A few years back, there I was on the bus back into the city from my parent’s home in New Jersey. I was in my first year at Columbia, and diving head first into amazing classes on writing and psychology, as well as a few feminist courses. I was in my finest day: I love academics. Nothing makes me happier than a huge novel to read and write about.
Call me a loser, or just someone who doesn’t get enough action?
Or maybe you’re a lit-whore like myself. Welcome to the tribe jedi.
Anywhoo, there I was, just sitting in my seat, getting ready to study on the hour and a half ride when I heard him.
I heard a male voice berating the woman next to him.
I had seen them get on the bus after me. He was whining about being late. A middle-aged man of thin stature, his wife had a round face, watery-blue eyes, and frizzy curly hair. She was pleasant-looking enough. I guessed the two were in their late forties or early fifties. She walked on after him, with her head slightly down as she tried to avoid eye contact with other passengers. His whining was rather loud.
They sat two rows right behind me, and as the bus pulled away from me, he went off.
“Thanks a lot. Thanks to you now we’re late. We’re friggin late. You’re so stupid.”
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. ”
“Why would I ever listen to you? You’re stupid! You fucked up everything!”
Now he is yelling. All the women on the bus eye each other. I give a nasty face to suggest how much I hate this guy to a few women, and they all agree with me, making similar faces.
“I don’t know why I put up with you.”
The woman is saying nothing. I briefly turn around to look at her, for whatever reason. She glances at me for a second, and then looks down. She is ready to cry.
“Really, I have just had enough of you! Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.”
He is going on and on. The bus is dead silent as we all listen to this man degrade his wife. How stupid she is. How she ruined his life, etc. When suddenly, all 5’1 and a 1/2 of me stands up and turns around to face them both.
“Enough! Enough of this garbage!”
He looks at me, but not menacingly. The women on the bus look triumphant. The wife picks her head up.
“I don’t want to hear this nonsense. You can’t abuse your wife in front of me. In front of the bus. I won’t let it happen. You’re stupid. You’re an idiot. Keep quiet! This is a damn bus ride! Enough already!”
I am shaking. I want to kill this man.
He looks at me, but says nothing. His wife has the most grateful look on her face. The women on the bus are all with me.
I can’t explain how, but I know that like me, all of the women on the bus, have been in that position.
We have been the ones shamed and yelled at. Abused. Demeaned. And as I put this man in his place, every woman looked as if she were reliving the chance to do the same, during a time when they were once that wife. I am reliving the time when I should have spoken up. Should have walked away. Should have stood up for myself.
“Good,” I say upon noting his silence. “I don’t want to hear one more word,” I state.
And for the rest of the bus ride, he says nothing. He is quiet and submissive, and hopefully feeling like shit.
Exactly the way his wife felt as he unraveled her being and heart.
No man will do that in front of me to any woman.
Rest assured, I’ve got your back ladies.
(I wouldn’t tolerate from a woman either, but I have never experienced this myself).
My mother probably got all her grey hairs from me, but I know she would have done the same.
On your side,