Tuesday Scissors and I biked into the city. Tuesdays mean farmers’ markets, and farmers’ markets mean free food: fruit and vegetables too ugly too sell, leftovers we’d usually need to climb and dig to get to.
Backpacks full of apples, cauliflower, fennel, and salad, we locked up our bikes and took a walk through the circus that the city becomes every Christmas season. Mainz’s shopping district is a mess. Not a literal mess—you’d be hard pressed to find any actual trash—but a diagonal, triangonal, octagonal mess of alleys crossing pedestrian ways crossing side streets, winding in and out and around the usual European chain stores and their garbage cans. With Christmas on the horizon, the atmosphere teeters precariously between Charming Small European City and Consumer-Crazed Nightmare From Plastic-Santa-ed Golden-Ribbon-Topped Hell.
Scissors bought rat food (pets) and in order to avoid the Christmas market, we turned and walked past a crowded bus stop that was shipping people in and out of holiday cheer land. A few nondescript 14-year-olds yelled at us as we walked by. “Fucking punks!”
Is that an insult? Is it possible to feel insulted by the commentary of pubescent euro-trash-mullet-sporting teenagers in sweatpants?
Sciccors yelled some generic insult back at them, and we continued on our way.
“Fucking assholes.” We shook our heads. Scissors is tall—a good two heads taller than me— and his face is pierced a good ten, twenty times. But Tuesday we were winter incognito: bundled up, not a strand of my pink dreads or his radiation-green Mohawk visible beneath the layers of scarves and hoods and jackets. Well, ok, you could see one strand of his Mohawk. And all the piercings. “Imagine if I yelled at everyone who I thought I wouldn’t like?”
“Then we’d be yelling at people all day. Ah well. Fuck it.”
In one store—this junk ornament store that I can’t believe manages to stay in business—there was a display of magical beans outside. Each bean had a name on it, and, the packaging proudly proclaimed, when you planted the bean, it would grow into a plant with the bit with the name on it stuck somewhere where you could see it. Your special name plant. Great. So, under the power of the magic beans, we went inside tackyland to marvel at the extremes “sell-able” junk is capable of reaching. We were the only ones inside until, oh wait, oh goody goody, oh what a pleasant surprise, it’s the teenagers from the bus stop, who followed us all the way here just to continue to hassle us. Wow. I can’t wait to talk to them again. They were really awesome.
We left the store; they made menacing gestures in our direction. “What the hell do you want? We don’t want to fight you. YOU yelled at us. We just want to go on our way. Fuck. Off.”
They answered, something about wanting to fight, a your mom slash or two, something about wanting to “clear this up.” As if there was anything to clear up besides the question of why they had yelled at us in the first place, why they had thought it was necessary to follow us, and why we were wasting our breath talking to them now. We started to walk away; they yelled after us again. I may or may not have yelled something back that involved the words “pathetic” and “jack-off.” They threw a half-full MccyDeaths soda at us, missed, and we kept on walking.
“What the fuck is wrong with those people?”
“Frustrated teenagers. Probably need to get laid. Probably got an F in school today.”
“Fucking ridiculous. They followed us. I can’t believe they followed us. Gross.”
We headed into the Römer Passage—a little enclosed mall-esque shopping center—and headed up the escalator toward a big chain bookstore. I glanced behind us. “Umm, Scissors, those guys are still following us.”
We turned around just as they came up behind us on the escalator. There they were, practically stepping on the backs of my shoes, all six of them in all their frustrated glory: gelled Euro-mullets shining in the midafternoon sun, black fanny packs, baggy jogging pants, H&M printed sweatshirts, angry, insulted looks on their faces. I wondered, for a second, if they were well-liked at school, if this was the new face of popularity. But before I could even shudder at the thought, we’d gotten to the second floor, and they’d started in with their “do you want to fight why did you insult my moms I’m going to kick your ass if not today then the next time i see you mother fucker I’ll find you” spiel.
“Why don’t you leave us alone? YOU yelled at US. We don’t want to fight you, we don’t want to talk to you, we don’t want to have anything to do with you, and I didn’t call your god damn mom a whore. Just forget it. Leave. Us. Alone.”
But you called us sons of bitches! (No, I called you jack-offs. Because you got all stalker-creepy and followed us and wanted to fight us for no reason.) Yeah well, you’re just a bunch of fucking asocial punks, always getting drunk in front of the train station, mooching off of social welfare. (Umm, last I checked this was the mall, we’re sober, and neither of us are on welfare. And if we were, that would be a good reason to harass us? Wow, you guys really are awesome.)
I gave up; talking was futile. Nothing gets my panties in a bunch like people judging others because of the way they look. Get to know me and hate me and I’ll understand. Yell at me because you’ve made a snap judgment based on hairstyle and company, and well, I’m going to file you in the still-thin file of People I Hate and Would Very Much Like to Hit in the Face With a Broken Bottle. Jesus. Crust. “Fuck this. Scissors, let’s just fucking go.”
“Tell your fucking girlfriend that she shouldn’t open her mouth so wide. Tell her if she doesn’t shut the fuck up that we’re going to beat the shit out of her.” I couldn’t hear the rest, I was Away, and eventually a quiet duder who’d been standing in the back called off his friends, calmed them down, and led them back down the escalator. They left, and we retreated into the bookstore, a little pissed, a little confused, a little shaky. It’s a little disconcerting, being followed by people who want to smash your face in.
“Those fucking fuckers. I would have really liked to have just punched that dude in the gray shit in the face. I don’t give a shit if I have to take a few punches. But I’m pretty sure they would have kicked the shit out of you too, and then I would have felt guilty for having started it.”
“I thought people like that had bizarre codes of honor, like never hitting girls.”
“I don’t think those kids gave a shit. I think they would have beat the shit out of you too. Girl or not.”
“Well, at least they’re not sexist. Fuckers. Let’s just get out of here. I don’t feel like walking around any more.”