Beautiful early afternoon. Partly cloudy and breezy but warm and I’m sweeping up the front steps that lead down to the sidewalk ó call me crazy, but having been an apartment dweller all my life, I’m totally digging the bi-weekly yardwork thing. All’s good. I’ve got 14 steps worth of leaves and twigs and such piling up, and only about three steps or so left to go. Having just given a broomful of the accumulation of yardjunk a shove closer to the bottom, a man walking on the sidewalk comes into view from around a hedge. He looks at me seemingly congenial and I nod a neighborly hello. He responds by yanking the iPod earbuds out of his head and coming to a complete stop at the foot of the steps.
“Oh yeah, that’s great!” he exclaims. “I know you saw me yet you still you swept all that shit on me. That’s assault, you know!”
Man… it was tough trying to extricate from the serene zen yardwork state I’d achieved and process everything in the moments immediately after his tirade. First, his tone, body language and general demeanor left me to immediately dismiss any hope that he might have been kidding. Second, it next became readily apparent that this guy was, in fact, a complete asswipe and nothing remotely resembling a neighborly type person. Third, was the newsflash realization that I’d just been accused of a crime ó one I clearly did not commit. Fourth, well… now was the time for me to formulate and release a response.
But none came. So instead of any sort of intelligent retort I stood there trying to figure out how to reel my entirely wide-open jaw back up into its regular closed and locked position. He stood there, waiting.
In the interest of filling his reproachful void and to prove I was capable of coherent speech, I finally spluttered out some sort of “I’m sorry… I didn’t see you,” to which he just huffed in victory and flabbergast before rhetorically reiterating “You do know that’s assault, right?” Without waiting for an answer, he reinserting the earphones and marched further southward along the sidewalk. Watching him go, my mind whirled, but still couldn’t deliver anything less witty or more desperate than “You’ve gotta be kidding!” which I let loose at a loud enough volume to stop him in his tracks a house and a half down the street. Slowly he turned, this time extricating only one earpiece as I said “I’ll be happy to call the police if you’d like to press charges against me.”
“What did you say?” I repeated myself louder still, this time holding my fist up to my ear with my thumb and pinky extended in the international symbol of “Call Me!” I may or may not have stuck my middle finger out for emphasis. And now it was his turn to be dumbstruck before repeating his mantra about me seeing him and yet still sweeping yardcrap all over him. “You know, that’s ass ó!”
“Yeah yeah yeah,” I said. “We’ve been over that assault shit time and again already. Let’s move on: either take me up on my offer to contact the local law enforcement and have me arrested or hurry on to the pharmacy and pick up your lithium prescription.”
While he contemplated those options I then asked if “assault” was his Word Of The Day, and if so he should be commended for using it so well in a sentence. “And so often, too!”
Inquiring as to what tomorrow’s word might be, he just waved me off telling me “You’ve gotten your Jones off about this!” before heading on his way. Hunh? I thought about asking for clarification or if he’d just rather be shown the difference between simple and aggravated assault, but I thought better of it and just went back to my sweeping, which just wasn’t as fun anymore.