A Moment

November 5, 2007
Something flies past your face so fast you barely get a glimpse of it. You can not describe that thing. You can describe the blur you saw or the breeze you felt as it went by, but you can not describe that thing, what it is, as it is while standing still.
So it is with memories – moments. Some escape before you can take down all the details, leaving you lingering and confused, feeling like a failure as a writer because you can't include the color shoes your teacher was wearing when that crucial moment happened. There are moments when the details escape while you're grasping for the very basics.

A girl and her boyfriend exit the lunchroom and proceed down a middle-school hallway with carpeted walls. The hallway is next to empty: just the girl, her boyfriend, and a group of boys loitering by some lockers.
A boy detaches himself from the group and walks backwards until he bumps into the girl. He apologizes, pats her on the breast, and walks back to his friends.

Was that an accident?
Because…that was some weird accident.
There's something wrong here. The steps are out of order. You apologize AFTER you accidentally feel someone up. Or you don't say anything and just retreat nervously – it isn't polite, but it makes sense. It doesn't make sense to bump into somebody, say you're sorry, feel them up, and then walk away. There either needs to be another apology or an omission somewhere. This doesn't hold up.
Why did he bump into me? He wasn't off-balance. He was walking backwards, but he looked over his shoulder. He could see me. Why was he walking backwards? Where was he going? He wasn't going anywhere. He walked backwards, bumped into me, and then went back the way he came. What on earth was he doing?
Did he seriously just do what I think he just did?

The guy was hanging around with his friends. Maybe they dared him. Maybe he took it upon himself. Either way, somebody in that group thought it was a nice day to be funny, and the inevitable consensus was that he was going to cop a feel on the next girl who walked by, and that's where I come in – wrong place, wrong time, splendid job, Tracey. He figures he'll cover it up by bumping into me. Lousy actor. Lousy sonofabitch.

“You should have slapped him.”
Oh, duh. Very feasible. Turn around and slap a perfect stranger in the school hallway in front of a bunch of his friends. Who exactly is going to believe why I did it? What makes you think it'd even hurt if I slapped him? Oh, but I forgot. Life is a movie. That would have been the dramatic thing to do. Confrontation, confrontation, confrontation.
There was no confrontation. I should have said SOMETHING. A “hey!” or a “watch it!” would have been at least kind of satisfying. But I turned around and ran. I don't know what from. He wasn't even around anymore.
That's what still pisses me off. The lack of confrontation. I had a split second to talk back and I missed it. Had to know who he was to report him, couldn't see the point in confronting him the next day. Hi, are you the guy who felt me up in the hallway yesterday? Because you're a bad actor. And an asshole. And you're pathetic and lame, and what the hell were you playing at? Can't you see that I have no chest and that I was walking with my boyfriend and your little cover up was the lamest bit of theatrics since High School Musical?
But you just can't confront someone the next day for an offense that existed only in the space of a moment. So the next day, I mustered my courage and gave him a really dirty look. And you know? I don't think he noticed.

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