Thursday, November 3, 2011

Raising Cain

It happened to me, too. I have my own personal Herman Cain. He was a creepy Social Worker at Child Protective Services. Almost two decades ago, during my "save the children" career, I had to see him once a week for a group meeting at his crappy government office and also one-on-one out in the community if we were assigned to the same family. Something about me set him off. He behaved rather normally around everybody else, but when I entered a room he turned into a crude, vulgar, offensive asshole. He would lick his lips, grab his crotch, stare at my chest, loudly scrape a metal chair across a room until he hit the wall, then cross his arms and slouch down in it until he was low enough to peer under the table at my legs for an hour. I would search the room to try to find somebody else that noticed, but for weeks nobody did. I blamed myself. Was I imagining it? He told me I was. Did I wear something to encourage it? If you saw some of the South Phoenix ghettos I traipsed through, where the last thing on anybody's mind was the crack-addicted newborn, never mind the condition of the sofa, you would understand my non-flashy thick, black wardrobe. I thought at first maybe I just didn't get his jokes. But I have a good sense of humor. I can be freakin' hilarious at times and tell a great dirty story with the best of them. Maybe I just didn't find him charming. But even if he looked like this,
the behavior was disgusting. I showed my wedding ring as much as possible. Spoke frequently about Shana. As things got worse, I eventually went to him and enumerated all of the disgusting things he had done or said to me. He told me that nobody would believe me. I felt ashamed for the first time in my life. These things happened to weak, uneducated people. Wimps. Right? Not me. I'd handled other jerks before. Guys that thought they were all that. I could knock them back down with a comment or a look, somehow making it clear that they needed to move on. I wanted to be able to handle this yahoo on my own, too, but he wouldn't stop. It got to the point where I hated going to work when I knew he would be around. I finally gave up and went to my Supervisor and she, somehow, took care of it. The next time I went to the CPS office, he wasn't there.

Ten years later, on a Sunday morning at Chompie's, I saw him. A clown guy walked up to the table and asked Shana if she wanted a balloon animal. I didn't place him right away (probably something to do with the clown outfit). He started getting out the balloons and it hit me. I felt sick. Out of nowhere it was like I was right back in that dingy office. The worst part - I didn't even get any joy out of the fact that he was now the balloon guy at Chompie's. I looked up and said, "Go away."

"Don't you want a balloon?"

As I stared at him, he finally recognized me. "Now."

And he did.

Just like Herman Cain is about to do.

(random balloon guy)

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