need to step out of my shell, pull the tags off myself and live a bit before I find myself in another box. I wonder if this urge makes any sense at all.

12 comments:

jenX said...

I ABSOUTELY LOVE THE PART WHERE YOU CRUSH HIS CIGARETTE WITH YOUR FLIP FLOP AND HOLD HIS STAIR.

I loathe being confrontational, but still I do it - trying to right the little wrongs in a crazy world. I'm usually fuming when I do it. I wish I had that southern-drawl charm that can address rude behavior in that sticky-sweet way. No can do. You're a force, Loren. I love it.

Loren Christie said...

Hey Jen. I'm glad you think I did the right thing because I felt pretty crazed. I think the real "force" was the stench of the diaper in my hand. :)

Caity said...

Wow what a jerk. I think you handled it fine. I'm glad you went out there with a soiled diaper. That's fantastic. I get the same exact way when people are so rude to me, as well. I just don't understand why people are just so angry. I try to think to myself how I am fortunate enough to not be like them and I say a prayer for them. It always helps me calm down.

Loren Christie said...

Hi Caity,
The funny thing is, from his strange point of view, I was the angry one and in the end he decided to let it go and move. I find it a bit strange that I can let a whole lot of petty things go over a period of time and then I freak out over something.

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

Hell hath no fury like a woman with a rancid diaper in her hand and a blocked driveway. I'm glad you stood your ground. There is a certain way that animals look at eachother to indicate which is superior. You clearly had the upper hand in your eyes.

Loren Christie said...

Hi Elizabeth, It's funny that you say that about animals...When I taught high school I once overheard one student talking about me to another. He said: "And if you get the look, watch out, you'll have a weekend of writing homework." :)

Anonymous said...

It was the rancid diaper that got this man to move. I am sure he was wondering where it was going to end up - on him or his precious truck. I am sure neither one was what he wanted to deal with. Rather than call your bluff to see what you would do with it, he backed down and moved. Well played, even if the move was unintentional...

GT

Loren Christie said...

Hi G. Maybe you're right. The thought of hitting the man with the diaper or attacking his car with it never entered my mind. I'd never do that unless it was a case of self-defense. I just forgot it was in my hand and have a weak sense of smell. It sure looked like it smelled. I'm totally comfortable with dirty diapers, and they don't bother me at all.I can see what you're saying now that I look back.

Karrie said...

This post totally hit home with me. Whether it be the 'mom' part, or the 'home' part, there's just such a lack of respect these days, and it's a slippery slope that every tends to hop on. I know I would have wanted to slip that diaper under his back seat--heheheh-- but would never really have the nerve to do it. You done good, Loren.

Loren Christie said...

Hi Karrie. I couldn't help how I acted in the moment, and I kind of feel bad in retrospect.

chris said...

so emotive, expressive, and good..

Loren Christie said...

Hi Chris, Welcome and thanks for commenting. Yeah, I can be emotional and it's not always good.

Dear Internet Traveler,

Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.

Fondly,

Loren Christie

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