“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt” – Abraham Lincoln (Well, his version of Proverbs).
So I proved that I’m still a fool this week. Not mature yet. Not grown-up or wise or even very smart at all.
I was bouldering at The Ridiculous Boulders, in Alton Baker Park. I had 20 minutes to spare on my way home from work.
The sun was slanting through the trees and it was relatively warm for late October.
I warmed up for one minute, climbed two routes, and took my shirt off. Let the sun hit my pale, late-fall skin.
There was a large group of young homeless men drinking malt liquor out of 24-cans in the shelter nearby. I could hear them whistling and yelling, but it didn’t register that they were yelling at me. Whistling at me.
I climbed a third route, a low, slow, hard traverse.
When I stood up, I realized they’d been yelling at me the whole time.
Then I heard one of them say, “Put your shirt back on.” Very clear.
I’d had a long day at work. I needed my twenty minutes of bouldering time. Alone. I didn’t want to be bothered.
I opened my mouth and said, “Why don’t you come over here and make me put my shirt back on.”
The whole park got quiet. Even the ducks and geese stopped scratching. The crows cocked their heads to the side. Not a single dog barked.
And I thought, ‘What am I going to do if that guy comes over? Am I going to fight a homeless guy in a park? Am I going to actually fight a homeless guy over what he said to me while he was drunk? Or what if they all come over, am I going to fight a group of drunk, homeless guys in Alton Baker park because I don’t like to be whistled at or told what to do?’
To say it wrecked my session is an understatement.
Nothing happened. They didn’t come over.
I tried to get back to bouldering, enjoying my last 12 minutes, but I couldn’t. I kept thinking about those guys sitting there, watching me, drinking Four Loko, thinking about what I just said.
Three minutes later, I took off my shoes and left.