Sunday, October 30, 2011


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 parent."