The below has very little “political” in it, other then since the election, with no common enemy and too much time on our hands, “we’ve” spent a lot of time yelling at each other, which brought to mind…
So, it’s like 2 years ago and I’m driving my car, which at the time was an Audi TT convertible, around the neighborhood, with the top down.
I get to a 4-way stop, at what I perceive is an instant BEFORE another car, which is headed down the perpendicular-street. Well, clearly, the driver of the other car thought HE was first, because he decides to cross at the exact same time I choose to take a left turn and the result is a near collision.
He honks. I honk and yell something obscene. The other driver FLIPS OUT, screaming out his window. Then I jam on my breaks, daring him to run into my back bumper and he… to my shock and amazement… flings open his door, steps out of his car, and STARTS CHARGING TOWARD ME.
Now, a few thoughts run through my head… “Wow, this escalated quickly”… “I think I’m bigger then this asshole”… and then: “Oh, fucking shitballs… it’s GREG!”
Greg* was someone I only vaguely knew as another father in the neighborhood and a parent at my daughter’s preschool, but I really liked him right up until he became the dude RANTING OBSCENITIES and MAKING A FULL-ON ASSAULT on my car.
(*It turns out that Greg was, and is, comic Greg Fitzsimmons who does a regular gig on the Howard Stern show and he apparently has also told THIS story there a couple of times so I feel safe continuing.)
So, Greg is charging and my mind is reeling and then I do what a guy like me does in those moments… I TOTALLY PANIC… hitting the accelerator and driving away.
The next week is awful as I wait… in terror… to run into Greg… walking the do… or in the New School West parking lot, but when I finally end up next to him at a fundraiser, he’s kind and charming as ever.
We crack jokes… we talk about the kids… nothing could be less stressful.
And this happens, like, 4 other times over the next 6 months, until I’m starting to doubt whether or not it was really HIM going all “the storming of Normandy Beach” on me.
Eventually his daughter Josephine’s birthday (come on, we both have Josephines) comes round and we, as a family, get invited and I can no longer hide my shame.
So, I confess that I was the dude who almost collided with him a half-year earlier, at which point… Greg hugs me… telling me he never knew, but that I was, unwittingly, the reason he was back in therapy.
Apparently he told his wife what happened and she, understandably, chewed him out for having gone after another driver with his son in the car.
What if I were NOT a friend? What if I’d have had a gun. What if something terrible had happened and poor Owen would’ve been trapped, strapped into his car seat?
(And of course, the same all holds true to MY actions, especially considering that now, given what I know about Greg’s Irish, drinking, pugilist background… he would’ve fucking kicked my ass.)
The point is… if there even is one… that interactions on the internet are a lot like two cars arriving at an intersection simultaneously.
There’s a great chance that both parties will be sure THEY have the “right of way”… fuses run short and tempers incredibly hot… and its more than likely the individual in the other vehicle (in this case a screen name) is REALLY a friend whose face is hidden by the rear-view mirror.
Do what all that what you will and…