The BMW was sleek, white, and snappy, and it was nose to butt with my car like a greyhound sniffing a portly black lab. There was about a half inch of space between the two, and there appeared to be paint-bare patches on my bumper. Rats.
Leaving Dave under a streetlamp at the curb with the cars, I returned to the warmth and light of the pub where we’d just had dinner to ask our friend Aaron, the bartender, to see if one of the patrons owned the BMW. At his announcement, a slender woman, age thirty or so, raised her hand.
I approached her and said, “Your car is parked right behind mine, and I think you scratched my bumper.” In my mental re-enactment, my demeanor was sheepish, maybe even apologetic.
With her pale face set in indignation beneath a mane of flowing white-blond hair, she rose from her stool, adjusted her short, tight skirt, and teetered behind me on shimmery scarlet pumps with four-inch heels. Sputtering at her side was her similarly attired friend, an exotic, statuesque brunette. “Seriously?” the brunette fumed, “We literally walked in ten minutes ago.”
With arms flailing as if to dismiss me, a fly most annoying, the blond spewed denials as we walked past dark storefronts down the city sidewalk to Dave and the cars. “My car, it was very expensive and has cameras and sensors everywhere. I did not hit your car. Impossible.” When she spotted my cozy C-Max, she erupted. “My car did not hit your piece-of-shit car.” Ouch.
Having moved the C-Max forward, Dave crouched between the two vehicles so he could inspect the front bumper of the BMW.
While I could not place the women’s accents, they raged with an abundance of Mediterranean passion as their fury mounted. The brunette stood square before me, the nail of her raised middle finger as fiery red as her painted lips. “You f*@*ing bitch,” she said, drawing out the vowel to a scornful beetch and nailing the “f” hard through white teeth and lower lip, the “ing” resonating in the back of her throat. “You totally ruined our night. It’s my friend’s birthday, you beetch. We literally just sat down.”
And I, literally, just spoke to them. How could they be so angry so quickly?
“Relax, ladies, relax,” Dave said. “Maybe it wasn’t your car,” for the hood of the BMW was pristine. Not a mark. But in this brief span of minutes, the ladies were past hearing, way past relaxing.
“You ugly, old, f*@*ing beetch,” Blondie screeched, giving me a close-up look at the exquisite quality of the manicure on her middle finger. Her voice menacing, she warned, “I am calling my husband! You have no idea who we are. He is going to kill you.”
I hoped this was hyperbole, but given her ire, I wasn’t sure. I pitied the husband at the end of the line as she screamed into the phone. “These two f*@*ing, ugly, old people say I hit their piece-of-shit car, which I did not!” The poor man heard this score in a thundering, repetitious tirade that rose in volume accompanied by a spontaneous choreography of waving arms and tossing hair. No doubt, he was familiar with it.
“It wasn’t your car!” Dave repeated as she stabbed her phone to end the call.
“I want you dead,” she yelled, “But the baby’s sleeping, and my husband can’t come.”
Dave and I shared a quick look. Omigod. This woman had a child. That poor baby. Where did this anger come from? What had happened in these women’s lives to build this repertoire of invective? How can that baby thrive in an unpredictable environment where a minor annoyance triggers such rage?
“Please. Get out of the road," I entreated. “You’re gonna get hit.”
“Don’t talk to me, you f*@*ing, ugly, old beetch,” she snarled.
Despite my blessed lack of exposure to anything like this before, ever, I was oddly impervious to their insults. They bounced off like arrows stopped by a force field, and I just wanted it to end. But the ladies, apparently, did not.
Finally Dave succeeded in penetrating Blondie’s wrath-induced deafness and she stood triumphant before her car. “You see? You see! Not a mark! I did not hit your piece-of-shit car! Call the police! You ruined my birthday for nothing, you f*@*ing…….”
Wearily, I chimed in on the chorus, “ugly, old beetch… I know… but your birthday doesn’t have to be ruined. Go finish your drinks…”
So. Whoever tapped my car was gone, leaving the space open for the BMW. Had they wished, the ladies could have fixed us with baleful looks and flounced back inside with as much flourish and sass as those tippy heels would allow. But their wrath was whirling around us and could not be restrained. Against their cutting cacophony, as he has with countless angry children at school, Dave kept saying calmly and quietly, “Tell me when you’re ready to listen. Just tell me when you’re ready to listen...”
