It’s been quite some time since I’ve experienced such blatant fat shaming.
Today I had a coffee with a friend. We had a lovely visit. I’ve been feeling relatively optimistic lately. This feeling is not very familiar. It’s really nice.
I was heading home, driving north on Port Washington Road. I came to where the road goes from two lanes to one. Being slightly ahead of the car next to me, I sped up a little to try to merge in front of the vehicle next to me. Suddenly the other car sped up and raced to get in front of me. Masculine competitiveness I guess, whatever. That’s when I noticed the driver’s window go down, he made some sort of gesture (kind of like what you do when you’re showing someone that something is really small, holding your thumb and pointer finger a wee distance apart), anyway, after that the window went back up.
I will admit, I have a bit of a temper, but what could I do at this point, he was quite a distance ahead of me. Besides, I’ve been working on ‘letting things go.’ So, I continued north in (relatively) calm manner. But, I thought to myself, if he got stuck at the stop light, I would give him a stern look. Grrrrrr.
He didn’t get stuck at the stop light. So instead, as I turned onto my street, I flipped him off. Yes, that’s the kind of girl I am. It made me feel better, even though I knew he couldn’t see it. He was too far away.
He turned into the deserted gas station on the corner. I took the opportunity to flip him off again, realizing he still couldn’t see me. It was overcast. I couldn’t see through his windows so I was fairly certain he couldn’t see through mine.
But then he crossed through the parking lot of that deserted gas station and drove onto the street I had just turned onto. He was about 25 feet behind me. I turned right. He made the same turn. I turned left and he followed suit. At this point I was in front of my house. I wasn’t sure what to do. I hit the button to open my garage door. My first instinct had been to drive into the garage, close the door, and call the police. But, I thought, that was stupid now. I’ve just shown the guy where I live.
So what did I do? I parked my car right in the middle of the street, right in front of my house, got out and walked toward his car. Now before you say – oh my god, you are an idiot – I know. I listen to the My Favorite Murder podcast. But honestly, I have never been in a situation like this before. At least not that I can recall (brain fog.) In the future, when people tell you that they do stupid things because they were in a stressful or dangerous or scary situation, you need to believe them. Because the fact is, you do NOT think clearly.
I walked up to his window and asked, “why are you following me?”
His response? “I’m not following you, get your fat ass back in your car, you’re blocking the road.”
My response, “Excuse me?”
His response, “Have you looked in a mirror lately? Now get back in your car, it probably won’t even support you.”
He also told me to go put “more color” in my hair. I have pink and teal highlights in my hair. I started this a few years ago after I finally let my hair go completely white. I was tired of paying to color it every four weeks. My all white hair really washed out my face and made me feel super old. So one October I got pink highlights for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I received so many compliments and loved it so much I kept it year round. Eventually I (or more accurately Rob) added the teal and even a tiny touch of darker blue. A few people have said my hair reminds them of cotton candy! I’ve had adult men, HUGE adult men, walk up to me and say, “I really love your hair.” Men, women, children – so many people, total strangers, have walked up and said, “I love your hair!” It makes me feel awesome, it makes them smile, and the interaction between us – well, these are all GOOD things. And here is this guy, giving me crap about it. I know it’s because of his own insecurities that he is desperately looking for things about me that he can taunt me about. I know that. Doesn’t make it any easier.
Unfortunately I lowered myself to his level at one point by telling him that he should take a look in a mirror himself. I couldn’t see his entire body because he didn’t get out of his truck, but I could tell he had some heft. But he didn’t deserve that any more than I did. Shame on me. I may have been hurting and it may have been a defense mechanism but that’s no excuse.
This is what he claimed – even though he had Colorado license plates supposedly he lived in my neighborhood. But when I asked him where he lived he said he didn’t need to tell me, “you’re not the police.” Also, he was saying that the reason he drove past his turn (supposedly) was to “let you (me) go first.” Which of course doesn’t make any sense because he didn’t where I was going and why in the world do I have to go first? Who let’s a total stranger “go first” on the road when you are four of five car lengths ahead of them?
I took down his license plate number. I’m tempted to include it here, but for now I won’t.
Unfortunately I had forgotten to take my phone with me today. I think I have forgotten my phone TWICE in the past ten years and this would have been the second time. Once I was through with his hatefulness I went into the house and called the police.
I spoke with my favorite officer. She is excellent, took down all my information and all the details. She found one guy she thought might be this jerk and had already checked him out. It wasn’t him, but she’s on it.
She did tell me one thing though – she said DON’T EVER DO THAT AGAIN! I know, I know. She said, if anything like this ever happens again (and hopefully it won’t) what you need to do is drive straight to the police station. It seems so obvious when she says it. DUH!
(Thanks Officer Wiesmueller, you rock!)
The thing is, I thought that I was too old to be fat shamed anymore. I thought I had “outgrown” it. In my adult life I think I’ve experienced it maybe four or five times and the last blatant incident was maybe 30 years ago. There have been a couple other times where people were talking about me and didn’t realize I could hear them (or didn’t care) but they weren’t talking TO me. Still, I thought I was safe because I’m old enough to be most people’s grandmother. Silly me.
Note: My post about the James Corden response to the Bill Maher ‘Fat Shaming’ clip is almost finished. I will be posting that hopefully tomorrow but I wanted to get this post published today.