Boys Are Mean

Here are three things you need to know about me in order to understand why the following incident means something to me:

1. I have piercings. Eleven, to be exact. Five in my right ear, three in my left ear, one in my nose and two in my bottom lip. Why? Because it’s a personal fashion choice as far as I’m concerned. I used to be a sort of tomboy goth in high-school, wearing band t-shirts and black cargo pants all the time. Then I went a little emo in my fashion sense – tight sweatshirts with skulls on them and skinny jeans. Then I went indie, trying to find witty t-shits to go with my jeans and Vans sneakers. Now I’m sort of in between things, I guess. When I go out to a club, I try to look as goth as I can, because I go to music-clubs that have metal or dark electronic music. Day to day, though? I wear tank tops and regular jeans.

2. My weekly exercise is four extremely brisk walks a week. My speed is almost at five miles-per-hour. What do I wear when I exercise? Just a tank top and short-shorts, because it’s already very hot here. Also, and this is the weird part, I read while I walk. I physically take whatever novel I’m reading at the time, and bury my nose in it. I have good peripheral vision, and I’ve never walked into a tree or a person or a lamp-post or what-have-you. I DO know it’s weird, and even though I HATE the comments I get (“Woah, reading and walking, impressive!”  “What’s more attractive, your book or me?” “Hey, what chapter are you on?” “Look at her, she’ll kill someone like that!” – these are all quotes translated into English, and all are said with extremely mocking tones.) I’ve learned to live with them.

3. I’m seriously oversensitive.

I realize that I just wrote a lot more than three things about myself, but I’ll let them stand as it is. Three is a powerful number, after all. Now, to the matter of the title of this post.

Yesterday I took a walk in the afternoon. Towards the end of my regular route, I walk through this pathway that I love – it’s got houses tucked away behind walls on one side of it, and tall, thick trees in the other side. You can’t hear the traffic on that path, even though there’s a main road just over the wall of trees. It’s a place where lots of people run or walk, because it really is so pleasant, hearing the birds chirp away in the trees and seeing cats loll around in the sun. When I walked yesterday, though, I was alone. Or so I thought.

Towards the end of the path, three or four boys were sitting on a bench. They were probably eleven or twelve, but they all had that Israeli male attitude that lots of boys get here – it’s an attitude of over-confidence, of egos the size of the moon. It’s the sort of attitude that allows them to feel like kings of the world, and making fun of people doesn’t cause one twinge of guilt. But again, let me stress that these were kids.

As I walked by, huffing, puffing, sweating and reading, they started to laugh. As I got nearer one of them said “Yo, she’s a freak, be careful!” in a mocking, laughing tone [“freak” in Israel means anyone who has band t-shirts or piercings, basically]. I ignored them, although my face was burning with both anger and shame. When I’d walked past, one yelled that he could see my… erm, my behind. Maybe the shorts had ridden up a bit or maybe he was just making fun. Either way, I walked really quickly away from them. I read on, let the book and the motion soothe me, and got over it.

Today, I took another walk. Guess what? As I was walking up the last hilly part of my route, just five minutes from home, I saw a group of boys in the periphery of my vision. For a moment, I was thinking to myself “Oh no! Wait, it can’t be them again, these boys are quiet, they don’t sound raucous like that other group was.” Walking on blithely, I found out my mistake. As soon as I’d overtaken them, I heard “Yo! Look, she’s the same one from yesterday!” and “[Laughter] Reading again.” and “But she’s a freak, right?” and “But she doesn’t look like it!” and “Yeah, that’s what I said!” and finally, as I was ignoring them again and thinking that I must look like a right twerp, sweaty and red and reading, the last one said “[Laughter] She can’t here us again, see?”

I don’t know why this bothers me so much. For one, I feel hurt whenever anyone comments on my weird habits, but something about these boys’ pure malice as they talked about me loudly really got to me. Second, I guess I hate it that I never put any effort into what I wear anymore and prefer being comfortable to looking goth [which is still how I’d look if I had the money to go out and buy tons of new black items. But goth clothing is expensive, and wearing it every day takes effort]. Of course I know that it’s a silly thing to think and that if I’m comfortable, then I should stop looking for an “image”. Third – well, I guess I just am really oversensitive, and I let a few boys’ cruel remarks make me want to cry.

I do hope that I haven’t estranged anyone with this long, rambling post. You all know that I don’t tend to do this a lot and that I lean more towards trying to practice my creative writing here. But this incident was weighing me down, and now I feel all the lighter for having put it in words.

