Robert Bush 6:31 p.m., May 18
I almost got my ass kicked in the food-4-less parking lot off Broadway in El Cajon. I wanted to buy the popsicles that are imported from Mexico that look like rockets. When I lived within walking distance of the same store my freezer was always stocked with them. Mostly, it was nostalgia that lead me in the direction of the food-4-less that day.
It all went down immediately after my kids attended vacation bible school where they learned about Jesus and held baby chicks. Directly following their wholesome activities I found myself in a screaming match with a lady three times my size while innocent onlookers stood around watching us like a low budget reality show.
It’s my husband’s fault. He was supposed to buy a minivan but instead he opted for a Jeep, one with ridiculously heavy doors. Because of his Isuzu Amigo, or as I like to call it, his little friend, I innocently banged my door into the car next to me. The woman who owned the car was sitting in it yapping on the phone.
“I am so, so, sorry! These doors are heavy!” I told her while smiling innocently.
I had never seen a human being move so fast. She was out of her car and standing next to me .006 seconds. I could smell Cheetos on her breath. When her face was within an inch of mine I realized that things were going to get ugly.
“You better start praying!” she spit out. I could see tiny chunks of orange flying through the air. “Pray now that there is no damage!” I thought about getting on my knees and arching my fingers ironing board style towards the sky. Maybe she would laugh if I took her literally. If I said a quick Hail Mary she would return to her car and finish her phone conversation. By the look on her face I realized that option was out of the question. She didn’t strike me as someone who laughed a lot.
She thoroughly examined her Dodge Neon with its dented bumper. “Look, right here,” she pointed to some grime on her car “do you see that?”
“Yep, you’ve got some dirt on your car, we can get some water and I’ll wash it off.” My voice had a hint of sarcasm in it. As the words brazenly tumbled out I wished I could stuff them back in.
Apparently Cheeto lady was not a fan of sarcasm. She lost it. I could see the veins in her forehead. I made the mistake of telling her to calm down. As a kid I would say the same phrase to my mom when I thought she was overreacting. She told me time and time again that there is nothing more insulting then telling someone to calm down. I am a slow learner.
The unhappy owner of the Neon got right up in my space. The soles of my shoes were touching her sandaled feet. Her toes were painted red and I could see shiny rhinestones sparkling in the center of each nail. "You did not just tell me to calm down!" she yelled. She started waving her finger in front of my nose. I had never actually seen a real person do this, only guests on afternoon talk shows. I was afraid that I was going to laugh. I am a nervous laugher. I giggle at the most inappropriate moments. When my best friend did a flip off her bicycle in elementary school, I stood there paralyzed with laughter. She broke her arm and didn’t speak to me for months.
"I think you need to relax. Clearly no damage has been done to your car. You are acting a little crazy." I told her. That was not what she wanted to hear. While her yells reached higher decimals I became Zen-like to fight off the chuckle making its way up my throat. Big lady was highly offended by my calmness and in turn became more and more belligerent. She thought I was being smug. I was. I couldn’t help it. I can be a jerk sometimes.
She started to really use her lungs. I was terrified. I was positive she would punch me. I began to think that there will be blood and a broken nose. I imagined myself losing teeth. The police would come and write up a tidy report and we would be issued tickets for disorderly conduct. They would arrest us both for creating a public disturbance. My kids would tell their teachers. I would become the only mom barred from classroom volunteering due to my criminal record. I wouldn’t even be allowed to bring in cupcakes. I looked back at the jeep and saw my kids cowering in the back seat. Crazy-lady makes the mistake of calling me a bitch. I was no longer calm.
“Listen lady, my kids are in the car, don’t talk like that. That’s tacky.” Upon hearing the word tacky she brought her face even closer to mine. We were nose to nose. She was spitting on my face. I could feel her breath bouncing off my skin. I imagined her plump fingers reaching for my throat. I was convinced I would die by strangulation. I could see her pores. They were large pockets carved into her skin like puddles.
Since I had been called a bitch I refused to back down and began to yell along with her. I told her she was insane and freaking out for no good reason. Finally she stormed off. I felt like I have won. Like we were competing in an Olympic event and I had taken the gold and she has nothing. Zero. Zilch. Now that her back was turned I started hurtling insults. I morphed into the nerdy girl on the playground with bandaged knees, glasses sliding down the bridge of my nose. The kid that always got her ass kicked because she never knew when to shut the hell up. Mothers innocently walking to their cars balancing groceries in one arm and toddlers in the other stopped in their tracks and stared at me. Their mouths were gaping open. I had crossed over. I had become the tacky one. The crazy lady in the parking lot that they would talk about over pork chops and mashed potatoes when their husbands arrived home from work.
Cheeto lady turned around sharply. That was the moment I thought I was going to die. Instead she started taking pictures of me with her camera phone. I waved and smiled smugly like a true insane person and got in my car and drove away. She yelled after me “That’s right, run away, little girl!”
From the back seat Andrew said “She was really scary but wow mom you were mean!”
It’s refreshing when a 10 year-old can make you feel like an idiot.