What’s wrong with the girl who kicked at a pigeon?
A group of teenage girls were walking down the street. It was an early afternoon in the late spring. A couple of city pigeons were picking up pizza crust scraps on the sidewalk in front of a neighborhood pizza place. An ordinary pleasant day in a relatively quiet street in Upper East Side.
As they pass by a girl in a plaid skirt kicked at a pigeon. The pigeon trotted away. “What’s wrong with you?” “Gross!” other girls said. The girl who kicked at the pigeon didn’t say anything. They walked on, talking as ordinary teenage girls did. Nothing noteworthy happened. Just another day in their teenage life.
It was a five second clip too familiar for me not to pick up from the cutting room floor. It was the nonchalant way the girl kicked at the pigeon that caught my attention.
I was the girl who kicked at pigeons.
When I saw a yellow fluffy dandelion flower on the sidewalk, I stepped on it to squash with the heel of black pumps. My friend said, “What’s wrong with you?”
I tell you what’s wrong. That’s how the girl is treated in her family. That’s how she has learned to treat herself. It’s so natural that she doesn’t even think something is wrong with the way she reacts to the sight of pigeon, a vulnerable and unimportant creature just doing what pigeons do. Nobody cares.
The sight of innocent and vulnerable creatures like pigeons and dandelions exposed and defenseless made me feel uneasy. It’s dangerous to be innocent and vulnerable in the open without fangs and claws to fight back. I can’t tolerate the prospect of the pigeon-dandelion being attacked, being kicked, being squashed. So I will be the one who kicks and squashes, so that I don’t have to feel my vulnerability.
I hope the girl who kicked at a pigeon will learn what is wrong is the way she has been treated.
And dandelions are not vulnerable.