I am typically pretty reserved around people I know (I was extremely shy growing up). I am particularly reserved around “friend of a friend” type people. This stems from the fact that I hate regret. Awful, awful feeling. If you know someone and you do or say something regrettable, you will be reminded of it every time you see them.
However, with strangers–people you are probably never going to see again–the constant reminder is not there. It’s just a memory. I have always said exactly what I wanted to say around strangers (this includes people at the bar, cashiers at retail stores, and encounters with asshole drivers). People act like you are supposed to say what you are feeling, but they do not actually mean it. Our entire lives are a bunch of white lies we tell by excluding most of what we are actually feeling. Just think of how you act around your boss, for instance, compared to what’s going on inside your head. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing.. it’s just part of life.
Like I said, I have always been this way, and I don’t know why. I was a well-behaved child around my parents and in school (until age 14 or whatever when I engaged in the common misdeeds of a teenage boy), but I never had any fear or shyness of strangers when I was alone. It’s a very strange dynamic.
I’m sure my parents knew a lot more than I gave them credit for at the time, but I’m still convinced that they had no idea how bold and audacious their shy, undersized child could be. One time, in either the summer of 1992 or 1993 (I was 11 or 12), I was riding my bike with my neighbor Michael. We would cruise up and down our little street for hours sometimes, just being kids. Bikes are fun, even to this day.
When we passed Michael’s house, he turned up his driveway to go home and get some lunch, and I continued on. About five houses up, there was a young couple walking their baby in a true baby carriage… the ones where the baby lies flat on its back like a bed and you push it along. This was a tiny, new baby. They were walking on the right side of the street (actually the wrong side of the street to walk if there are no sidewalks). In Georgia, most residential streets do not have what you would think of as real curbs. The asphalt connects to sort of concrete gullies on either side of the street. They look sort of like this. If you are riding on the street, you can just ride right up these gullies into the grass… it’s like a small, gradual ramp. You can even get some air if you are going fast. So anyway, these people were walking in front of me and I decided I was going to take my bike up the little concrete curb and ride around them in the grass.
Well, I botched it. I picked the wrong time to display poor riding skills. I slammed into the back of the carriage. I immediately felt guilt. The baby cried, the mom overreacted (new mom) and started checking her baby for injuries with an extremely panicked look. I started to apologize to the mom, but the dad firmly grabbed my arm and spun me around.
“Where do you live?! Which house is yours?!?” He asked.
“Ow, you’re hurting me!” I replied.
“You hurt my baby! Now which house is yours? I’m going to talk to your parents!” He was bending down at the waist, face-to-face with me, trying to be intimidating.
My guilt immediately washed away. Who does this guy think he is, anyway?
Without delay, I spit in his face. It was like a reflex; I almost couldn’t believe it. He (of course) exploded in anger, grabbed my other arm, and started squeezing both of my arms while shaking me, demanding to know which house was mine.
“Help! Help! This man is touching me! Heeeelp! He is trying to touch my privates!!!”
His wife, who was already quite upset, tried to hold back her tears as she pleaded with her husband to let go of me (this entire exchange took no more than ten seconds). She was looking around to see if anyone was around to hear me, fear in her eyes. Sorry, lady, but that’s what you get for marrying such an awful jackass.
Needless to say, my captor let me go and angrily walked back down the street in the opposite direction. He was pushing an empty carriage while his wife was trying to console both her child and her husband.
This is probably the point where I flashed an evil smile before continuing with my bike ride.
I never regretted that interaction one bit, except running into the carriage in the first place. The guy unknowingly threatened the wrong kid. I will always win. Always. I spit in the face of a full-grown man and got away with it. This is like the time my tenth grade science teacher decided to declare war on the class, since she was not able to control us like the other, qualified teachers were able to do. I won that one too. She was fired and that teaching job became nothing more than a blight on her resume. I’m sure that story will come out at some point.