Crying Over Chipped Paint

Read the following to the tune of “What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes if you’re so inclined

It was an 84-degree, sunshiny Sunday. I’d woken up early to do some early outdoor yoga with Jordan. That afternoon was European Fest at the German Club in Brimfield. All signs pointed toward a Great Day.

Nick and I danced/drove our way out to the Club. We parked in the grass, and I lightly opened the door of my silver Dodge Neon while fumbling for my purse in the backseat.

I didn’t hear the knock of my door against the silver Ford SUV parked next to us.

It was only when I got out of the car and noticed a man sitting in the SUV glaring through a 2 inch crack in the window that I realized what I’d done.

Immediately, I apologized. “Oh! I’m so sorry!” I sincerely told the glaring man through the crack. When I got no reply from him, I closed the door and walked down toward the club, embarrassed, but glad the encounter was over.

Or so I thought.

Nick missed the whole exchange, sitting in the driver’s seat and putting his shoes on. He looked at me quizzically and motioned for me to come back so he could lock the car. I made my way back, a little shaky, but sure that the man in the car next to us had gone on his way.

I was wrong.

I reached my car and saw the bulky 50-something man talking to Nick. “Is she gonna pay for that?”he asked Nick.

The first thing the man said to me when I got to the car?

“Why’d you run away?”

My heart dropped. Tears sprang to my eyes.

“I told you I was sorry. You didn’t respond. I thought it was over.”

“Stop crying, why are you crying?” he laughs in my face, having the opposite effect of his request.

The man continued on his egotistical rampage, berating me for crying and telling me I “BASHED” his car in, when in reality the scratch was the size of my pinkie toenail. “Bashed? Really?” Nick inquired, leading the man to say, “Well…” and shake his head.

I asked him repeatedly, “What do you want from me?” and each time he just stared at me, chuckled a bit, and rolled his eyes.

“Get out your checkbook,” Nick told me. “Write him a check for $50. I’ve fixed scratches before. That’s how much it costs.”

“I don’t want your money. Stop crying.” my aggressor continued.

After three repetitions of that cycle, it was clear all the man wanted from me was public humiliation. I was livid I’d given him that.

I was just so unprepared for hostility in a place that’s been home to me since I was a baby. It’s the place all my Omas and Opas came to hang out with people from their homeland when they emigrated to America. It’s the place where I danced in the Youth Group. It’s the place where I’m related to more people than I’m not.

At that moment, though still shaking in anger, I decided I would not let that man spoil this precious place. My tendency is to dwell on stressful situations so much that I can’t enjoy myself soon after they’re over. This wouldn’t happen this time. I wouldn’t let it.

Instead, I focused on the positive. I got to see Nick stand up and speak out for me when I was too angry to speak for myself.

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I got to hang out with my little cousin Claudia and get bopped in the head with a balloon by her brother.

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I got to share a drink with my cousin Alayna.

I got free sweets from my Oma (the only “bad” thing she’s done in her life, I’m sure).

I got to watch the kindegruppe kids have a blast dancing totally out of tune.

I got to eat homemade potato salad.

I got to see a family member polka dance with an estranged relative.

I got to see that I have the resilience to bounce back and have a great time, regardless of the obstacles that get in the way.

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