This morning a man called Jasmine a f***ing idiot. He said it twice. "You f***ing idiot!" he said, flapping his arms above his head. "What the hell is wrong with you? You f***ing idiot."
She looked up at me with her big blue eyes as she pulled at the loose skin on her neck.
It was meant for me, but he had looked straight at her.
I was making a right hand turn through a crosswalk, just as he stepped off the curb to cross the street. I had seen him on the corner, but which direction he intended to cross was not clear. And with the morning sun in my eyes, and a steady stream of frantic traffic behind me, I went.
As soon as I saw him, I stopped mid-turn, and waving my hand, mouthed the words,"Oh, sorry." That's when he peered straight at my little girl and said what he said.
I think the most troubling part about it was that he didn't look like a crazy person. He was out for his morning jog, fifty-ish, greying, in an expensive sweatsuit and running shoes.
Maybe I made a bad call, maybe I was just flat out wrong, maybe I even deserved a ticket...
But Jasmine really didn't need that this morning...minding her own business, just hoping she gets a top locker.
"Jasmine, I am so sorry that happened," I said. What a way to start the day, huh?"
"Yeah, and on my second day of Jr. high too!" And then she scrunched up her face and tugged at her neck some more.
How do you explain to an eleven year old that some people are just assholes?
I'm trying to have grace for the guy, clearly he was afraid for his very life, but I'm also kinda hoping I see him again when Jazi isn't with me, so I can simply inform him of his errant ways.
We continued on down the road and listened to Cat Stevens sing out, "Oooh, baby,baby, it's a wild world..."
And then even more people were crazy mean out there, speeding around, cutting each other off, honking their horns...as if 911 never happened.
I remember for months after the planes crashed into the buildings that people seemed to be kinder to each other, at the post office, in the grocery store, even on the roads. I think it was enough for people just to see other people alive.
"It's a harsh world," I told Jaz. "People shouldn't speak to each other that way."
Jazi looked up at me and said, "Mama, you know what I do when something like that happens?"
"What sweetie?" I asked.
"I pray," she says to me. "I pray for myself, that I can forget about it and that I will feel better."
And then she put on her best, almost-twelve, brave face.
But I don't feel better. I hurt that this world can be so ugly.
Ya know those signs that they have in all the home stores lately? The ones that say things like, "Live, love, laugh" or "Be creative?" I kinda hate them. They feel bossy.
But after this morning...I think I might have to paint one up. I'll write something simple like, "Don't scream the F word at children."
And then I'll hang it up on that street corner.
...Sad day that a grown man has to be told this.