I wish I could tell you the exact words spoken by the woman with the blue hair, but I was bending over having an argument with my daughter about not shutting off her Nintendo DS and I didn’t see the woman when she spoke to me. She said something like “If you spank your daughter in public I can only imagine what you do at home.” Let me clear this up first: I don’t spank or hit my daughter, nor did I on the streets of Ventura that day. But somehow this woman in her late twenties with bright blue hair and a coffee in her hand thought I did. Somehow her mind saw something that did not happen and she felt the need to comment on the illusion.
“Sorry?” I said. “What did you say?”
She told me I shouldn’t spank my daughter. I guess at this point I should have just walked away and ignored her. But as my daughter had already wound me up by continuing to play her game and giving me attitude about it, I was already in “fray mode.” I won’t go into all details of the loop that started at this point, but it started with me explaining that my wife and I don’t believe in spanking and never do it, which is true, as I got spanked a ton growing up and wasn’t going to inflict that on my child. So, this complete stranger accusing me of something like that got me pretty heated fast. My voice was loud and I was pissed, but anything I said was followed by something to the effect of “I saw you spank her.”
Now had this been an argument with another man, it would have escalated into a fist fight, which would have caused me to cough up blood, of course, and the police would have come and it would have been a mess. Fortunately, I realized two things: I couldn’t get in a fight with a woman, as that would cross a line I would never be able to live with; the argument was becoming pointless, as arguing with her would never change her mind of what she thought she saw.
My daughter started crying at this point, which should have a been a major clue for the woman that she was wasn’t crying before, a good indication she didn’t get spanked. “You made your daughter cry,” she said. “You made my daughter cry,” I said, which doesn’t sound that cool on the page but I said it with such intensify that the woman didn’t say anything after that. I hugged my daughter and looked back at the woman one more time. She flipped me off. I just waved her off in a way that said you’re not worth my time and walked away with my daughter, who had never experienced anything like this heated argument in her life.
We went for pizza and it turned into a great teaching moment. We spoke about how we couldn’t let the woman ruin our day. We could have gone back to the car and gone home, but she would have defeated us if we had done that. It also allowed me to discuss the types of people that exist in the world and how you have to be street smart, which is another reason you don’t walk along with your head down playing your DS. People and situations come at you fast. Head up, eyes open.
If there is a karma side to the story it’s this. As my daughter and I got back to the car later, a woman called out to me. She and her two friends were there when the argument was going on. She told me she had seen me standing with my daughter and I hadn’t spanked her, which is amusing as I didn’t need confirmation, but I understand she meant it as support. She said I was controlled and had it happened to her she’s not sure she could have managed it like I did, which is funny as I felt wound up and bordering on a lack of control, but I didn’t use foul language in public and in front of my daughter, which I was happy about.
This nice woman told me she debated getting involved and stating that I didn’t spank my daughter, which deep down I would have liked just to prove the blue-haired woman wrong. But who knows what would have happened or if the annoying woman would have even believed the witness. It may have escalated the situation. So, I let my witness off the hook and told her it was best that she stayed out of the situation. It seemed she needed to hear this, as her inaction was bothering her. I was happy to help her let it go and absorb all of the burden.
Now if I could just let the damn thing go. It’s several days later and I still replay the situation in my mind. It taps into my CF anger and OCD and I keep thinking about it. I like to win and perhaps that’s where my frustration lies – there was no way to win, but I still want to. I also have a new appreciation for the fact many witness statements in court are incorrect. Somehow this woman saw something that did not happen, yet was convinced it did. Or, she just wanted to mess with me, which is possible. Or who knows what her motivation was – and that bothers me. For as long as I live, I’ll never know what really happened that day or understand human behavior, including my own.