The other day I was walking home and I got cussed by a teenager in a wheelchair. The other day is a poor quantifier, it was last week actually, on a particularly sunny day. I walk past the Aspley Neurodisability Centre twice everyday. Once to work, and once on the way back. I have a vague history that faintly links me with the place but that is just something I smile about every now and then, and hardly very interesting. I also walk past an All Girls School, so my walk home is rife with chances for faux pas as it is, without being cussed by a teenager who I think it is safe to assume had some neurological disability. I don't even know if that is the correct terminology, if that is the right thing to say in the world of "Politcal Correctness gone mad" even though political correctness isn't mad at all bar a few exemplary cases, and is in fact a pretty good thing as it stops us all walking around sounding like paragraphs in articles written by Richard Littlejohn or Aidan Burley.
So, I was cussed by this teenager in a wheelchair, and it was fairly surreal. I walk everywhere, and if I can't walk somewhere I take the bus or I get a friend or family member to drive me there. I am absolutely confident that I should never be let loose behind the wheel of a car, but I can't say for certain that I will never end up in charge of one of those metal boxes hurtling down a road near you, in the future. I take a kind of fantastical pleasure out of being driven around by other people, even on the bus, where I like to think it is because I am simply to important to drive myself, but that isn't the case. As established, I was listening to some music, which music isn't important, but it was sunny so it was unlikely to have been anything that you could stick under the 'dance' or 'electronica' labels, so you can rule them out, with certainty. I had my headphones in, and I noticed a group of teenagers or 'youths' all amassed on the little wall in front of the building and instantly realied that, as the sole other occupant of this pocket universe, I was going to be noticed.
And lo, I was noticed.
From a distance of maybe thirty feet (i'm not good at distance, or geography, or maths, or sport, or anything practical really) I noticed that they were looking at me and that crossing the road now would simply cause something terrible to happen, like a knifing or, more likely, name calling. To avoid this, I did the sensible thing: I carried on walking down the same side of the road as if nothing would happen, but it did. Like some kind of movie villain, the bold teenager in the peaked red cap advanced off the centre's drive and on to the pavement. I say he was like a movie villain because he wasn't moving under his own power, which sounds insulting, but I thought it was all rather intimidating what with his artificial carriage carrying him in a way that begat an evil genius advancing on a doomed hero via a mechanical seat during an exposition laden monologue in his polished metal floored lair. I was the doomed hero in the evil lair and his teenage friends, none of them able to apply a pair of track suit bottoms to their legs in a way that aligned with my long held ideas of what wearing trousers looked like, were his muscle, his odious and slack-jawed henchmen.
Now it is important to note here that I knew I was going to get cussed, as that is exactly the kind of thing that happens when one of a large group of types splits from the whole and makes a beeline for you, unique mode of transport is totally optional here and not at all the point of any of this. He pulled up, and said something. which I didn't hear, because if you remember, I was wearing headphones. It was a paragraph and a bit ago so I thought you might have forgotten, so I'm just reminding you I had headphones in, the really good ones that make it difficult to hear anything because they are in-ear, and seal you off from the world. I wear them so I don't have to hear other people, or talk to people I don't want to, but a lot of them still want to be heard and a lot of them want to be talked to so sometimes I have to take them out, as in this instance. I took them out, so I could hear the teen cussing me. Again, I knew he was going to cuss me, but I took them out anyway because if I didn't, I might have got knifed for being a gay or a prick, as far as I am aware this is how these sort of things work.
He cussed me by saying, for a second time (I hadn't heard the first due to my headphones), "You look like the Milky Bar Kid". This is observational wit, the kind of which I'm used to by now. Sadly though, he'd already had his thunder stolen as I was subjected to the same routine when I was in Secondary School. "You look like the Milky Bar Kid" was the same cuss I heard from a class mate who used to bully me. I'll always remember his natural body odor and Lynx Africa body spray constantly mingling together to create a sweet and heady miasma that used to follow him around like a kind of localised airborne toxic event, a pubescent smog that I dreaded because it usually meant the advent of coarse unpleasantries and unwarranted viciousness. He was right of course, I did look like the Milky Bar Kid and that startlingly this was before I started wearing far too expensive, designer, they-look-like-NHS-prescription-specs-from-the-eighties style glasses. He would have been more accurate if he had said I looked like Joe 90 but that particular razor observation has only been made a few times, by the people who have been lucky enough to be brought up on a diet of Gerry Anderson "Supermarionation" productions and Ray Harryhausen action films.
All in all though, he was right, my bully from years ago, and by extent so was this wheeled warrior, this diminutive titan in an automatic wheelchair. That was the entire extent of the cuss. I acknowledged it by admitting that, yes, I did look like The Milky Bar kid, and then I walked on. As I carried on, I was peppered by pellets from their previously concealed BB guns, which is better than being smashed with a bottle, or knifed for my iPhone, but it added to the scene and made me feel a little humiliated as I was rained on by a small cloud of yellow plastic balls.
In retrospect, I don't really mind being the butt of that little encounter because of a few factors. One was that all of those surly loiterers were clearly with their friend, despite the fact that we're so quick to judge young people as vicious animals who are racist and would spit on anyone with a vague disability just to look cool. They were with their friend, and their friend did a witty thing that was pretty harmless and I took it in my stride whilst feeling a bit bad about being to make actual, literal, strides past him. The whole thing could have gone a lot worse, and I feel a little warm knowing that I made him feel like a street thug, just like the rest of his friends.
Also, due to l'spirit de l'escalier I was already in my own private little fantasy and kicking over his wheelchair whilst calling him and all his friends sub human cunts. But it's OK, it's OK. I didn't really do that so it's OK, it's allowed.