Going home with my son yesterday, about five thirty. It's nice enough to walk for the first time this week, warmish but a little breezy, so we decide to skip the subway and enjoy the early evening air. My son wants to ride on my shoulders, so I hoist him up there. It's about a half-hour walk home from his pre-k. He's got a tootsie pop in his mouth and he's clutching his Bakugan carrying case. We are walking down Flatbush, crossing Atlantic Avenue, which is a terrible intersection -- you have to cross five or six lanes, always a ton of traffic, and the streets meet at an odd angle so you to be aware of cars making turns at unexpected places.
In the middle of the intersection, with my son on my shoulders, all of sudden there is someone next to me. Wearing: short red shorts, a wife-beater t-shirt, and...a rubber freaking pig mask that covers his whole head. He is right next to me, looking at me, maybe saying something but I don't think so. I don't remember him saying anything but he clearly wants my attention. I am, understandably, I think, a little startled, but I keep walking, of course. I'm looking at him for only maybe two seconds before I react, certain that this is a lunatic, that this is not a good situation, that this guy is not going to go away without a little help.
How do I react? I scream at him. "Get away from me!" It's a deep, bellowing, fierce kind of shouting yell, coming all the way up from my stomach. I might have pulled an oblique with this scream. I think I was trying to knock him on his ass with this scream. I don't believe I have made a noise like that since I played my last high school football game in 1986. I am absolutely as loud and big and deep and frightening as I can be. And pigboy runs off in the other direction.
When we get to the sidewalk, I take my son down and hold him in my arms. He's startled, confused, not crying. But I had frightened him with my shout and he'd screamed, so I hold him to my chest to make sure he's okay. And I turn back to see Idiot Lunatic Pigboy still playing in the traffic. Then I look past him to see four or five pasty young hipsterlooking idiots without masks and some kind of video camera on the north side of Atlantic. I am really angry and I think about crossing back to talk to them. Yell at them. Throw them through the Victoria's Secret window. They look like artschool jackasses, maybe. They look like they're having a good time. But I realize I don't want to confront them when my son is with me, don't want to make a bigger deal out of it in his eyes, and frighten him even more. But I'm tempted to go shout at them, "What the hell do you think you're doing? A guy with a kid on his shoulders in the middle of one of the worst intersections in the five freaking boroughs? And you think this is a good idea you goddam idiots?" I am tempted to threaten to crush their freaking windpipes with one hand. I'm angry.
But I turn and continue walking south on Flatbush, still holding my son, and I start to talk to him, calmly, warmly. "Hey buddy, that was weird. We sure scared him, didn't we? I don't know what he was doing, but he's a real dope, that's for sure. You okay? You scared? Yeah he's just some stupid guy in a stupid mask who thinks he's funny." And we talk about it a little bit and within another block he wants to go back up on my shoulders. And he's fine, he talks a little bit about how fast the guy ran away. But I can't stop thinking about these idiots, wondering if I'm going to end up on youtube or some such site, and my adrenalin is so high. And now I know exactly what it feels like to kick into big daddy protector mode. Yeah, hooray for me. Stupid freaking idiots. Just when you think you've seen it all.
Phillies are in town. The guy in the mask was kind of short. It was probably Shane Victorino.