I sat in my Intro to Film class next to my friend Josh and set in to listen to the lecture and enjoy the class as I always do. A shorter, darker kid sat next to me. Josh on my left, this kid on my right. The days lecture was on foreign film.
It became appearant very shortly into the class that this individual to my right had no sense of personal space. He repeatedly bumped me. With his knee, foot, elbow, arm, and seemingly anything else that can project from ones person. It was rather uncomfotable. I have what you might call a comfort "bubble", its a personal problem, I know, but the reality remains. I kept thinking, "Doesn't it bother this kid to bump me? For every action there is an equel and opposite reaction, he is feeling a bump as surly as I am every time he makes contact. I'm trying to focus, to take notes, isn't he trying to do the same thing? And doesn't all of this contact bother him as well?"
No, it seemed. No it didn't.
Two days ago, in a church leadership training meeting, I heard a talk about charity that reminded me how very uncharitable I am. Truly, I am grossly lacking in this virtue. I kept reminding myself of this, and that I should try to be charitable, give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe hes from a different country, and is not familiar with the American notion of personal space. He probably is from another country, I thought. He looks it, he sounds like it, and heaven knows he smells like it.
He won't stop moving his leg. Moving ones leg is normal when sitting down, it helps with circulation. But Don't do it when your knee is in full contact with the person next to you. And what is he drawing? It looks like something a third-grader would do.
The teacher continued the lecture with no notice of us.
"One of the greatest obstacles to appreciating foreign film is 'Xenophobia'. Does anybody know what Xenophobia is?"
"Fear of things that are different?"
"Yes, only not just fear, but hatred."
Man, would there be no end to this kid? I had my leg up rested on the knee of the other, clearly on my side of the arm rest, the unspoken dividing line in theater seating. Lines are no barrier for this kid, though, none whatever. He lifted his leg up to do the same thing as me, only mirrored. His knee bumped mine out of the way to take the space I had previously occupied.
"And as a wise man said, a barrier is not where a thing ends, but where something else begins."
Class break. Finally. I get up to get a drink, come back and sit down. "Josh", I says, "this kid next to me will not stop bumping me. If I am leaning your way, I'm sorry, but I'm trying to put some distance between me and the guy to my right."
"No, don't worry about it, I noticed he was kinda' spread out, too."
End break, and class begins again. Only no bumping boy!
"Maybe you got lucky" says Josh. "Your friend doesn't seem to be here."
But no such luck. A little bit into the class, he comes walking back with a bag of chips and a smoothie. We were sitting right in the front of the class, in the very middle. The instructor was standing immediately in front of us, and little bumper had to walk in front of him to get to where we were.
The teacher was mid sentance when bumper boy made his prime assault on my space. The (full) smoothie slipped from bumber boys hands as he tried to pick up his folder, and Pink Aloha Pinapple purree escaped from the broken styrofoam cup, gushing out onto the ground just in front of me. The teacher stopped talking for a moment, and then began again.
My shoes bore the scars of this attack, pink splotches all over them. For those of you who are not aware, I rather enjoy my shoes, I like thier shape, color, and overall departure from the rest of the clothes we wear. Its not a fetish thing, there is nothing strange or unhealthy about it. I just like my shoes. I like them clean. Which they no longer were.
I was wearing my Pumas, the pair that have an outer gray mesh, an interweaving latice of threads. That turns out to be a rather porous surface, and readily absorbed the pink contaminant.
This, you would think, should set me off. This, you would think, would send me into a tyrade. But no, not this time. Maybe there were some mental gymnastics going on behind my consciousness that did it, but somehow all this didn't even bother me. It was funny, really. I couldn't come up with this kind of scenario if I tried. It was comical.
Bumper boy did quickly appologize, not profusely, but an apology none the less. He didn't make any attempts to clean it up, either. There was a pool of pink slush that grew as it melted throughout the remainder of class.
Nor did he stop bumping. Strangely, and seemingly with no provocation, he turned and asked where I was from. "Phoenix Arizona." I replied. "You?"
"I am from the Himalayas. Nepal is my country."
For the rest of class we watched a handful of clips from various foreign films. But I correct myself, the teacher said we shouldn't call them that.
"The term 'Foreign' Film focuses on what is different about this genre, it focuses on what we tend to be afraid of. Rather, we will call them 'International' Films. This helps us focus on what is similar. Its not that we speak different languages thats important, but that we both use language."