Just the other day I was in the coffee shop and I went to use the bathroom and the bigger stall had the door open but the toilet there was all fucked up and the smaller stall had the door closed so without thinking about it I adjusted my line of sight so I could see, through the slivery crack on the side of the door, whether someone was in the stall.
"There's someone in here," she yelled.
"Oh, sorry," I said.
"You should be!" she practically spat back. Whoa. OK, maybe it's creepy to be checking the slivery crack. And the crack in that particular bathroom *is* unusually large for the side of a stall door. I didn't mean anything; I just wasn't thinking.
"Sorry," I repeated in a tone I hoped conveyed both "I am sorry" and "you are totally overreacting." "I was just checking if there was anyone there." I stood there; eventually she came out and we looked away from one another and I went into the stall and that was over.
So here's the confession: it made me cry. Yes, I peed, and then I washed my hands, and then I left the coffeeshop -- I hadn't even had my coffee! And I walked around the block with my suglasses on and I cried and cried.
OK. Maybe I was overtired to start with, on edge. I have been, a little. But it's also true that I am not used to being spoken to in anger. Really not used to it. And it fucking freaked me. I was so mad and ashamed at the same time, and also just felt taken down a peg in a way that felt horrible.
I remember thinking, Oh, yeah, no wonder they had duels. That way the emotions could get built up, channeled, and then transformed into something else -- like the feeling of mourning or cheating death or whatever.
And then I was thinking, "I am a wuss." Which I always have been. I mean I'm tough as nails when it comes to being persistent and doing what I want to do and whatever but I'm 100 percent wuss when someone is mean to me.
But I also got to thinking that there's more of this than there used to be, and that the young people are more. . . I don't want to say "used to it," because I think they take it hard, too, in the end. . . but more, you know, expecting it.
I guess if you have a Facebook page or a MySpace page or you put your stuff up online you expect to get a certain kind of really nasty critical response. Certainly all the forums I encounter online with anonymous comments there's a ton of this shit unless it is moderated out.
So maybe that makes it seem more normal. Maybe, too, they are hardened a little by all the hyper-competition that every thing has become. I don't know. I just know that young people are slightly making me nervous these days. They have the aggression skills, and they're not afraid to use them.
I, on the other hand, am a wuss.
But, you know, older people have always been frightened by the young. So maybe the moral of this story is just the same as that of my previous post on being a dinosaur: You, Noko Marie, are getting old.