when you've walked 15 blocks in a gold jockstrap and a blue wig, that's when you can tell me your gripes about feeling unsafe in public. that's what i should have said to the hysterical woman last week.
sometime between high school and my initiation into the world of restaurants i went shopping for a shirt. now, i always thought i was relatively well schooled. but wandering around the men's department i was exposed to a greek fable that has lingered in the shadow of my life to this day.
as i glanced at myself, wearing my fabulous new shirt (white, plastic, with a zipper on the top of my right shoulder - hey! 1983 if i need to justify!), some guy walked by and said:
"you're a real narcissist, aren't you?"
i had no idea what he was talking about.
"you enjoy watching yourself, you're a narcissist"
and he walked off, and i wore my shirt to the new club and drank fun ice cream drinks all night long, and forgot about the rude little queen from the department store.
it's tough not to believe that there is something unseen in the universe when people you know, from all over the place, complain about the same thing on facebook. i don't care what the studies say about full moons affecting our behavior, if you lived through last tuesday, you know what i'm talking about.
i was relatively young when i started waiting tables. i was good at it because somewhere inside of all this craziness is a selfish need to organize. but it took me a full decade of carrying plates of hot food to strangers to understand the joy of customer service.
it was that night when the couple who had saved their money for years to spend a week in new orleans, a place they had wanted to visit ever since they got married, and they were out celebrating their thirty or forty year anniversary. at the end of the meal, they told me their story, and thanked me for giving them a night that they would remember for the rest of their lives.
but with the good, you also get the sour. why do people behave the way they do sometimes? why don't people speak up when they see some asshole screaming at a counter person for no good reason.
do you think assholes realize how terrible they are? i'm positive they are the real narcissist in our society. it seems they are only capable of seeing themselves through the actions and reactions of the people they interact with. how small it must be to have your existence confirmed through complaints and shouts.
so i come back to the woman, who felt threatened by the slightest of mistakes, when a feeble old man walked into the women's room by accident and she flew into hysterics about personal safety and my inability to understand what she was talking about because i was a man. i know she saw herself as the perpetual victim, waiting for that bad thing to finally grab her and end it all.
for myself, i have shirked the mirror and prefer to think that i am an exhibitionist. out on the limb, trying to discover how far i can climb. the clown at the back of the class, the guy on the float who decided to stop watching the parade go by.