This evening I was walking on the sidewalk in front of the local supermarket and had one of those “After you Alfonse” moments with a woman coming the other way pushing a shopping cart. When we had successfully negotiated our polite way around each other she turned and said over her shoulder, “I should’ve run over your ass.”

Now this was a woman about thirty years of age who certainly should have – and did – know how to deal with an awkward situation and a geezer, obviously with one foot in the nursing home, who can’t get out of his own way. (That would be me.) She did it with aplomb, with a smile on her face, and then hurled this completely inappropriate missile at my back. It seemed to me that she had suddenly remembered that she wanted to present a hard image of herself, someone street smart and tough that no geezer should mess with.

I see this in my children, too, this bluff and buster as though they are ready to fight at the drop of a hat. I thought that it was just an artifact of adolescence. Maybe it is something that has crept into our society. Some insecurity that makes us try to show an impenetrable exterior to the world. To hide our fear behind a mask.

What do you think is going on?