On Friday morning, I woke up in Houston, more than a little addlepated and raspy from the first of what would be two consecutive nights of karaoke madness. I texted my wife to see how the kids were and how life as a single parent was treating her. Everything was fine, she said. Except that some dude had run over our children on his bicycle as my wife was unloading them from the minivan the previous evening.
The guy had been riding on the sidewalk (criminal!), when Cobra popped out from behind the garbage can, which had been on the curb for trash pickup. He plowed into Cobra, and she went down, taking her sister with her. Cobra ended up with a scraped elbow and a chipped tooth, and both the kids heard a lot of swear words that they had never heard before, at least not from their mom. Apparently she cussed the young man up one side and down the other.
"MotherFUCKER!" I croaked through my ravaged larynx. Then I texted her back: "MOTHERFUCKER." It was even less effective than the aloud version, despite being in all caps. I felt seething anger toward this asshole, and equally impotent tenderness toward my baby, especially after my wife texted a picture of Cobra bravely displaying her dinged tooth. I ranted to my roomie about how I would have wrapped that guy's bike around his neck if I had been there, and he agreed that that would have been the prudent course of action. But really...I don't know. What does one do in a situation like that? I don't think I would have traumatized my kids by doing anything more aggressive than yelling, even though I would have felt confident that the forces of righteousness would have empowered me to Hulk smash with impunity anyone who hurt my kids.
I mentioned the incident to several of my compatriots at the conference, and they all were enraged on my behalf. But what would any of us have done had we been there? Hard to say.