I’d just had a wonderful afternoon with another fat friend, talking about fat feelings and social justice and mental health while we sat alongside the Thames River and then took a stroll in the sunlight along the SouthBank towards St. Paul’s. I was feeling blissed out from all the warmth and connection and experiencing that kind of healing that only really comes from sharing stories and affirming one another’s existence.
And then an angry little dude in a business suit pulled his cell phone away from his ear long enough to spit at my feet in a crosswalk and yell at me to “Jesus Christ, get some goddamn exercise!” before going back to his conversation.
I just kept walking to the other side of the street, sort of taking in what had happened and figuring out how to process it. I turned around to look back across at him. He’d just kept walking, no turning around to look back.
The thing that bothered me most was that he felt so entitled to abuse me on the street that he hadn’t the slightest bit of shame about doing it into the ear of whomever was on the other end of that cell phone. Granted, angry little men like him probably don’t keep the best company, but I think some stubbornly naive part of me imagines that people who lash out at others in blatantly cruel ways at least have the good sense to be vaguely ashamed of it. Not so with this angry little man.
The badge-worthy moment in this, however, is that what struck me in the moment was his lack of shame — and not the shame he tried to make me feel. That shame never came at all.