The Jazz Bar

The jazz bar is situated off of the main pavilion where the common pubs are located. The pubs on the main drag are all basically the same – crowded, smoky, electronic music blasting too loudly from the speakers. The jazz bar, however, is different. It’s roomier, more spread out, with tables both inside and out. They’re all simple affairs, black plastic tops on stainless steel legs, the chairs matching them. The main difference, of course, is the music: live jazz. The musicians change, sometimes during the course of one evening, but they make up the same basic grouping: a drummer, a bassist, a pianist, sometimes a guitarist or a trumpeter, occasionally the odd harmonica-player. The atmosphere at the jazz bar is relaxed. Although the live music is loud, louder than you would expect, conversation is still an option.

Saturday night found the jazz bar full to bursting – yet still, the space outside didn’t feel cramped. Four young men and a young woman, none of them long out of adolescence, shared a table. Four of them sat and sipped their beers while the fifth slurped his strawberry-melon-smoothie moodily, wishing he hadn’t made himself the stupid promise of zero-alcohol-for-a-month. They sat and listened to the music, one of the youths, who was on his break from drumming, occasionally made snide comments about the trumpet player who was blasting his sounds into the air. The conversation went back and forth, encompassing everything from the latest party to the correct technique of asking a girl out to dietary tips to tattoos.

The group was clearly comfortable together. The solitary girl, who wasn’t a regular addition to the group as she was the girlfriend of the curly, black-haired young man, was welcomed among them and felt surprisingly at home with them. She talked easily and laughed readily, not fearing being ridiculed and not taking to heart the light teasing that is often a single girl’s lot among boys. It dawned on her that this, too, she would leave soon. Oh, she would be back, of course she would, but the experience was all the more precious because she knew it might not be repeated for a good long while.

Wet-War

Clifford had drawn his gun. Things were bad if he’d reached that point: he hated drawing his gun unless it was absolutely necessary. Guns meant needing to aim. Guns could slip out of his grasp if he was distracted. The grenades attached to his belt were his most preferred weapon, but he’d run out of the lot of them. He knew he’d been hasty and he cursed himself for a fool. He should have known better than to waste the grenades all at once.

There was no going back now, however. Clifford crept down the alleyway he was in. There was a tall wooden fence on one side of him and red bricks belonging to the big building next to him on the other side. Approaching from the alleyway, he thought to himself, could be a good move or a bad one. Hopefully, the one he was hunting wouldn’t think to ambush him quietly from the rear. Clifford was sure his nemesis hadn’t seen him enter the alleyway in the first place, and so he believed that the possibility of being surprised wasn’t a probable one. This calmed him, and he held tightly onto his gun as he tried to make as little noise as possible.

This was the final showdown between him and his enemy. It had to be. The two of them had been fighting this war for years, and it had gotten the both of them in some serious trouble in their lives. They had agreed that this was the last fight they would have. Clifford fingered the scar on his lip and remembered how he’d gotten it the last time he’d come face to face in a struggle with the enemy. He hoped to avoid such injuries this time around. It wasn’t easy explaining to the authorities how he’d come by his scratches and bruises.

Suddenly, a wild yell split the still summer air. Clifford registered a shadow moving quickly towards him around the corner of the building. He burst out of the alleyway, and without pausing to aim carefully, squeezed the trigger on his gun. He felt, in the same instant, a grenade burst at his feet and he slipped and fell, still trying as hard as he could to keep the gun steady.

“Clifford! Jasper!” Another yell, the familiar sound of the authorities, broke through the fighters concentration. A woman, Authority herself, burst out of the red-brick house. She placed her hands on her hips and looked down her nose. “I told the both of you that today is NOT the day for one of your water wars! We have company for dinner, and I need you both inside, now.

“Aw, but Mom!” Clifford whined. “We were just getting started!”

“If you were just getting started, why are there burst water-balloons all over the backyard?” His mother shot him a look that could have frozen stone. “Inside, I said. I mean it.”

Clifford looked at his nemesis, his brother Jasper, and sighed. “This isn’t over,” he muttered. Jasper grinned, good-natured, and answered “We could have kept going if you hadn’t wasted all your water balloons right at first – then Mom wouldn’t have noticed a thing.” With an evil gleam of humor in his eyes, he skipped into the house behind his mother.

Clifford shouldered his big water-gun [it had three tanks that could be loaded!] and followed Jasper into the house. At least, he thought, I didn’t fall and split my lip this time. Mom being mad is better than three stitches at the hospital.