302.3 Social Interaction Within Groups

I said I would tell you all another bully story, and as you’ve been very patient while I futzed around and did other stuff, I’ll try to make this one extra good.

One day I was out riding my bike like a nice little dork when I came to the intersection at one end of my block. I heard something smack against the asphalt as I pedaled along, so I stopped to see what it was. I looked down and saw that a rotten apple, brown and semi-liquid, had exploded on impact a few feet away. Before I even had time to formulate in my mind the question, “Now, where in the heck did that come from?”, another apple struck the macadam not far from where the first one had landed. And another. And another. Not a shower of apples, mind you—no more than a half a dozen or so. Out of nowhere. Like mortar fire, launched by an unseen, unheard and unknown aggressor. Just enough to creep me out, to make me feel uncomfortable and unsafe. The message was clear: “Go back home to momma, you little sissy. These are our streets, not yours.”

To this day, I have no idea who lobbed those spoiled fruits at me, though I could make a short list of the usual suspects, like any good detective. I suppose I ought to thank them for helping prepare me for all the strange little moments that would follow. That incident didn’t prepare for everything, but it made some of life’s little weird episodes a little easier to take.

Like the time I pulled up to an office in downtown D.C. to deliver a package, and standing before me on the street was a man standing stock still, practically catatonic, with a spring sticking out of one ear, his hands outstretched, his eyes staring at nothing. Or the time I was waiting outside a music studio in another part of D.C., talking with a friend, when a car came screeching around the corner and plowed into the car in front of mine. Things like that. After the apple incident, they didn’t have quite the same effect on me. So some might say I owe those apple-snipers a debt of gratitude.

Indeed, some might say that. But I am not going to thank them. Not today. Not ever.