Putty Peeps Diaries - See Dick, He Takes Up a Lot of Space, Don't Be a Dick
Traveling around the city, visiting coffee shops I notice a lot of things that I note and move past. Today I noticed something and could not move on. Today I noticed how much space some people take without out a care or concern for those around them. What am I talking about? Let me set the scene.
A local coffee shop, busy with patrons on the last sunny day of fall. Seats are at a premium. A wall of tables is lined up against the wall with bench seating on one side and a chair on the other. Underneath the bench are outlets for people to use to plug in their computers or other electronic gadgets. An older woman sits on the bench at the table set against the wall. Two women sit at the table next to her, one woman sits at the bench and the other sits in the chair facing her companion on the bench. Next to these two women is an empty table. Next to that table is a man, let’s call him Dick, sitting in between the two tables, legs crossed at the knee, his foot sticking out and blocking both tables. Dick’s small child sat in the chair opposite him at the end table. This Putty Peep asked, ever so politely, if Dick was using both tables. “He is small, my child is small,” Dick replied looking me up and down, weighing and measuring, and finding me green and worthless. His child, aged 4 or 5 was small. But I didn’t want to sit next to little Dicky. I wanted to sit on the bench.
“Can I use this table, then?”
Dick gave no reply and went back to his phone.
Dick’s child, let’s call him little Dicky looked at me, coughed without a hand over his mouth, spraying bits of his cake pop on both tables, and said nothing.
I looked at Dick, who made no move to correct little Dicky’s poor manners or to move and allow me passage to the exclusive world of the bench. Not wanting to disturb the Dickdomtableau any further, I scooted around the other side of the table and made my way to the bench. I said excuse me to the two women who nodded and went back to their conversation. Because of my viscous nature, I took a napkin and wiped away little Dicky’s crumbs, saliva and other things I did not want to think about from my table.
Dick did not notice, Dick did not care, and Dick did not move. He continued to sit at both tables, taking up as much space as he could without a care for anyone else. Dicky followed suit and continued to cough and spew into the milieu of the coffee shop, always aiming the larger chunks towards me. I felt my face melt with each cough and wondered what sort of rare disease I would pick up from little Dicky. This was not the afternoon I had envisioned when I set off for the coffee shop.
Coffee shops are social places, allowing singles time for quiet reflection, or couples a space for meaningful conversations, or groups a place to share and connect. It is a common space for us all to use. A common space we must all share, equally and equitably, co-existing in the same space at the same time, generally without flying chunks of partially chewed cake pops. It is not a place where one should nominate themselves royalty, sit and expect homage from other patrons and watching reality TV on their phone. I admit it, I stole a glance at Dick’s phone, he was so close and forgot I even existed, so I thought what the hell. Yep, Dick was watching a video about housewives. At least Dick had the sound off and was watching the closed caption version, but I could still see the hair flying and nails catching dangling earrings on the small screen.
Because Dick did not notice me, or anyone for that matter, I sat and watched him. I watched his white male privilege ooze off him like powdered sugar from a cake donut. He did not care, he was not apologetic if anything he wore entitlement like a teenager wears cologne, he reeked of the stuff. His demeanor said he believed he had the right to take up as much space as he wanted, regardless of other’s needs. I am not sure if this belief was a conscious belief or if it was just simply how things have always worked in his fiefdom. For Dick it is just the way his world makes sense. While I watched him sitting at the coffee shop table I saw Dick sitting at the head of his dinner table. I saw little Dicky spitting and spewing his mashed potatoes, spoon waving like a tiny sword, and I wondered about Mrs. Dick. If there was another Mr. Dick in that picture I will eat my own tin. No, Dick definitely had a Mrs., probably more than one, because he sat there with the air of being a man who is all that and a bag of chips and has the Viagra, vanity plates and Vette to prove it. No in his home he took three cushions on the couch, one for his butt and one for each hairy fist. He never put the toilet seat up and preferred to shoot from a distance to see if he still had it after all these years. He dropped his clothes on the floor, wherever he pleased and expected them to end up back in his closet, cleaned and pressed, while those in his house whistled while they worked. He expected everyone to move for him.
The longer I watched him the angrier I got, how dare he take up so much room that I had to ask to use the space next to him. Dick, I thought was a dick. Then I realized I was angrier at myself. I am a Putty Peep, I am different. Watching Dick I realized that because I feel different, I feel a need to ask permission to move, to sit, to stand, to do anything. I am not the norm, not the mainstream, not the girl next door or the boy down the lane. Nope, none of that for me. I realized I was angry because I projected all my insecurities onto this insensitive two table hogging man I named Dick.
