I pulled into the parking lot of a theatre with my girlfriend (partner? I never know the best moniker for the woman I love) the Friday before the election. (I feel as though it will forever be referred to as “THE election.”) We parked at the exact same time as our friend and her 12-year-old goddaughter. We got out, walking towards each other sharing greetings, at the same time a man stopped on the sidewalk. He began shouting at our friend, “You fucking bitch! Who the fuck do you think you are?!?” He was beyond angry and continued an obscenity-laden tirade aimed at our friend.
She kept walking towards us, not breaking eye contact, then glanced at her goddaughter, presumably to comfort, then smiled and nervously laughed, “I don’t know what that’s all about.”
We began making our way towards the theatre, while the man continued his outburst from the sidewalk. Nobody in the parking lot – was there even anyone there? – jumped in to offer support.
Then, he stepped off the sidewalk and began coming towards our friend, shouting obscenities. And every single alarm in my body went off.
I stepped between them. No hesitation.
I snapped my fingers and pointed my finger at him – like a mother to a child having a tantrum. (Or a lesbian to a barking dog. Frame of reference is important, friends.)
“Absolutely not. Not OK. Unacceptable.”
These were the phrases that came out of my mouth.
Absolutely not. Not OK. Unacceptable.
He seemed momentarily stunned. Me, in my searsucker blazer and heels (I was wearing fucking heels), snapping in his face, shocked him to silence.
“Who the fuck do you think you are?!?!” he spat out.
I stood my ground. “Move along, sir. Move on,” I responded. “This is not OK. Move on.”
He turned and slowly walked away. Not happily. He was muttering obscenities, but he moved on.
Now, I know that this had a much better ending than it could have had. He could have become physically violent. To be fair, I was prepared for violence. I had a posse of three behind me. Two and half, really, ‘cause one is only 12-years-old. And, honestly, our pal probably could have handled herself. (The woman conceal carries in her fancy purse for crying out loud.)
But when he stepped off that sidewalk everything inside me said, “He is a threat. Stop him from moving closer.”
As the 45th President’s inauguration nears, I can’t help but liken it to that evening in the parking lot. Up until January 20, he’s been on the sidewalk, but post-January 20, he’s walking towards us.
I am on high alert. I am preparing for what comes next.
But…in the meantime, it’s back to work.
I’ll volunteer more of my time. I’ll give more of my money to the organizations who are doing the work. I’ll make more phone calls and write more letters. I’ll also continue to look for commonalities and work towards common goals.
But I stand at the ready to step in when I see the unacceptable. And I’ve been practicing my snap.