Face to Face

BY: EMILY ANTONELLI

I am a coward.  I wish it weren’t true, but it is.  It’s funny.  I am the bravest person alive when the guy is across the street from me.  It has happened many times before.  But when this guy was right up in my face, all I could do was look forward and try to mask how absolutely terrified I was.  I guess I just never thought I would ever get put into a situation like that.  I make it my mission in life to be as small and unnoticeable as possible.  So when this guy was standing right in front of me, talking to me the way he was, all I could do was look past him.  Pretend he wasn’t there.  Pretend he was talking to someone else.  I felt my hands shaking so I hid them in my pockets.  I shrunk a little closer to my male friend, I tried so hard not to be noticed.  I felt like I was betraying everything I usually stood for.  I have always been about standing up for myself, and talking back when someone disrespects me.  Calling men out has been my favorite pastime for years.  And now here I was, face to face with one of the most disrespectful people I have ever encountered, and I was shrinking towards my guy friend to defend me.  Pathetic.

I did not say anything in that moment, I just let him talk to me and I pretended he was not there.  I did not acknowledge him at all.  And it was not because I did not know what to say at that moment; one of the best features about myself is my quick wit.  No.  It was just fear.

“See this hand?” He asked me.  I did see it.  It was huge.  It was cracked and calloused with plump, swollen finger like sausages.  I did not speak.  “That’s a big hand.” He said, “Let me see yours.”  I kept my hands in my pockets.  They were still shaking.

“See, if I smack you with this hand, it’ll hurt.  And if I smack your ass- it’ll still hurt but you’ll like it.”  He laughed.  I just stared straight ahead.  Silently begging for him to go away.

Why did it have to be today?  Why could it not have been that Friday when I was dressed for Halloween? My hair was covered by a straggly blonde wig and my eyes were X-ed out with black tape. Or even better yet, that Saturday, while I was dressed for Comic Con in a coat that was splattered with fake blood?  Perhaps then I would have been left alone. Even if I wasn’t, my masked appearance would have most likely given me the extra boost of confidence that I needed. Of course I was not the only one who was having trouble with this guy. He was harassing everyone in line.  I guess I just expected him to look past me. Most people do, after all. I was so ready to talk back if he started going after one of my friends, but when it was me, I froze up. Stupid. I guess I am not as tough as I thought I was.