2013 – A Park Oddity

park1This week has been a working week.   The deadline on the project where Nothing Works draws inexorably closer and we’re scrambling to write a report, so Wednesday, after working all morning, I decided to take a lunch break for a walk in the park.  I have made a mid-year resolution to walk twelve miles this week … not to long ago that would have been a resolution to run thirty, but that’s in the past.  Knees and Achilles tendons worn by years of running are not up to that any more.  At any rate, I took my 45 minute walk, meditated in my camp chair for fifteen minutes, then headed off to Costco for a cheap lunch (hot dog and drink, $1.59).   On the way out, I stopped at the men’s room near the far end or the park to … well, you know.  As I was standing there … well, you know … someone emerged from the stall and walked behind me, repeating something over and over in a sing-song voice.   I glanced over my should and saw a fortyish man in an orange T-shirt.  He dropped something in the trash and walked back to the stall, saying the same thing several times.  This time I understood … he was saying, It’s a whistling faggot, It’s a whistling faggot.   I was in fact whistling … I’d been listening to the radio in my car and frequently, I am a Whistler, something some people find annoying.  I am not gay but at sixty-nine I no longer offended if some stranger thinks I might be.

I find it interesting to observe myself in such odd situations.  My first reaction was simply astonishment.  Here I was, minding my own business, happily whistling away and some complete stranger hurled what I’m sure he thinks is an insult in my direction.  Then, quickly, anger.  Maybe old habits die hard … after all, I grew up in an era when that was one of the worst things you could say to a man but I don’t think that was it.  I find the term offensive not in its meaning but in it’s derisiveness.  I am not the brightest of bulbs in these situations.  I turned to the stall and said, What the hell is wrong with you, man? half-hoping he’d respond (which he didn’t) and half preparing to run to my car (which I didn’t).  Nothing more was said by either party and I left for Costco but I couldn’t let it go.  There was a part of me that wanted to make him pay for disturbing my relaxing lunch hour.   Part of me wondered what could happen with the many children that frequent the park and what might be an unstable man.  I thought about driving back and telling him I’d called the police … or if I ever saw him in the park again, I would call the police.  I considered going back and taking his picture (from the safety of my car) then posting it all over the park.  The angry male mind can be a childish place.  In the end, I did drive back to the park in time to see him walking toward the riverbed with his back pack, likely one of the many homeless who live there.  Realizing that took the edge off my anger but I haven’t been able to let it go.   At least I know what he looks like so I can avoid him or at least keep an eye on his activities … from a distance … if he turns up again.

So, posting this is my way of letting it go.  What would you have done?

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2 Comments on “2013 – A Park Oddity”

  1. cherperz Says:

    It’s those types of things that stick and gnaw at me. While relatively benign they stem from a hatefulness that is as hurtful as a punch in the gut.

    I admire that you spoke up.

    I have had a few instances of people throwing out some type of derogatory comment my way and some have stayed with me for years. People’s insensitivity can be very hurtful.

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