Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Teenage Strangers

© 2009 Karen Van Fossan

If you've never been called a b**ch by random, teenage strangers, you don't know what you're missing.

Naturally, I was minding my own business when the whole thing took place.

Location: Corner of 16th Street and Avenue F in Bismarck, ND.
Time: Not long after the local high school let out.
Temperature: Zero degrees Fahrenheit, not including windchill.
My activity: Standing on the curb, waiting to cross the street.
My wardrobe: Suitable for Zero degrees.

Have you pieced it all together?

It took me a while to piece anything together. When the guys yelled out their SUV window, "Nice scarf, B**ch!" I was shocked. Furious. Vengeful. Thirsty for their blood.

What I wasn't -- was clever.

My own teenage years did nothing to prepare me for scarf-related harassment. What's a witty comeback for “Nice scarf”?

Takes one to know one! OR At least I know how to use it! aren't going to cut it.

Then, of course, there's the “B**ch” part. I considered an obscene gesture. But my fingers got it all jumbled up with the hand sign for Peace.

Anyway, as you might imagine, the whole thing raised my temperature quite a bit. I barely needed a scarf anymore.

Even a nice one like this.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Who's Back There... (or The Meaning of Life)

© 2009 Karen Van Fossan

Ever have an encounter that revealed the meaning of life -- or at least put your own life into perspective? Here's mine:

I'm walking through a parking lot in Boulder, Colorado. Ahead, I spot a van -- a 60s-style van, painted in pastels, back end covered in bumper stickers. The van is in my path, in the direction I'm already going, so I head that way. Come to find out, the van won't move. The passenger leans on her open door, trying to walk the van forward.

Then, all of a sudden, a tidy-looking sedan pulls up. A tidy-looking woman gets out. She doesn't say a word. She just steps to the rear of the van. And she pushes. Together, the three of us push. Nothing.

So -- out pops the driver. She pushes at the front, leaning on her open door. The driver says to the passenger, "We can do it. We are strong women!" We keep pushing. We push some more. And can you believe? We get that van moving. All four of us, working together.

But as soon as we're done, the driver and the passenger jump up into their seats. Ready to go. They never tell us thanks. They never even wave. Then I understand -- Never once, this whole time, did they ever turn around. They never knew we were helping them. They never knew there were two strong women at the rear. What I'm trying to say is...

I'm saying a person can never be sure who's back there.