Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fingers

I don't quite know how to begin this post. It's going to sound like whining, perhaps, and I don't want that. I want to actually say something, but what I want to say may get lost in the story. Well, here goes ...

We had left the theatre and were driving home. Joe decided to cruise up Yonge Street so he turned north to find a wall of traffic. It is said that Canada has two seasons, Winter and Construction, and sure enough on the first really wonderfully warm and sunny day, there was CONSTRUCTION. We didn't care. The windows were down, we were talking about the Opera which we had just seen at the movie theatre. A lazy summer day, in no rush.

Everyone around us had their windows down too and many had their radios blasting so that bits of music burst into the car, mostly an unwelcome intrusion. I suddenly noticed two guys in a muscle car, primarily because they did what they could to catch my attention. The one in the passenger seat took the 'Victory' fingers and pointed first and his eyes, then at mine. He wanted to make sure that I knew he was looking at me. Then he took his forefinger and touched under the point of his nose and pushed up in the universal 'piggy' gesture.

There was a break in traffic in our lane and we pulled ahead. I was relieved. But we slowed again and I could see that the other lane was easing and I simply knew they'd catch up and surely they did. As they pulled by both driver and passenger were looking at me with their noses pushed up. When they saw me, they laughed, hard.

Again, we pulled ahead. As the lanes had collapsed into one, I pointed to the lane on the right and asked Joe to head into it and then take the first turn off Yonge Street. I desperately didn't want to see them again. More accurately, I didn't want them to see me again. Joe asked why and I simply said, 'There's a couple of guys making fun of me in a car back there.' 'Oh,' was all Joe said and we turned off and headed up Church Street instead.

"Sometimes it takes a mammoth act of will not to be hurt by people," I said to Joe. 'I know,' he said. And we were done with it. He's seen it thousands of times before, I've experienced it even more. There was no need for talking. And I did let it go. We came home, chatted with people in the lobby, made dinner, called friends on the phone, did what we normally did. It was all but forgotten.

This morning in bed thinking about a blog for the day, I remembered the two guys in the car. I remembered the mammoth act of will. That people can be cruel is of no great surprise. Learning how to 'be different' in a world where people can torment difference is an amazing skill. I once knew a large woman who simply stopped going out. She just stopped. She was tired of it. I once knew a man with Down Syndrome who simply stopped going out. He had grown tired of it.

I do not wish to give up my right to access the world. I do not wish anyone to remove themselves from public view because of how the public views them. It is of no comfort to think that, as I was out several times yesterday, that hundreds of people did not stare at me, that hundreds did not make piggy faces. The benign kindness of strangers does not and can not make up for the targetted cruelty of others. I had to go somewhere deep in myself, I had to go to that place where I store up self esteem and self worth and make a withdrawl. I had to hold on to my own sense of value, my own sense of who I am, my own conviction of worth.

How others cope, I do not know. Me, I have to hold me and cradle me. Me, I have to nurse my own wounds. Joe knows that his comfort only makes the situation worse, because though it isn't what it seems, it seems like pity. No, it must come from me. I hereby thank every single person who has given me the store of self worth that I keep in reserve. All those who have contributed to my sense of self and my sense of worth and purpose, I thank you. Deeply.

Because I needed what you gave me, and if I didn't have it, I tell you truthfully ... I'd be in danger of deciding never, ever to go out again.

19 comments:

Heike said...

No worries mate. You are more than worth it. More than!

Belinda said...

Wow, it must be awful to be them--to have grown to their age thinking that was okay and funny. What kind of people do that? They are dangerous and nasty and taking them on would have been useless and risky. I would have been terrified and crushed and I would have hated that too. We all have a right to be free of harrassment. I don't know how to make that happen universally. I hate it.

rickismom said...

How utterly terrible for those with no bank-account of self esteeme to draw on...

And yes, Belinda, You are SO right! There is a story of a Jew who was torturred by the Nazis, and came to synagogue (a secret one), and tore off his hat. "I don't want to be Jewish any more!" The Rabbi answered, "And like THEM you would YES want to be?!???"
This tool, Belinda, of recognising that THEY are the ones to be pittied (though at the same time to guard against)is a very powerfull one.....

Whatshername? said...

I hate the evil stares, and the crap from people, too. Let's hope you never ever decide to never go out again.

Baba Yaga said...

I'm not sure how one copes, except by evaluating it at its worth - the stunted expression of stunted souls.

Or by developing a shell,a different form of not going out. Or faking 'normalcy' - and those whose differences are visible don't have that option - , at cost probably not much less than that of enduring cruelty.

FridaWrites said...

I know what you mean--I was wondering once whether it's worth it to be out because of the harassment, and someoe said that's not what the disability activists worked so hard for, for you to stay at home. Often I have to because of health, but that's not the same.

CJ said...

Yes, these two were seriously lacking in a way that can't be seen.....in a way they don't even realize (sadly.)

Your writings often bring up thoughts and memories from my past. Years ago I was walking home from the store. A stray dog was in the street near the sidewalk. A young man drove by and the scared dog tried to get out of the street. The man then began backing up the car, laughing, to try to scare the dog again. I was incredulous and it took a minute for this cruelty to actually register in my brain. When it did, I yelled out "what the f--k is wrong with you?"

I could say the same here.

Can you imagine if these men knew that not only you were of a large size but also physically disabled and a gay man?

I'm glad you were in a car. The vehicle offered you some physical protection from this evil.

What the f--k is wrong with them?

Daniel525 said...

Were you fat as a child? I was. Imagine the misery I endured.

It's a mistake to the view thetaunters as abnormally evil.

They are all too common.

Rosemary said...

I have been in your position, and I understand how you have to find your self-worth deep inside.
I have hidden the house more than is healthy.

Jenn McWhorter said...

Thank you.

Donna said...

It's been almost a year since this - http://donna.innereyes.com/2008/06/08/general-ramblings-6808 happened to me and it STILL bothers me when I think about it. That woman hasn't even given me a second thought, yet I'm still stewing over it. I don't know how to let things go!!

CJ said...

Daniel525,

That it is common does not reduce the evil.

But I agree, it is all too common.

Terri said...

First of all I think the cruelty of others stinks and it makes me sad and mad that you have ever had to put up with it.

Secondly, I think you have made a very interesting point about self-esteem: it does not come from others because if others gave it to you, others could take it away. It comes from knowing who you are, what you contribute and what struggles you have conquered maybe?

I am glad that you have built your own store of self-esteem to draw upon that no one can take away--just sorry you had to use it for this (and I hope getting through this builds more.)

RusW said...

Dave, I understand exactly what you are writing about. I'm sorry that anyone has to endure that. My worst experiences are when the school buses full of young people pull up along side of me at a stop light or traffic jam. How do I cope? I don't really think I do. I just maintain a level of isolation and detachment. I am fortunate to have family, friends and co-workers who see the real me.

Cynthia F. said...

Those mean jerks make me so mad! (I would say how I feel more pungently if this weren't a family website)

Tricia said...

Just so sad that they stoop to such meanness. There is no excuse. I'm glad you are strong enough to weather the attack, it might have left me broken and useless for days. :(

Shan said...

It's no wonder people are so anxious to blend. And - pig noses? what are we, in grade three still?

Who am I kidding...It hurt then, and it hurts now.

lisa said...

It would be a much poorer world if you were not out and about in it.

Lisa

Suelle said...

I'm glad you feel our support, Dave!