Friday, March 19, 2010

I cursed a stranger, and then...

It is not uncommon to witness unkind gestures or insults directed toward strangers. It doesn't take a sleuth to see daily incidents of road rage, restaurant incivility, or snarky censuring. To those who are guilty of such an offense (and I submit that all of us are), have you ever considered the possibility of meeting that person again?

Last night I went to the Vampire Weekend concert in SLC. The performance was great and the energy was high. The venue was packed with happy concert-goers from all walks of life. There were the prepubescent high school kids, the drunken adults, the poverty-stricken college kids that spent their week's food money on admission, the cautious parents escorting their underage children, and so on. Now, I'll be the first to admit that when a band I like starts to play, I don't hold back. I'm a terrible dancer, but I dance like I know what I'm doing and I try to spread the bug. My guilt lies in bumping into people that don't want anything to do with it.

So there I am, dancing and singing and having a good time, when a tall white man taps me on the shoulder. "Are you gay?!" he spits out vehemently, his eyes bearing down on me from his great height. A little taken back, I reply, "No, are you?" Either purposely or for not having heard me, he ignores my question and says, "then STOP THAT." Probably I bumped into him on accident while moving to the music. I couldn't have been the only one, however, because later I looked back and saw him there, standing like a stiff lighthouse in a kinetic sea of bodies. I would have felt more sorry if I hadn't been one of hundreds of dancing fools. It was a general admission concert after all, and we were fairly close to the stage.

Fast forward one day. I'm at the career fair at school looking for possible marketing internships. Amidst all the colorful business shirts and suits I see a tall white man in a black t-shirt. I couldn't believe it! It was the man from the night before! A dozen possible scenarios ran through my head. I could waltz on up to him and say something like, "Hey... fancy seeing you here!" Or, "Hey! Vampire Weekend! Yeah!"

That dark little spot deep inside wanted to confront him so badly. I wanted to embarrass him the same way he tried to embarrass me. I wanted him to feel like an idiot for the sake of my own amusement and the amusement of my friends. I wanted to... but I couldn't. The truth was, I didn't really want to offend anyone. Yeah, it was the perfect opportunity, but if I had, what would that say about my own character? In the end, I didn't have the courage or desire to act the way my devil wanted to. I left the career fair with hypothetical memories and a clear conscience.

But man, that would have been so perfect. Poetic justice. Something right out of a Hollywood script.

I recognize the possibility (albeit remote) that that same man find this blog and read what I've said about him. To him I say, "I like your taste in music." Maybe next time my dancing will be better and you won't think to question my sexual preference based on what you see. Maybe you will also dance next time and you'll understand that straight men can dance too. Maybe next time someone is offended, we can be a little more kind.


Patrick said...

the "are you gay? no? then stop that" mentality is not only insulting, but horrifying. what a world.

Mike W. said...

:( at least it wasn't the majority.