08 December 2010

Nothing But That Middle Finger

from Proverbs Thirteen

"One who guards his mouth keeps his life."  This is true in so many ways.  One time, on my way to a wedding in Midtown, a guy almost ran me over in the middle of the crosswalk.  I had the right of way and I let him know; but he threatened to kill me.  Apparently doing so with his car wasn't pleasure enough and after an unforgettable verbal tirade about masculinity, femininity and homosexuality, he concluded with the promise to take my life. 

It was an odd moment.  I couldn't exactly cross in front of him, because there was no guarantee on a salubrious outcome.  Standing there waiting for him to move on came with risks as well--since he was hanging out the door shaking a fist with the promise to end my life.  So I stood firm, kept my mouth shut, and kept my eye on him.  In keeping him there, with me saying nothing, I kept my life.

One who guards his mouth keeps his life.  This is to say nothing of guarding my assailant's mouth--that's his to worry about.  Wherever that miscreant may be.

I have on occasion thought back on this moment and wondered what makes a man attack another man like that?  What kind of father did he have--if he had one at all? 

"He that spareth the rod hates his son but he that loveth him chasteneth him sometimes."  The most disrespect I ever showed my father was when I was in high school and I was so mad at him that I flipped him the middle finger.  He was visiting our house--several years after the divorce--and on this particular occasion, I was simply angry that he didn't live at home.  Perfectly understandable.  But my expression was disrespectful nonetheless.  I remember the moment like it was yesterday.  I was standing in the garage with my basketball in my hand.  In the other hand, well, nothing but that middle finger. 

He pulled the car back in driveway, got out, walked up to me, and slapped my cheek.  Not too hard but enough to send a message.  I didn't turn the other cheek; but I didn't resist either.  I knew I deserved it.  And I've never showed disrespect like that to a parent again.

"But he that loveth him chasteneth him sometimes."

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