Give Me Something to Break
Picture the scene: it’s mid-November, the middle of a gorgeous fall in New York City. (You know, except for that whole devastating storm thing that happened a couple of weeks earlier.) It was not yet cold and wintry enough for me to talk myself out of riding my bike to work, so I hadn’t. It was midafternoon and I was on my way home, walking my bike across the street onto the bridge.
Sometimes, many people don’t know how to drive in NYC. Annoyingly, one of the things that these people like to do is stop in the middle of a crosswalk. This is maddening in any situation, but it is especially galling when that crosswalk leads onto the Brooklyn Bridge. I assume that this guy had never heard of it before, because that’s the only reason I can imagine for his failure to stop at the proper place.
I had to cross the street in front of him, in a space that was narrowly large enough for my to fit through with my bike. Sadly, I miscalculated, and accidentally nicked his bumper with my pedal.
Apparently, that showed him that I am a fucking faggot.
At least, that’s what he shouted at me before he threatened to break my face. I was mystified at the time; it almost sounded like a terrible attempt at a proposition. I could only assume that was not his intent, but to this day I have no proof.
Now, I don’t think that I had been called a faggot since middle school. It’s just not a word that the people who regularly insult me tend to use. The sad fact, though, is that it devolved from there. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this about me, but I’m a snarky bastard. I told him, in a volume equal to his, that he should learn to drive. He did not approve of my telling him what to do, and continued to shout at me.
There is a concept known as l’esprit de l’escalier, wherein you think of the perfect thing to say after it’s well too late to say it. I am very, very intimately familiar with this concept; give me a few minutes, and no matter how good I was in the moment, I will think of something better. It’s terrible.
That did not happen here.
I continued to “converse” with this “gentleman” about whether I was an ass for nicking his bumper. You know, the part of his car that he has no doubt knocked against another car in his incompetent attempts to park.
It probably goes without saying that his passenger was mortified. I had the advantage here, as well, being that I was alone. We slowly drew a crowd, one that (given the venue) consisted almost entirely of tourists. I don’t know what they hoped for, but in my head, I think they thought the weird New Yorkers were actually going to fight.
We didn’t. I did get the last word, not necessarily because he was devastated by my wit so much as because his light finally changed. Nevertheless, I thought it appropriate that we ended on me asking him if he wanted to prove how big of a man he was by beating up a mouthy asshole for scratching his bumper. He drove away in a fury, and I got on my bike and pedaled across the bridge, making sure to take advantage of the adrenaline rush.
The honest truth is that I made a mild fool of myself in public, though not for the first time. I did not even care, though, for one major reason: he was a prick and I was right.
I’m really looking forward to getting back on my bike.