Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

She's Lucky To Have Escaped With Her Job

Baroy went to pay for our entry into the Museum of Natural History while I waited with the kids. When he rejoined us, he was ashen-faced, and fuming.

"What's the matter?" I asked, as he muttered particularly unsavory four-letter words under his breath.

Apparently, the woman behind the counter had swiped his credit card and started to hand it back to him, but then suddenly said, "Uh-oh. It says 'Call police.'"

I can only imagine what went through his mind in that second, as he looked at the woman and managed to spit out the word, "What?" Stalker girl. What had she done now? How could this be possible? Who had actually believed her? Did we have our lawyer's number on hand? Was he actually going to have to defend himself against her imbecilic accusations? Was he going to wind up in jail? What were we going to do?

"I'm just joking," said the broadly smiling woman.

Just joking. Just joking. Just joking.

I remember once, back in my ABigScienceMagazine days, we had an intern who was trying to buddy up with everyone. I also remember, with startling clarity for something that probably occurred 17 or 18 yeas ago, a day when a bunch of us were going to lunch, and we stopped by the bank to get cash. The intern was telling a supposedly funny story while we waited in line--what the story was about eludes me--and he ended it with the line, "So I raped her."

There was dead silence as several of us looked at one another. When I spoke up, it was in the deadly calm voice that people who know me well know is an indication of deadly seriousness. "Lemme give you a little comedy tip here, Will," I said. "Rape jokes are never funny. Never."

I remember nothing else about that intern nor, I think, does anyone else who knew him. To all of us, he will forever be known as "that stupid rape-joke guy."

Although I'm generally inclined to give most people the benefit of the doubt, and although I know that the woman at the museum meant nothing by it, I now need to expand that rule of comedy to include things that might threaten someone's personal safety. Maybe it's just me, but I'm thinking there are a lot of people who walk through that museum's gates each day who would be upset rather than amused by a comment like that, or at least knocked a bit askew. I know I was, if the number of times I snapped at Em and N through the rest of our museum stay was any indication.

There's so much that's no longer funny to me, even though it might have amused me in the past. Anything that evokes Stalker Girl is in that 'not funny' category.

Rape jokes are never funny. Threats of imminent arrest are never funny. Stalker jokes are never funny, either. And that's because there's nothing even slightly amusing about being raped, or stalked, or threatened. And there's nothing even slighly amusing about being reminded of that rape, that stalking, or that threat.

Perhaps the Museum of Natural History needs to work on its customer service training a bit.

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