Unlike those children, however, the ladies were not.
The brunette was in my face, her middle finger erect, teeth bared. Too easily, I could imagine those red nails raking across my cheek, so I stepped back as she snapped, “Apologize, you beetch! You interrupted us! Literally, we had just sat down!”
Yes. Yes. Literally. I know.
She glared into my eyes and bit off her words, “F*@*ing beetch! You were so mean, so nasty…”
Wait, what? I was mean? We had entered an alternate universe in which venom was ample and words were limited, the same ones circling round and round, and I just wanted to go home. But I also needed confirmation and a reality check.
Somehow, I slipped away and scampered down the sidewalk and into the pub, abandoning poor Dave to the harridans. I knew the men who were sitting at the bar next to the two glasses and empty stools vacated by the ladies. I said, “Just checking guys. Did you see me tell those women about the scratches on my car? Was I nasty?”
They looked at me like I was crazy and said yes, they’d seen the exchange, and no, I wasn’t nasty. Aaron, the bartender asked, “Are they still railing on out there?”
“Oh yeah. It’s bad. The blond called her husband so he would come kill us, but he’s too busy babysitting.”
Aaron rolled his eyes and said, “Sorry this is happening to you. Bridgeport can be crazy. I’m calling the police.”
When I returned to my beleaguered husband, he was telling the women that since there was no problem with the car, they could return to the bar to enjoy each other’s delightful company and their drinks. The blond was shrieking at him while the brunette tried to convince her that Dave was handsome and nice; it was the f*@*ing beetch that was the problem. Blondie was of the mind that his choice of vile girlfriend tainted him as well.
“She’s my wife, actually,” he said with a fond smile, perhaps hoping to raise me in their esteem. “My wife of 42 years.”
“Whatever. Beetch…” sneered Blondie. The good news is, words lose meaning when endlessly repeated.
“Look,” I said. “Your drinks are still on the bar. Go in and enjoy them.”
The brunette cocked her head and wagged her index finger in my face, giving her middle finger a brief rest. “No! You ruined it! We literally walked in….”
Good God! Again? “Yes, I know. Literally. Ten minutes before I interrupted you.” She did not think me clever in joining her chorus and launched into such a litany of foul language and abuse that Dave whipped out his phone to record it. Blondie flew at him and shoved him against a pathetic sapling struggling to survive in its bed of asphalt. Dave’s cell tumbled, and Blondie’s sequined purse sailed to the sidewalk. “You can’t record her without permission!” she howled. “She’s a model!” Dave, a paragon of patience, spun around, finally pushed too far. Was he going to throttle her? I stepped in front of him, unsure, and he backed away.
Relieved to have even a hint of respite from the head-on hatred, I turned and bent to retrieve Dave’s phone, happily intact, as well as Blondie’s purse. When I moved to hand it to her, she snatched it back and snapped, “Beetch! Don’t touch me!”
Sigh. I’d had enough. “Dave? Honey? Give it up. I’m gonna sit on the curb. Come with me.”
“Your girlfriend?” said Blondie. “She’s a beetch….”
“My wife of 42 years,” again Dave tried. “Well, almost 42 years. Our anniversary’s in June. The 14th.”
“Whatever, she is such a….”
F*@*ing bitch. I know. Ugly and old too. Tired as well. Omigod… let this stop.
I will belabor here no more, although they did. It went on and on until a man I had just met in the pub – a blessed soul – emerged to entice the ladies back inside. At his intervention, their anger melted miraculously to damsels-in-distress tears. As the man took the brunette’s arm to guide her back to the bar, she whimpered, “We are so upset. That beetch was so nasty. She ruined my friend’s birthday! We had literally walked in ten minutes before…. “
Deep breath. Lengthy exhalation.
After they departed, Dave and I retreated with relief to the refuge of my much-maligned C-Max and slumped into our seats to wait for the police. “If they’d been men, I would’ve smacked ‘em,” he said. We looked at each other and shook our heads, so grateful that their burden of anger was not part of our lives.