Every so often, I go into shutdown mode.
It’s usually because someone has upset me, and my first reaction is to come off Twitter and Facebook and go into hibernation. Although I don’t mind drama in my own life and even thrive on it, I don’t like it in other people’s and, when they involve me in things that don’t concern me and cause trouble, I clam up. I stay indoors, watch wall to wall Law and Order: SVU on the telly, and sit pondering why people have to be so horrible.
I keep forgetting how much this upsets people. They worry. When you spend a ridiculous amount of time on social networking, as I do, disappearing from it altogether makes people fear the worst; it’s all they can do to stop themselves sending out search parties when they see your locked down Facebook page.
But I don’t like confrontation. People might find that odd for someone who has spent over 30 years of their life in journalism and broadcasting. But I’m lucky enough, in that world, to have had very little confrontation. Coming from the UK, where satire dissipates aggression in many areas of the media, I’ve been lucky enough not to become involved in huge arguments. We discuss, debate, laugh; we take what we call “the piss” out of each other. I know people who do thrive on more heated confrontation; I just never have. A raised voice can reduce me to tears.
Following the latest upset, my friends have been trying to coax me from my apartment for a week, to no avail. Last night, one said that he was going out with a great group of people, one of whom was very keen to meet me (I have reviewed her on TV). They were at a bar I didn’t want to go to and so I arranged to meet them at an Irish bar close to Times Square.
When you’ve been hiding from humanity for a week, people can seem very scary. Especially very large sports fans watching an ice hockey game sitting on the stool next to you. Let’s call him Gerald, to try to bring the tension down a bit.
Gosh, was Gerald a fan. An ex ice hockey player himself, he filled me in on the gruesome details of the joy of feeling ice shards on his face, and blades and whatnot . . . He told me who he was supporting, but I had to ask whether it was the men in white or the men in blue. It was the blue ones.
“Who are the others?” I asked. “Fucking ISIS! Bunch of beheading bastards.” To be honest, “Washington” would have sufficed.
The men in white scored. “PUSSIES, PUSSIES! THE WHOLE FUCKING LOT OF YOU!” yelled Gerald.
I find the linguistic retardation difficult to take in New York. I don’t mind swearing and, indeed, have been known to partake of the odd expletive myself. But in LA, it just doesn’t happen on the same scale. I have been years without hearing so much as a “Damn”. But in New York, everything goes, and usually when a lump like Gerald is sitting in front of a TV screen.
So, back to Gerald and his blood pressure. The next great event was when the men in blue scored. I kid you not: Gerald picked up his chair and threw it. He also shouted a lot of things about cosmonauts that I didn’t understand. To me, it was just a few men on ice waving sticks. I had to move when Gerald’s next chair threatened to knock me out.
When my friends arrived, we moved on to Rudy’s, a dive bar in Hell’s Kitchen where the drinks are cheap and they give away hot dogs. We had a lovely time and it was good to meet some UK journalists who were in town. It was like finding my own kind on Mars. When they said goodbye to me on the corner of 43rd and 9th, there was a guy in front of me on the sidewalk of 43rd who I thought started to walk more slowly. I slowed my pace, too. Then he slipped behind a truck where I saw him lurking. I turned quickly to go back to 9th.
“You fucking bitch! Whore! Fuck you, bitch!” I heard, as even more expletives followed me up the street.
Having lived in a lot of major cities, I consider myself pretty streetwise and I am used to being out late at night by myself. But call it gut instinct, this just didn’t feel right. I returned to Rudy’s, where one of the security staff walked me halfway down 44th until I felt I was safe.
Then, I nearly got killed. There were still double figures left on the lights on the crossing, but a yellow cab came speeding up at such a pace, I froze. There was a screech of brakes and a yell of “Fuck you!” (That one was from me, though). I was an inch of being wiped out – and I am not exaggerating.
I hate the car versus pedestrian laws in LA and NY (I have no idea about the other states). It’s very easy for cars in the UK: red, you stop, green you go. No “If I fancy turning left I’m allowed to even if the light is red” kind of nonsense.
So, I’ve decided never to go out again (again); it’s much simpler that way, even though I have to deal with the stresses of being indoors. Today, some organ sounding thing 27 floors down in the street was playing Oh Come All Ye Faithful, shortly followed by Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
Maybe that taxi did run me down and I’ve been in a coma for seven months.
If that’s the case, Happy Christmas, everyone.
Excuse me for not sending you a card.