Let’s talk about what happens when you encounter dickheads in the wild. In my time, I’ve had a fair share of bullshit thrown at me. I’m hesitant to call it ‘bullying.’ It was more ‘low level constant bullshit.’ Is that a thing? Anyway, in my years knocking around the northside suburbs of Dublin as a fat unhappy teenage loner, I got my fair share of harassment. I think this is a right of passage for any working to middle class girl who grew up in an estate this side of the Atlantic. If you are in any way weird, you will get bullshit. Just… Little comments. Boys heckling you on the street. Girls running after you, pointing out your undeniable lady ‘stache. Low level acts of cruelty that at the time were pretty fucking devastating. The randomness is the thing that always cut me about it. The fact that these kids would waste time and thought on upsetting a teenage girl makes me just as sad as the nice comments about my writing recently have made me happy.
Now that I’m something of a grown up (i.e. I am 20, can make my own boiled egg and soldiers and masturbate, my own personal definition of womanhood) these low level acts of bullshittery are both a) uncommon and b) hilarious. The winner for best random act of bullshit was on a train back from Maynooth where a lad of about twelve looked over the seats and said the following-
Lad: ‘Hey missus! Missus, Missus, HEY MISSUS!’
Lad: [with the most earnest, honest look ever] ‘Cunt life?’
That was it. That one statement. ‘Cunt life?’ offered as a question, a statement, and an insult. I have no idea what he meant by it. Considering cunt is one of my fave words ever, I have adopted this as my personal mantra- it was nearly going to become the tagline of this Blog, in fact. It’s the kind of thoughtless crap that just makes me laugh. It’s been a very long time since someone has legitimately upset me with their dickheaded behavior.
When Dickheads strike
So I was eating in Chill the other day, as is my wont every day. Chill is a happy place for me. Amazing coffee, nice food, and an endlessly looping playlist containing smooth piano covers of popular songs of the last 2 decades. It’s painted all in neon pinks and greens. It is a happy place. I am safe there. I was eating a bowl of soup and a wrap with my coffee at 11AM, sitting alone in one of my snugglely hand knitted jumpers.
It was a good morning. It was a fine morning UNTIL the following happened-
To set the scene, let me tell you how little I know of this person. I have shared perhaps a sentence of conversation with him. Until two days ago I didn’t actually know his full name. I ‘knew him to see’ basically. I also inexplicably know that he once had sex on a tractor. That’s about it. I am not in his circle of friends. There is no ‘banter’ between us. He is, for all intents and purposes, a complete stranger. So he and his friend are passing my seat, and as they do, the following happens-
Me: *eating a chicken wrap*
Lad: *leans into my table, and roars* STOP STUFFING YOUR FACE!
I am so mortified I can only gape at him- I can’t tell him to fuck off at that precise moment because my mouth is full of chicken so he walks on guffawing and laughing with his friends, laughing at the sheer hilarity of embarrassing a complete stranger in a public place. I am fifteen again and passing by the shops in Raheny getting jeered by boys on BMXs. I am shamed and humiliated and embarrassed.
That lasts about three seconds.
Now I’m angry.
What the flying fuck just happened? I was eating my fucking lunch and a total stranger just roared in my face. The implication of his words being I was either
a) eating messily or
b) being fat
Now, in regards a), I probably was. But fuck off. I’m not miss world and I was eating alone in an empty cafe at 11AM. I do not give a fuck if I am eating neatly. As long as it’s going in my mouth and I’m not spitting on anyone I consider it a neat meal. And for b); there is absolutely nothing I can do in the immediate present about ‘being fat.’ I’ve recently lost a stone and it’s an ongoing battle, but we’re getting there. So fuck off on that too.
How to deal with Dickheads
After about five minutes of frenzied anger from facebook encouraging me, I went over to him, and tapped him on the shoulder. He took one look at me and began to giggle. A proper, 12 year old boy giggle, the sort I hadn’t heard in many years. The giggle of a complete and utter eejit. I said ‘Sorry, my mouth was full of chicken when you came and shouted at me, I just wanted to come over and tell you to retrospectively FUCK OFF and let me eat my lunch.’ He laughed and laughed and laughed. I went back to my coffee.
Anyone telling me it was ‘just a bit of banter’ is full of crap. Banter is between mates, and it’s full of familiarity and in jokes. None of my friends would have said something like ‘stop stuffing your face’ to me, even as a joke because most of them know the following-
1) I’ve recently lost weight
2) I have a history of compulsive eating
3) I am famously ‘fuck off’ at meal times
4) I am not at all ashamed of anything. EVER
So I can’t really accept anyone telling me I should shruggingly accept anyone coming all up into my day and fucking it up. This was just another lol in this lad’s laugh a minute existence, but it put a funk on my whole day. There was a nasty, needling prick to the joke at my expense. It didn’t come from a place of familiarity, or fondness, or solidarity as the best comedy does. It was a bold of stupid from the blue. I was told by someone else that ‘all he was looking for was a reaction’ and I shouldn’t have told him to fuck off, or I should have approached the manager in chill. But like… why the fuck not? Why the hell not confront someone who’s just pissed you off? We’re both allegedly adults. If he can’t face me without giggling like a hyena is not that his problem?
So for anyone wondering, here are all the techniques I have ever used in response to random low level bullshit heckling.
1) Running away- highly effective, unless the gang are faster than your fat 12 year old self. Then You’re going to get a bottle of warm lucozade/piss poured over your head
2) Ignore- effective, if difficult. If done on the train you might get some metro heralds thrown at you. This is sensible and makes you feel a bit like a badass stoic monk.
3) Confront- It is nice to have an encounter, like the above, which is so unbelievably random and out of order that you have the unambiguous right to tell someone to fuck off. It is a great power bestowed on us once in a very long time. There are those people you meet who you know to be an absolute jerk, or you’re treated in a dickheaded way. It’s nice to be able to stand aloft on your mountain of higher ground, look them square in the eye, as you plunge to their level with a resounding fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck oooooooooooooff whistling through the air. It won’t be very effective; they are probably as stupid as marmite and will only think you’re a hilarious yapping corgi dog for all the good you do. But sometimes, sometimes, it’s just good when you have that moment, to let it rip.
Those are my three methods of dealing with idiots. I’m a pretty good target for idiots; without being too self deprecating about it I am 2 stone overweight, have a penchant for hand knitted jumpers and loudly running around with the battle cry of the strident feminist on my lips. I am totally cool with being a punching bag for people’s bad humour because I’d rather it be me than someone a little less capable of shrugging, and checking out of the whole thing. So yeah, bring it on.
I can run much faster away from your lucozade piss now.
Niamh ‘Cunt life’ Keoghan