I used to believe that being ballsy was a good thing. Called it Moxy. Would say “Good for you,” for having the nerve to confront someone when it’s easier not to. I suppose it is a good thing, except when you’re DELUDED BEYOND REPAIR—when you believe speaking up against some injustice is an admirable gesture, when it in fact simply makes you vulgar.
I’m sitting outside beneath an umbrella outside of a Starbucks, beside Way Beyond Bagels. I’ve had breakfast at this table, I’ve purchased two bagels that have been stuffed away in my bag—snacks for the kids as I drive them from school to gymnastics—and I’m sipping an iced unsweetened passion lemonade from Fourbucks. I have a folder filled with papers for my writing class tonight, and on my lap is my MacBook Air, a feather of a thing. I’m doing work. I come here to work, uninterrupted, to enjoy the weather, and to eavesdrop (a lifelong pastime that sometimes shifts me into writing gear). So far, I’ve overheard slips of conversations from a woman who owns a home in Old Westbury (where I went to high school), an elderly couple on the phone with their son, telling him about their dog, how she’s had a growth removed, how they’ve just come from the vet, where her stitches were removed and she was groomed. I didn’t realize vets also did grooming. I don’t know why it would surprise me. There are, after all, doctor’s offices that offer facials. I’ve seen a woman with a fine meringue of maroon hair in a pink embroidered tunic, capri jeans, white sandals and a brass purse screech “EXCUSE ME,” at a man standing in the way of her table for all of four seconds. I will hear this voice for the rest of my day. It’s the voice of Estelle Harris. I heard that Rockland County, NY gets a lot of funding for the deaf, “and also kids with Asperger’s.”
The dog just back from the vet, freshly groomed
When the lunch hour begins to amp up, people search for tables. They all find one sooner or later; there isn’t a shortage, and there certainly isn’t a line of customers waiting to pounce. In fact, I’d probably feel guilty monopolizing a table during rush hour. Guilty to the point where I’d feel the need to, for example, to list all the reasons I was entitled to be here, as in: I’ve had breakfast at this table, I’ve purchased two bagels, I’m sipping a drink I bought at the bucks.
Then, a woman with equal parts hair and exposed scalp, looks at me, then down at my table, and shrieks, “You are not allowed to sit there. You’re just reading. Get up.” Get up? I don’t care how old you are; wrinkles do not excuse rude. I look around, just to get some confirmation that I’m not the only one hearing this, that she is in fact squawking. I find validation at the table across from mine, where two women, holding sandwiches mid-bite, have caught my eye and rolled their own.
“Get up? Excuse me, Ma’am, you might look like a woman, but that’s some set of balls you’ve got.”
“So, are you getting up?”
“No,” I say with a smile. “I have every right to be here.”
“You’re not even eating.”
“You’ve got some nerve,” I say.
To which she responds, “No, I don’t. You do.”
We don’t all grow up, no matter how old we are. I say nothing else to her, just open this window to write this post.
When the women at the table across from mine have finished their lunch, they walk over to me and shake their heads, repeating, “So, are you getting up?”
“I can’t even believe,” I say.
“Well, welcome to Boca, honey. It ain’t always pretty.”
But it is fascinating, I think. Though, what if this “courage” is contagious?
Should I feel guilty, sitting here, enjoying my time writing, as a paying customer? Fuck no. And fuck her.