Tuesday, September 25, 2012

{the girl}

Photobucket i am very good at some things: making a certain type of cookies and drawing paper cranes and, you know, getting into fights.

i don't know if it's my extremely confrontational nature, or my overly frowny face, but everyone seems to want to beat me up.

girls, mostly, actually.

i can think of about five separate occasions right off the top of my head. five is a lot of people trying to beat you up, even if not all at the same time. and only one of them even had a good reason. {a fantastic reason, even.}

but the point is not that.

the point is that i was at a hey ocean show friday night with some friends. i was standing about six rows back from the stage and enjoying some sick jazz flute, when i noticed a disturbance off to my left.

she was taller than me. this is usually unusual because i'm 5'8". she was lots fatter than me too. i'm not saying this to be mean, i'm just saying it so that you know what i was up against. she wore one of those black shirts with the slits in the sleeves and overly dangly silver earrings and lots of make-up and probably heels, and she was moving vigorously.

VIGOROUSLY.

both arms up, fingers snapping, head bobbing, hips frantically jerking and thrusting as though trying to keep an invisible hoola hoop from falling to her ankles. she elbowed her way through the crowd, ignoring the glares and "hey!"s from those she pushed past. once she was through, she reached back and grabbed the wrist of a smaller version of herself, pulling her roughly though the throng of people who were just trying to enjoy the show, for pete's sake.

i didn't mind her at first. i took a moment to appreciate the comical dancing and cast sympathetic glances at the girl whose space was being thoroughly and successfully invaded, but then i turned my attention back to the stage, back to ashley ball and her terrific stage presence.

unfortunately, i was clearly sending out my usual beat-me-up-please pheromones, and this girl was not oblivious to them. she zeroed in on me and made her way to my side.

lucky me.

she seemed to size me up immediately and hate me instantly. what can i say? it's a gift.

it started with some gentle hip checking. like, you know when you're playing hockey and the 300 pound gorilla on the other team wants you dead? like that.

one particularly significant check sent me flying into a guy standing on my right.

"SORRY!" i shouted at him over the music, smiling apologetically.

"NO PROBLEM!" he shot back, "I KNOW IT'S NOT YOU." he pointed at the girl and shook his head. "CRAZY, HEY?"

i nodded gratefully. crazy.

but, among those other things i mentioned earlier, i am super at holding my own in mosh pits. i am very used to being kicked in the head by crowd surfers and avoiding the dancers and, basically, holding my arm up when someone is being rowdy close by so that if they fly into me suddenly, they'll land on my arm, not on my face. self defence, you guys. polite, pleasant, self defence.

this wasn't, at all, a mosh pit so much as it was a bunch of people swaying to a slow song, but up went my left arm instinctively as i watched warily the great wall of motion out of the corner of my eye.

and so it was, friends, that the next time she flew into me, as expected, the small of her back connected with the sharp little peak that is my elbow. it could be argued, then, that it was i who started the fight, that i 'threw' the first elbow.

she spun around and glared at me--the kind of glare i usually reserve for bank robbers and kidnappers. "WATCH IT!"

i was watching it, i wanted to say. if i hadn't had my arm up, i'd have a black eye.

but i just smiled at her. "sorry." the music was loud. i turned my attention back to it.

i heard her shout to her friend, motioning towards me, "THIS GIRL! HIT HER AS HARD AS YOU CAN! MAYBE SHE'LL GO AWAY!"

i exchanged glances with bethany, who i'd come with. yikes.

it escalated pretty quickly from there. sorries and smiles are, apparently, not a universal language. she continued to dance like a lunatic, slamming against me more and more intentionally. her friend joined in. i kept my arm there, and continued to fix my attention on the stage. like playing dead during a bear attack. i hoped they'd lose interest.

they didn't.

"GIRL. GIRL." she waved a hand in front of my face after a few unacknowledged body-slams. "WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM?"

i smiled at her, sincerely, i hoped. "no problem!" i hollered above the music. "just watching the show!"

"YOU KNOW, I CAME HERE TO DANCE. IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT, YOU CAN LEAVE!"

i nodded. "no problem!" i said again.

"BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, IF YOU'RE GOING TO GET UP IN MY FACE AND STAND RIGHT WHERE I'M DANCING, OF COURSE YOU HAVE TO EXPECT TO GET HIT."

we were drawing some attention from the people around us. the guy i'd run into before touched my elbow. his girlfriend threw me a sympathetic look. they shuffled over and pulled me away from the girl. my mosh pit samaritans.

the girl took offence to this. she followed me through the crowd, standing as close to me as possible, and started whipping my face with a wall of thick, product-stiff hair. her right arm connected with my ribs. i held my hand up to cover my face just in time.

maybe that was the moment. i can't remember exactly. she spun me to face her. "EXCUSE ME. EXCUSE. ME. WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?"

i tried to speak calmly, while still loud enough for her to hear me over the music. "no problem! i have no problem with you. i'm just watching the show!"

"WHAT'S WITH YOU THEN? IF THERE'S NO PROBLEM? YOU'RE PUSHING ME! STOP TOUCHING ME! STOP IT!"

bethany was watching. my new couple friends were watching. everyone was watching. everyone looked bewildered. i attempted to defuse the situation: "i'm really sorry, i'm just trying to keep from getting hit. you can totally dance. i just don't want to get hit in the face."

