There are times I say nothing. There are times I decide that I’m going to let it go, rise above and turn the other cheek.
There are times I decide that I am not going to do that.
Ethan was having a particularly hard time on the beach last night. He is apt to do that. He went from ‘happy man’ to ‘I’m going home’ within the hour. Doritos and a coke had no bribery value. I believe he was using the ploy to visit the men’s room as a mode to get closer to the parking lot. He asked that I not come with him. So, I went incognito and followed at a distance. That’s when I saw it unfolding.
There were a group of what looked like 20-somethings following closely behind him. I saw the nudges and pointing before the comments started. I know how this goes. I’ve seen it far too many times.
There was laughing and whispering, pointing and a girl shrieking ‘stop it – you’re so mean!’
‘I want to buy the poor guy a donut’
‘Look at his head’
Then, ‘Fat r-word’
I waited for Ethan to walk ahead and enter the men’s room. Then it was my turn.
‘I hear you running your mouth you ignorant piece of crap! You must be some tough guy to pick on someone like him! Yeah, you – keep your head down and keep walking.’ Some more followed.
But from him and his pathetic, little group there was only more laughing and shoving of one another and looks of shock. They thought he was alone and they could carry on their recreational mocking in private. How dare I talk back, right?
Bullies count on you to be quiet. I explain it to the boys all the time. They expect you to be hurt and embarrassed. They expect complacency. They count on you to be placid. I tell them to meet those kind of people where they’re at – head up and mouth open.
On our way back from our journey, I noticed the same guy sitting with a large group of people. I expected it was his family. When Ethan was a safe distance toward our group, I approached him.
‘You know, jackass, his life is hard on a good day, on a bad day it is something that a piece of garbage like yourself wouldn’t know what to do with. People like you make my whole family’s life harder. He deals with more shit then you probably ever will and you need to know that ‘what comes around truly does go around’. I hope your family here knows what a scumbag you are.’
He said he didn’t do it. He said he didn’t say anything. He said he was ‘trying to help’. Lying sack of crap.
That’s when his dad got up and used ‘fat’ in front of the B-word. He said I was making a scene. I informed him that if his son wanted to make Ethan a spectacle, that I’d give the same back. Let’s make a scene. I may have referenced his height. I may have made my sailor-father proud with the string of swear words I put together.
And then, I walked away. Tears welled up and I started to break down. But that was ok, because by then I was back with the people who care deeply for me and Ethan and the rest of my family. I am glad they were there and that I was not alone.
I am writing about this scene, because it is rattling around in my head. It brings up my worse fears and greatest disappointments. I become sickly aware that someday Ethan will be a grown up and I will not always be there to defend him. Then I remember, that he has three brothers, being raised by me.
I am still debriefing this situation. I play out alternative endings and rehash my tirade. I am thinking about how I want these things to play out in the future.
I wondered ‘what would Jesus do?’
Jesus did some yelling and table-flipping.
I am not Jesus.
Theresa Giudice did some yelling and table flipping.
Oh well. I am glad I got this off my chest. Thanks for listening.