Today my dad came over for dinner. When he arrived, there was a homeless guy on the corner drinking something out of a brown paper bag. I let pop in and was looking out the window that faces the street when I heard glass break. There was a petite woman and a small boy (maybe three) standing just in front of the guy, and he was sort of swaying around them.

The woman began, shocked, “What the fuck? Who do you think you are?” He advanced towards them, and the lady then picked up her son’s scooter and held it at arms’ length. “Do you realize you’re threatening his life? He’s a little boy! He’s my son! Who the FUCK do you think you are?” Guy seems a little taken aback, and at this point, Mom is more than a little agitated.

The man looks menacing, he’s very tall. He keeps throwing his arms open and sort of lunging towards the two.

I yell out the window, “Leave her alone, I’m calling the police,” and move to grab my phone.

My dad starts saying that she’s hysterical, probably no reason for that kind of yelling.

“He threw a glass bottle at her kid, Dad! What do you expect her to do?”

My dad seems skeptical that the man threw a bottle at them. I know that, in my father’s mind, this woman is like any other, prone to fits of hysterics for no good reason, likely to need some mild sedatives in order to function in a way he finds acceptable. And I’m enraged.

Outside, my downstairs neighbors (both big, healthy guys) are coming out too, and start walking over to the scene. The woman is waving the scooter at the man, and screaming, “I’ll fucking KILL you! I’ll KILL you! Threaten my son?” They reposition, dance around each other. I think of the stories about women lifting cars to free their trapped children, and I think of bears.

For a moment, he walks away, out of my range of vision. She puts the scooter down. Then he comes charging back out of nowhere, and I’m sure he’ll knock her down. But super adrena-mom has her weapon ready and poised by the time he reaches her, and now he sees the three of us advancing towards them, over her shoulder. He retreats to the boardwalk while we phone the police, where he taunts her by dancing around, and flipping her off.

Turns out this is not the first time that particular guy had stopped her and her son for change, and gotten beligerent when denied.

She comes onto our patio to wait for the police. I bring her a glass of water, and some bubbles for her son to play with.

He has said not one word this entire time.

“Do you like bubbles?” I ask him.

He glances at his mother for approval first. She opens them and blows some for him, saying, “Look, baby, bubbles!”

Seeming a little distant, he looks on and whispers, “I’m sorry we came down that street.”

I tell her my name and point to my open door, in case she needs anything.

Inside, my dad has unpacked the dinner he brought over for us. Some linguine with clams and calamari, and a tray of plump little ravioli. Frappuccinos to drink. I say, “Poor kid.”

“Yes,” my father agrees. “All that screaming from his mother is sure to traumatize him.”

I bite my tongue and let the little ball of anger in my stomach grow. Sometimes, when we see people rarely, we just really want that time together to stay special. It almost seems worth it ignoring the things that are imperfect, even painful. But what kind of relationship does that leave? All surface talk and inoffensive (at least for my part) banter. I guess I could also call it choosing my battles, because I am not always such a quiet little mouse.

Did I mention I am SO over Venice? Westside Rentals, here I come.