Friday, April 11, 2008

"You Are Ashamed Of Me!"

When I first saw this man, I thought what an amusing entry he would make on my journal.

Standing on the ferry, he spoke far to loudly into his phone, his one-sided argument spilling over into the crowd around him, as he leaned against the outside hull, a paper bag in one hand, the other holding that phone to his ear, and his voice... strident, sliding from strident to coaxing as he paced back and forth along the wall.

"You are my everything. My whole family knows about you and NO ONE IN YOUR FAMILY KNOWS ABOUT ME!! You have me in a closet. You are ASHAMED OF ME!!"

He went on and on, lacing the sentences with a variety of expletives. I stood by the door going out to the deck with a young woman...we exchanged glances and giggles. As the boat docked, he announced to his unknown to us love he would call them back, and my newly bonded friend and I strained to see who this voice belonged to, betting each other he would end up with the other one on the journey home.

There he was, pushing past everyone, anger personified. Tattoos covered his neck and arms, his pants in the low riding position favoured by younger men, dark jacket... his face looked like a blurred Michael J. Pollard, overlaid with bitterness.

We all moved from the boat, rushing to our connecting points, and...he stepped down the stairs to my train. My new found friend pointed at me and laughed.

I walked as quickly as possible to pass him and get into a car... he chose the same car.

Stray dogs and sad people tend to follow me.

Once settled, he flipped open the phone again, dialing the number, and picking up the conversation where he'd left off--again in that loud voice, the full vocabulary of expletives, only now...I could hear the pleading tone underlying it all.

He asked her to move from where ever she was so she could talk to him... If she couldn't hear him, just give him a few minutes, move to another room. Didn't he mean anything to her? Remember that night they went out in the City and had such a great time? He loved her, didn't that mean anything? Why did she hide him away from people, was she ashamed of him? He knew he didn't deserve her, but, he'd do whatever he could to make her feel proud.

The battery in his phone was dying, he said... he'd call her again from his house. "Why not? Are you dumping me? But...."

Everyone around was focused on newspapers, the night outside the windows, the floor. All while we listened to his life fall apart in such a public place.

My stop was called, I stood up opposite him, as he opened the bottle in the paper bag and started to drink from it... I didn't know where to look.

Days later, writing about this as amusing--his mannerisms, the wild phone call, the drinking from the paper bag--is eclipsed by the memory of his face, as he understood he wasn't good enough.

Empathy will change your perspective on how you decide to write a story.





Our Neville Fact:

This weekend, due to the high demand* for Neville and Margaret information, there will be an entire post to catch you up.


*okay, one person...still.


12 comments:

Peter Varvel said...

Omg, and that's exactly why I want to write, in order to convey empathy (as well as to put the blinders on, bury my head, hide inside my plastic bubble, admirable as it may NOT be . . . )
Unfortunately, ya gotta suffer through and survive a lot of shite in order to be able to empathize, no?

Prince Gomolvilas said...

Great post. I wanted to give him a hug...from a distance.

plain jane said...

Ooh, that makes me kind of sad.

twentysomethingandclueless said...

:( That poor guy, I could practically hear the desperation in his voice, trying to make someone love him the way he loves her...

sigh. I hope he learns that he deserves better than that soon.

Michael Manning said...

Quin: Now I understand why loneliness is such an epidemic in this country. As Montel Williams said in a haunting promo for his show years ago, "We've lost respect for one another and our elders. We've forgotten how to love one another". He was right! I hope this man finds his self worth!! Thanks for sharing!!!

austere said...

how horrible for him.
I can see his face from your words.

golfwidow said...

The second the words "you are ashamed of me" came from his mouth, his side of the exchange stopped being funny to me.

Writeprocrastinator said...

"This weekend, due to the high demand* for Neville and Margaret information, there will be an entire post to catch you up."

Huzzah! Huzzah!

"Stray dogs and sad people tend to follow me."

I am profoundly jealous of that line. What takes me three sentences to say, you say it in one and I'll bet that you crank these out in your sleep.

constant drama said...

This post made me so sad. Its sad when the one you love do not love you back.. The heartache......

The poor guy..

Quin Browne said...

yeah, when i first saw him, i was totally going to write this in a humourous way... his badger like stance, the outlandish tattoos, his completely absorbed conversation--immune to the fact people were actively listening.

then, the rest of it struck me, saddened me... and, i knew i, too, have felt this way of "why aren't i good enough?"

he hurt my heart.

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Anonymous said...

Good day : )
Why do women and men (society in general) still pre-judge people with tats. women especially?
I'm a 26 year old F, have got 9 tats, lots of which cannot be noticed on my day to day travels. 5 - 6 in the summer are pretty much constantly on display. I don't struggle for attention and I have a loving boyfriend WITH NO TATTOOS .I get the impression that numerous people think that tattooed people are blind, as we get stared at, even if we return a glance people continue looking. When will society change?