It’s 4:37 in the morning. I know for certain because I’ve just looked at my phone to confirm the fact that it is, indeed, the middle of the night when the woman outside my window has started to scream at her (soon to be ex) boyfriend. Shrill and piercing, her accusations rip down through the blackness, not dissimilar to the horrible sound of a cat in heat – an almost roboticized forcing of angry air against a strained esophagus. “YOU BAD WORD BAD WORD BAD WORD. YOU’RE A BAD WORD BAD WORD BAD WORD. Get outta here! BAD WORD BAD WORD.” In the 32-minute long beratement, I hear the man only twice.
The few times I have heard such domestic altercations aired out on the streets of my sleepy Brooklyn neighborhood, there has definitely been a reoccurring trend: the woman screams like a banshee while the man remains nearly mute, the audible equivalent of a bad dog with his tail tucked between his legs or a Navy Seal in the face of battle. In either case, he is unflinching, the staid sail in a raging tempest.
An unseen neighbor has offered their two cents on the situation, more bold than myself who is currently ducking near the windowsill while I debate whether I should bother calling the cops or not. Even though her voice makes me want to peel my skin off, I don’t want a dead girl on my conscience.
“YEAH, SHUT UP!” the woman retorts, less purposefully clever than obviously drunk. “ISN’T HE A BAD WORD BAD WORD?!”
It is hard to say whether the man is truly at fault and deserves such treatment. Were he innocent, perhaps he would fight back, roaring in response. No matter. Silent he remains. She continues to wage a one-sided war.
In my experience with men, I, no matter how correct I might be in an argument, end up sounding like a raving lunatic. The sense that you are truly and utterly psychotic is only exacerbated by the fact that the gentleman in question, guilty or otherwise, generally remains a silent, unresponsive lump. It seems one’s natural reaction to, well, get a reaction would be to push the issue further, continuing along your tirade until – pop! – something snaps, thereby justifying your tiresome ranting. At least that’s how girls think. Men, on the other hand, retreat into themselves, biding their time until they can meet a buddy, grab a couple beers, and quickly forget it ever happened.
For over half an hour she continues with the same line of thought, any intelligent malice hindered by what sounds like the fifth bottle of gin she had for dessert and a fifth grader’s vocabulary. I’m waiting for the man to break down, if not in words than in action: a slap, a punch, a gunshot wound.
Against women, men are like POWs who would rather die from one million paper cuts than participate in a particular brand of female verbal abuse. Because at the end of it, whether he was right or wrong, he can tell the story and brush her off. “Man, that chick c r a z y.”
And yeah, he’d sort of be right.