I'm a parent of twin daughters. One of them is a little bit over a year old. The other is perpetually three weeks old, because that's how old she was when she died, never having left the hospital. The fact of her death is an odd sort of thing. In a sense, it's a central part of who I am. My scars aren't the fun kind you can show off in a bar. But it's also pretty removed from my day-to-day life: it doesn't, you know, come up in conversation.
I'm sitting at happy hour with some friends and this
friend-of-a-friend guy I'm meeting for the first time. The topic of
conversation is kids, and this guy, who has just mentioned that he has
two adult daughters, stops suddenly and turns to me with this crazy
light in his eyes. I don't even see him start to move, but suddenly his
fist is jabbing into my sternum, hard. Then he gives me this kind of "what are
you going to do
about it" sneer and turns casually back to the conversation, which keeps
going like nothing happened.
I just sit there, waiting for my breath to come back, because that's what I'm supposed to
do. I want to pull myself to my feet and make violence happen. But
it's not his fault, what he did. No one
else saw a thing, and bizarrely he didn't even mean to do it -- if I fought back, I'd be the one getting aggressive
for no good reason.
Because the punching and the sneering part, that's not what
happened. What happened is that the guy said, "Well, my daughters both
survived to adulthood, so I guess I'm not a complete failure as a