“Do you have a cell phone?” asked a man of a young couple today on the Long Beach boardwalk.
He was at least 6′ 3″, in his mid forties, had white bandages on two fingers and asked this couple for their cell phone in a very aggressive tone.
They ignored him so he turned to me because I was the next closest person walking by.
He looked similar to those guys you see getting arrested on Cops who are jacked up on angel dust. Layers of disconnected rage, through and through.
From about four feet way, he asked me with a stern voice, “Do you have a cell phone?”
There was evil in his eyes.
I stopped and stared back, silently. He stopped advancing.
Turning up the pressure he said, “I know you have a cell phone.”
“I do,” I calmly relied.
“Can I use it?” he asked assertively.
“I don’t think so,” I answered.
Pointing at me, he yelled, “Well, FUCK YOU!”
I took a conscious breath and asked, “You sure about that?”
He understood quite clearly that I was inviting him to take it up a notch, if he dared.
99% of the time, this is where most “men” fold their cards – regardless of how they were initially posturing with me. But this guy was fearless and full of rage.
He put his head down and stepped towards me like a bull.
I stepped my right foot back and positioned myself in case I had to get medieval on him.
I loudly said, “Don’t even fucking think about it.”
Which, thankfully, made him think about it. He ceased moving forward.
I started waking backwards, away from him.
I said, “You know what man, I’m going to use my cell phone to call 911.”
Which I did.
The police told me they were already on their way due to previous calls from other good citizens.
He quickly hightailed it off in the opposite direction.
After incidents like this, and there’s been more than a few, I’d call my dad.
He’d always say something like, “Wow. I’m glad you’re okay.”
And I’d always answer with something like, “C’mon, you know if something really happened, I’d be the one left standing.”
To which he would always say, “Just make sure you don’t go back the same way. And stay aware.”
Moments before this all went down by the way, I was feeling so grateful for the melting snow and the fifty degree weather. I was actually feeling so grateful, to be honest, just to be me.
And now I sit here typing to you (yes you, the person reading these words now) and I’m so grateful my dad taught me when to stand my ground, when to leave and most of all, when to be aware.
Because the universe can be very subtle in its beauty and very direct with its sudden surprises – and you don’t want to miss either.
Today would have been my parent’s 45th anniversary. It’s the first one my mom is alone for.
“In Live Like a Fruit Fly, Gabe Berman shares his recipe for living a more joyful, worthwhile, and abundant life in every way. A witty, entertaining, and insightful read.” — Deepak Chopra, Author, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success