Give me half an hour, smarty pants, half an hour!
Like most people in life, there are so many times when a mean comment, yelled-out insult or snide remark is thrown at you and it is impossible to think of anything remotely witty to fling right back at them.
I have tended to blush, or back away, feeling as though I'd deserved it. It would only be a few minutes/hours/days/weeks/months/years later that it would finally dawn on me that the best form of revenge is/was to serve a clever-but-cutting comment straight back; leaving my mean-spirited foe on their back foot and looking rather foolish.
However, as I've got older - as in had a child and embraced being in my late thirties; turning the radio off instead of on and accepting that flopped on our sofa with Love Chunks is my favourite nightspot, I sometimes manage to strike back in time.
This morning was one of those miracle occasions. It was forecast to be a 36C day here in Adelaide and was already pretty damn hot as I huffed and puffed my 3km on my bike uphill to work. Halfway through, my side-street route is forced to cross a very busy main road, and I always wait for ages on the median strip until it's really, truly, utterly safe for me to cross.
Whilst leaning on the curb with my left foot on the ground (I'm far too nervous and inexperienced to balance like the cool fitness freaks do), a chunky oldish bloke in a white van pulled up alongside me. He wound down his window and called out snidely, "Nice arse, darlin'." No, it wasn't meant in a 'Whip Wheel - you're HOT' kind of way: I'm smart enough to have realised that those sort of Razza Matazz moments don't happen once you've entered your fourth decade. Sadly, it was a 'Let's knock that smug sheila off her high horse so that I can feel good about myself' kind of comment. Sure, my backside isn't the smallest in town, but hey, at least I was out there trying to get fit.....
Little did this clueless cretin realise that my brain had already been busily buzzing with ideas for today's blog - what to write, what to write - why we always tell those who compliment us about our outfits that it was a bargain from K-Mart, and only mutter 'oh, thanks' when it came from somewhere posh? Or, how come I'd never heard the alterna-phrase for 'Old Boys' Club' until yesterday - Dick Links? Was there an opportunity to have a light-hearted discussion about the proliferation of strangers being really friendly to me until they realise I am not who they thought I was - my doppel-ganger must be from around here also.
My wee digression there was to set the scene - I was ready for this jerk, really ready. One nano-second after his oh-so-funny "Nice arse, darlin," I shot back angrily with, "Nice gut rolls, Butter Boy."
His response was to give me the finger (the bird, unfortunately, not a chunky Kit Kat), wind up his window and look pointedly at the traffic until he could escape my now angry face with a mouth so thin it could have been drawn on with a ball point pen. The remaining half of my bike ride was just as physically draining as the first half, but my spirits carried me along like a herd of John Cusacks tenderly supporting me on a cloud-lined stage dive. I had scored a victory for all women - and men - out there who are innocently walking along the street and get stuff like "Show us yer tits," or "Look over here if you're a poofta" thrust upon them. The very same people who then feel dirty and ashamed, and slink off as though it was their fault that they were so crudely insulted.
If only I could travel back in time to Phys Ed in 1983, when Melissa called me a brown-noser for daring to speak to our teacher, Mr C. At 14, I went red and dropped to the back of the class, to her nasty laughter. What would I give now to have said, "Oh, what's that huge thing hanging off your arse, Melissa?....(pause)... Oh, sorry, it is your arse." At the ripe old age of 38, a slap-fight in the girls' toilets at recess time would have been worth it....
Perhaps flick the time-travel dial to 1988 when some sad man decided to 'flash me' his dangly bits whilst I was walking to uni through the Botanic Gardens. My reaction was exactly what he was looking for: a shocked intake of breath, and a hasty retreat, again to the sound of nasty laughter. If only I could have borrowed my flat mate Fiona's comment to a bus-shelter loser, "I want a meal, not a snack." As you can imagine, he zipped up and got the hell out of there to her amused, victorious laughter.
Maybe the machine could be set at full-throttle to 1977, when the snobby-and-bored Mrs D said to me, a 9 year old, "You know, you mum should buy you nicer clothes, none of my kids would ever wear hand-me-downs." The puzzled and hurt little girl would now be able to sting back with, "You know, you should finish school, learn some manners and help out people less fortunate than yourself - none of my family would be caught dead getting their jollies from insulting children."
Ah, if only. Still, to even land one in one hundred makes a fantastic start to the day.