"YOU'RE OUT ON A FRIDAY NIGHT AND YOU EXPECT EVERYONE TO JUST STAND AROUND LIKE YOU? YOU EXPECT ME NOT TO DANCE? YOU JUST COME STAND RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME AND GET ALL UP IN MY FACE AND PUSH ME AROUND?"

i was confused now. had we switched bodies?

she was heated. "LET'S GO OUTSIDE, LITTLE GIRL. LET'S DO THIS. YOU WANT ME TO TAKE YOU OUTSIDE AND MESS YOU UP? WE'LL HAVE A LITTLE 'CHAT'."

i couldn't help what happened next.

it was pure reaction, zero thought. zero control. and if you know me in real life, you can probably picture it, too.

the whole thing was ridiculous, but the thought of 'stepping outside' to fight this girl, the realization that she fully expected me to push her or hit her or whatever it is people actually do in fights hit me square in the funny bone with such force and precision that i threw my head back and laughed at the top of my lungs. as though she'd told me a joke. unfortunately, i was the only one who got it.

now she was confused. her face contorted. "ARE YOU SERIOUSLY LAUGHING AT ME RIGHT NOW? ARE YOU FOR REAL? I WILL TAKE YOU OUTSIDE AND MESS YOU UP!" she turned to bethany. "IS SHE ACTUALLY LAUGHING AT ME RIGHT NOW?"

i have one of those laughs that you can't really mistake for anything other than laughter. not even bethany could save me now. i understood my mistake, but i couldn't stop. maybe it was half hilarity, half nerves. i was shaking and laughing and shaking with laughter and i couldn't stop.

and all i could think was, i'm going to get hit right in the face right now. which is hilarious. and fantastic. i hoped the band would see. they would probably tell the story at their next venue.

the girl moved toward me. i braced myself, still giggling horribly. still shaking. i looked away, noticed that they were playing my favourite song.

"singing songs about the ocean...."

she lunged at me.

"...and every night's a lullaby..."

her...arm was...around my neck. i stiffened and stopped laughing.

"...the coastal breeze, and the salty seas..."

i tried to make eye contact with the bass player. help! dave! i felt silly for knowing his name.

"...i've never felt so far from home..."

i became aware that i was not being strangled, or punched, or beat up at all in any way. the arm was still around my shoulder though, and suddenly i felt her lips on my ear.

"chicky," she began.

chicky?

"chicky. you need to loosen up. you're so uptight. why are you so uptight like that?"

she squeezed my shoulder, pulled away slightly, looked me in the face. her armpit was too close to my mouth now. i held my breath. i would rather be punched in the face with a fist full of rings than assaulted by armpit smell.

"dance, chicky," she said. she turned to bethany. "YOUR FRIEND IS REAL UPTIGHT!" she shouted. "WHY IS SHE SO UPTIGHT LIKE THIS?"

because you smell like a men's change room, and some of my hair is stuck to the sweat on your shoulder.

back to my ear. "you need to learn how to dance. like me."

she smiled at me and let me go.

she left then. before i could get her number or thank her for her good advice.

i know this is getting long, but i just have one thing left to say.

our friendship was rocky. we didn't always get along, and we had our differences. she didn't share my sense of humour, i didn't share her love for dance. we didn't even know each others' names. but i feel like our true strength lay in our ability to be real with each other. i smelled her at her strongest, she held me even when i resisted her. it's stuff like that. the little things. the big things. the confusing times. the beautiful times.

"...jolene, jolene, jolene, jolene. but it ain't nothing but her favourite country song..."

18 comments:

  1. Some people's children...honestly annoying.

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  2. OH.MY.GOODNESS!!!! I can totally picture this happening! You have a knack for getting into these types of situations, chicky :)

    -Crystal

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  3. hahaha, I like that this girl wasn't actually sure what she was going to do to you...so she thought a good shoulder squeeze would suffice.

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  4. This story is INSANE!!! Seriously! So glad it ended well!!! Craziness. :D

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  5. That is so random and so weird . . . reading it I had the temptation of hunting her down and punching her for giving you trouble for minding your own business. She was probably jealous of your beauty. But with all of that aside, you handled the situation gracefully - probably much better than I would have.

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  6. People are crazy. I hate those kind of girls, I've had some similar encounters too, the kind that are "I'm dancing, so watch out." And I usually move away and ignore their faces.
    They hate that the most :)

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  7. HAHAHAHAHA this story was TOTALLY INSANE, Suzy, but I totally don't doubt that it happened to you because you're interesting and shit, and interesting things happen to interesting people. TOTALLY SOUNDING CREEPY BUT WHATEVS.

    Sorry that this chick was so crazy, the way you described her dancing reminded me of Elaine Benice from "Seinfeld": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k23ynqcwiuk

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  8. thoroughly enjoyed reading this

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  9. Oh. My. Goodness. Are you completely in earnest? This happened???

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  10. I actually can't cope! This was surreal! I'm pretty sure you are the very definition of a lovely soul. I wouldn't be able to be so positive about this experience (although I would have laughed as well but only becuase I laugh in uncomfortable situations).

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  11. Jeez, what is WRONG with some people?! So glad you came out of it okay. x

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  12. I would've ended up in a fight. Because no.

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  13. HAHA! I totally thought of Elaine as well, Caitlin!

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  14. People are CRAZY. I was mortified thinking you were going to get punched or something, I'm so glad you didn't! Why are people so ridiculous sometimes?!

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  15. This is so weird! I laughed, but that had to have been... weird.

    People at concerts are insane. The last concert I was at, people were throwing up because they were high and then drank too much beer... the guy NEXT TO ME had to go to the bathroom, so he urinated in his beer cup.. which he proceeded to carry above his head in beat to the music. I'm pretty sure I got rained on.

    All in the name of live music! haha

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  16. Okay, this started out as funny and then turned scary, and the whole time I was thinking what must Barclay have thought when you told him? He would have totally annhilated her if he was there! I'm so sorry!
    P.S. When have you ever played hockey?

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  17. jen! you forget i grew up in a wee village in saskatchewan! of course i've played hockey!

    liz: that is the worst EVER. that beats all concert stories. GROSS GROSS GROSS.

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