This is the point where I realised I'm middle aged. Because when I was a tween, what would I have queued up for T-shirts and posters for? Bands, of course - specifically, bands consisting of pretty boys. This one is called One Direction and (again with the middle age) I've never heard of them. So I went and looked. Based on the one video I watched, they do catchy, sing-along pop, there's five of them, they're vaguely cute and trying to do the Beatles thing. Bonus shot of the London Eye, which always makes Si pop up in my head and go "There's my house!"
The thing is, this band is apparently visiting New Zealand and the shop was the chance to get merchandise before going to the show on Sunday. They had little velvet ropes to limit the stampeding and all the mall security were focused on this.
What this meant was that there were also a lot of teenage boys around and they were getting away with doing stuff that they wouldn't normally be able to pull off. Like, skateboarding inside the mall. And here's where I come in.
You see, as I walked through there was a bunch of five or so boarders moving along with me. They sporadically dropped their boards and skated, then picked them up and walked, not sure of their unexpected freedom. However, as we approached the double automatic doors to get out, one of them decided to run the gauntlet and see if he could make it through both sets of doors as they were opening. I was going for the same gap - and here's the thing - to him I was more or less invisible. He obviously saw me, but I didn't register as anything but an obstacle, and he cut me off to make the gap before I did. Which made me mutter like the curmudgeonly old fart that I am apparently turning into.
They didn't do themselves any favours by loudly discussing their 'bitches' while skating around the car park I then had to walk through. I don't think they were doing it for my benefit - I suspect that as someone who fits firmly into the 'mother' age group and who was wearing work clothes, the fact that I might be able to hear them didn't even cross their minds. Middle aged women are invisible, right? But yeah, the way these guys used the word, it's pretty clear that for them it's synonymous with 'girlfriend' and that they didn't see saying 'bitch' as any different from saying 'girl' - sort of like you can say 'man' or 'guy'. That was the impression I got - it's become so ubiquitous that for these guys, it's lost its derogatory meaning. I'm not sure how I feel about that.
As I was trying to decide how I felt about it, one of them started skating towards me - not in a deliberately threatening way, but in with a certain sense of entitlement - he knew I was there but seemed pretty sure that I would get out of the way. After all, I could see him too. However, by this point he'd already cut me off as if I didn't exist once, and used derogatory insults in front of me as if I didn't exist, and my contrary nature decided it was time to assert myself. I exist, damnit, and I am not getting out of your way just because you want the space I'm walking in, you entitled little shit. Or thoughts to that effect.
So instead of getting out of his way, I braced myself. Because of the skateboard and his size, his solar plexus was about level with my shoulder and I heard the air rush out as he hit me. It knocked him off his board and he had to run and pick it up. He was all apologies as I walked away, but sadly, the only thing I could think of to say was "Look where you're going."
I guess standing him up and saying "Part of not being a dick on a skateboard is being aware of the people around you and trying to avoid running into them. You've already cut me off once, there was no way I was going to let you do it again, also that was a blatant dick move. Middle aged women are stronger than we look and by the way, do you kiss your mother with that mouth?" Would be a bit too much eh? I could even have thrown in a few "Young man"s and "Get off my lawn"s for good measure.
Meanwhile, I've been told I ought to consider taking up skate hockey.
The thing is, I'm not sure I like this part of my nature. I like the part that means that I don't go through my life in fear, that means I'm ok with stepping in to potentially dangerous situations because I know I can handle myself physically, the part where it really helps with facing down charging rams and the like. What I'm not sure about is the way that my first reaction to feeling threatened is almost always aggression. Still, after all these years. Used to be I knew I was going to have to fight so I'd just start out that way and get it over with faster. Now, the likelihood of me having to defend myself either physically or emotionally is so small as to be negligible - yet, there is still this I WILL NOT BE DOMINATED thing going on under the surface and incidents like the other day serve as reminders - and yeah, it makes me slightly uncomfortable in my skin to feel that.
But then I think, what were the alternative ways of dealing with that situation? I could have got out of his way I guess, but then I'd have spent the rest of the day stewing about how I enabled this young guy to continue treating other people as though they don't count - treating ME as if I don't count. I guess I could have clotheslined him but that would be an attack and nobody deserves that. So from the perspective of there being only three choices, choosing to allow the consequences to play out was possibly the best option. But why do I care enough to do it? And what if there are options I hadn't thought of because my instant aggressive response clouded out any other possibilities?
I have no idea. Thoughts welcome - I'd like to learn new ways of dealing with things like this, but in this case I'm a bit stumped.
Thing that came through my feed this morning that made me grin: In which Jim Hines tries out poses - specifically, the poses that men are required to strike on various fantasy/romance book covers. I LOLed.
Meanwhile, I have to wait another whole week for the mark for my first assignment. This means I'm going into the second one blind, with no experience-based guidance as to what the markers are looking for. I am disappoint.