BUSTED BY A GYPSY
How do I know they are Gypsy?
I had some run-ins in L.A. many years back. Had they worn a banner it wouldn't have been more obvious.
The patriarch wore a special hat with a silver spangled band.
I've seen the old gypsy with his cane and his scowl. He walks like a king or a panther at prowl.
They have been portrayed as cunning, mysterious outsiders who tell fortunes and steal before moving on to the next town. I know nothing about that other than old black and white Universal horror films.
He was just outside Starbucks with his daughter and son-in-law as he ignored what they were saying and turned his head away from them and lifted his chin.
They were headed to the front door of Starbucks when the patriarch balked like a plow horse. He jerked his head and sat down as though staking a claim of some sort.
I couldn't hear.
The trio was just outside the window.
The daughter was--it seemed--pleading.
Papa couldn't be bothered.
Her husband kept a wary distance, the way a hound does when the family cat has scored his nose with claws a time or two.
After the abject begging satisfied his pride the craggy old fellow reached into his very deep pocket and extracted a bulk wad of cash like a month's load of tiny laundry.
He peeled two bills and made his daughter reach for them at a stretch.
I couldn't take my eyes away from this tableau.
Minutes later, the couple were inside arguing in a peculiar language which seemed after a bit to change into other dialects!
My mind flashed: "Is this how every minute of their life is constructed? How can they stand it?"
But then--shamed by my own "white privilege" and stone ignorant conjectures, I withdrew my guesses and forced a blank slate.
Once back outside, holding the old man's coffee in front of him, the Patriarch ignored her just long enough to make her look foolish before snatching it out of her hand and gesturing contemptuously for his change.
I didn't actually KNOW what was happening for sure. I didn't like what it LOOKED like: a bully signifying his power and status.
The young lady continued talking non-stop, pausing only to flash photos of small children in front of her old man's face. He never once turned his gaze toward them...or her.
The cold rudeness drove me to put the whole thing out of my concern and I went back to what I was writing.
That was 2 days ago.
Today, the Elder Gypsy and his daughter were back. Both outside on the patio. No son-in-law in sight.
I paid little mind to them as I could manage. Been there, done that!
After a bit, the wind died and I abandoned the table inside by the window and exited. My usual table was taken. Only one table remained. I eased into the seat and set up my laptop.
I was facing in the direction of you-know-who. Every once and awhile, I glanced up. I had my earphones in and couldn't hear.
At one moment my eyes caught his glance and I suppose I glowered. My bad. His eyes were, as Robert Shaw said of the Great White's eyes in JAWS, "Cold and dead...like a doll's eyes."
Eventually, the two of them got up to leave. He fumbled his cane and his daughter quickly fetched it for him. It was much practiced and fluid with grace.
She headed for their vehicle. The patriarch with his shark eyes and black hat with glimmering silver band changed course and suddenly stood in front of my table.
He lifted the tip of his cane and tapped it on the edge of my table. His lips moved. I heard not a word as I'd been listening to Mahler's 2nd.
Yes, I was slightly startled and curious and maybe even amused at this unlikely confrontation.
I pulled one earphone out of my head and squinted at his weathered face inquisitively.
His daughter stood clear over by the car. I swung my head in her direction just as she spoke.
"He's just being sarcastic."
I heard him speak the same sentence several times. Each word corresponded with a cane tap on the symbol imprinted on my table's edge.
He sounded like Bela Lugosi as Dracula.
"Are you disabled? Are you disabled? Are you---?"
I tightened my brain down in analysis mode and the little bell went off.
I finally "got" what he was on about.
He was busting me for sitting at a table with a handicapped logo.
He was challenging me; calling me out.
Now he had already quitted another table which had not been handicap only. So, it wasn't as though it were something personal to his needs.
It was a show of force.
In my heart, I knew I had indeed sat at a handicap only table without even a moment's hesitation. And yet--it wasn't going to be THIS goober who would get me to move.
I didn't say a word to him. I watched him with bemusement like you'd watch a fat kid trying to chin himself in P.E.
I cocked my head a little and lifted my index finger to the side of my head and drew an airy circle round and round and round.
He promptly pivoted and departed.
Weird it was.
My first impulse was to stand and wave him into my chair with a curtsy.
That would be overt smartassery and an insult.
Give me a gold star. I didn't.
I can't help but wonder what the old fellow expected me to do?
A bit of self-analysis tells me my reason for my own reaction was complicated
arguably occupying the low ground in his own family.
I can't be sure.
I'm not saying I was right, only that I wasn't completely wrong.