I sat back and thought to myself what is this all about. What really makes me mad? Is it that Dick was taking up so much damn space that I had to ask to use the table next to him? Or was I upset that he did not notice me and offer to move so I could sit down at the empty table? Or was I angry because his answer was stupid and had nothing to do with my question? Is my anger at him not moving to allow me passage warranted? Maybe, maybe not. Is my anger at all the space he takes up justified? Maybe, maybe not. What is the difference?
The difference is more about perspective than it is about space. I am angry at myself because I felt I had to ask instead of just moving alongside Dick as an equal and claiming my own space. The act of asking Dick put me in a secondary role, a weak position, a lesser person and that is what made me angry. If the situation was reversed he would not have asked he would have taken the table and then told me to move. For some reason, I did not believe I had the right to do the same. That is why I was, and still am, angry. Maybe not angry because that gives Dick too much power. No, I am incensed. Is this how polite society operates? Nope, not incensed, I am outraged. It is outrageous that this happened. Nope, not outraged, I am livid. It is unbelievable, did anyone else notice? Nope, not livid, I am furious. We have to do something, this sort of behavior should not be tolerated. Nope, not furious. Dammit, I am angry.
What do I want? Space! When do I want it? Now! What do I want? Recognition. When do I want it? Now! There it is, space equals recognition. That is why I am angry. Space and recognition equal a seat at the table, a place in the conversation, a role in decision-making majority. It equals equality. That is what the real problem with Dick is, he does not see that space equals equality because he takes what he needs and does not care about the rest of us. That is why Dick cares more about people in a Ponzi scheme than people without food and water in Puerto Rico. That is why he does not see his child spewing cake pop crumbs coated in 4 year old snot and saliva all over my table.
Why am I so angry? Watching Dick tap his foot to the scene on his tiny screen, oblivious to his child and anyone else in the coffee shop, I realize the cause of my true discomfort lies with someone else. There is one Dick above them all and his name is Donald. The Donald has created a culture of violence, of inequality, of not caring about anyone but himself and Dick has embraced this new normal. Now it is okay to tell people to shut up, to make fun of people with disabilities, to take what you want, and to roll back rights for everyone but Donald (and a few others like Dick). Donald taps his foot to the beat of the drum as he dismantles one legacy after another, repeals protections, and removes rights for everyone who is different from him. He does not care that he takes up more space than anyone on the entire planet. Donald loves to take up space, to huff and puff and blow down everyone’s home, to tread on everyone’s freedoms, to threaten via tweets, to fondle whomever he wants (with or without consent), and to act in only his own best interest.
His latest decree, proclamation and/or rant, protects discrimination if it is done in the name of religious freedom. I must admit that this Putty Peep is confused by the dichotomy of those ideals. Religious freedom, the ideal that formed one of the fundamental freedoms of the country Donald governs, means the freedom to worship without interference from the government. Okay, that is an over simplification, but it is in line with what Tony Perkins, Family Research Council President, said in his praise of Jeff Sessions' memorandum and Donald’s agenda. Donald, Jeff, and Tony, let's call them The Three Little Dickies, believe federal agencies lost focus under the Obama administration.
“President Trump and the Department of Justice are putting federal government agencies on notice: you will not only respect the freedom of every American to believe but live according to those beliefs,” Tony said in a statement. So the Three Little Dickies believe the federal government should respect the freedom of every American to believe and live according to their beliefs. Well, not every individual's beliefs only those beliefs that are the same as the Three Little Dickies. They do not believe in my religion. How do I know this? Easy, I am not a Dick. I am not part of the right group, the right wing, the right religion, the right anything. As a result I am not entitled to the same protections. Even though the Three Little Dickies say that we must respect the freedom of every American, they do not mean every American. Oh no, only the good folks who put their faith in them, respect their values and agree with their agenda, only those folks are free to drink from the well of freedom and escape bigotry and discrimination.
Watching Dick’s foot bounce, up and down, up and down, up and down, silently marching in time to the dismantling of the rights of everyone but himself, my angry grows. That bouncing foot reminds me that this Dick is a living reminder of the Three Little Dickies in this coffee shop, and that is why I am angry.
See Dick, he doesn't care about anyone but himself. See Dick, he believes in freedom only for himself. See Dick, he takes up a lot of space. Don't be a Dick.