Wednesday evenings have somehow become take-away night. The reasons for this are far too mundane to go into so I shall skip them. But being a connoisseur of the fish & chip supper I’ve been taking myself off to the local chippie at the appointed hour there to purchase the finest cod and chips that my hard won money can buy.
It’s a mere 5 minute walk to the top of the street but it does take me through the badlands – the rough end of the street; the wrong side of the tracks, etc.
By and large I’ve encountered no trouble but have passed some sights that have encouraged an occasional bout of rubber-necking. Couples arguing in cars. The contents of front rooms scattered over DIY gravel drives. And enough snotty nosed 7 year old smoking Marlborough’s to make me think this country’s potential population explosion might be naturally capped in about 40 year’s time.
This Wednesday, however, was different.
There I was, my freshly wrapped chips slung under my arm, heading towards home when 4 lanky youths disembarked very untidily from a house on the other side of the street.
Naturally, minding my own business, I attracted their dubious attention.
Initially I got the ubiquitous “alright mate”. I admit I didn’t respond. I’m rather choosy about whom I consider to be a mate. Maybe this was my mistake? The next two comments were plainly insults – I can’t even recall what they were – followed by loud, rather effeminate hooting laughter.
I didn’t respond again. I carried on walking. Neither quickening nor slowing my pace. Curiously I didn’t actually feel threatened. I’d quickly surmised that these paragons of teenage virtue were no more than 14 or 15 and were merely being buoyed up by each other’s leaking testosterone. On their own they wouldn’t have said boo to a goose.
But afterwards I did feel angry. Not seething, blood boiling angry but angry in a “maybe I should have crossed the road and lamped one of them” kind of angry. Why should they be allowed to get away with such behaviour? What makes them think they can act so aggressively to complete strangers and not have any come-back?
I know, I know.
It’s not worth the risk of a flick-knife in the guts. I’ve got a wife and kids at home. I’ve got cod and chips under my arm. All they’ve got is their own inferiority driving them on to acts of desperate foolhardiness.
But nevertheless the anger was there. Little shits.
In the past I have responded when a complete stranger has seen fit to be arsy with me in the street. I haven’t really thought about it. I’ve just hit boiling point straight away and launched in with some particularly nasty vitriol. The old adage that lions roar so loudly to avoid combat has held true. My opponent has usually turned tail and beat a mouthy retreat.
Afterwards I’ve usually kicked myself for being so damned stupid. But I can’t deny that I’ve also felt a small, glowing sense of satisfaction that I’ve held my own. Stuck up for myself. Taken no shit.
This Wednesday I was just too tired, too preoccupied, and possibly more sensible.
But even so. I can’t help wishing I’d kicked some ass.
Do you think it’s possible I have been exposed to a small dose of gamma radiation?