Been meaning to blog about a slice-o-life snapshot I encountered Friday afternoon coming back from grocery getting at the Vons at Virgil and Sunset just south of Los Feliz Village. After exiting the market’s parking lot I headed south on Virgil to Fountain where I got in the left turn lane and waited for the light to change. Crossing in the crosswalk in front of me were two boys… maybe friends, maybe brothers. If I had to guesstimate their ages I’d put them somewhere near 10.

The bigger of the two — a full head taller than the smaller one — was purposefully but lazily swinging a plastic bag with something in it and it would clip the littler one in the head or neck not too hard and he would then bat at it in resigned aggravation.

So they pass in front of my truck doing this and I’m just panning my head to the left and staring at them bemused as the older clops the younger upside the ear. Just as they clear the front of the pick-up the older kid looks past his target and sees me watching. Dang if this tot doesn’t aggressively match my stare and watch me watch him all the way across the rest of the street where he steps up onto the curb and catches me offguard by fully stopping and facing me and raising both arms up with a shrug and textbook “What!?” Good lord the kiddie was calling me out.

The mistake I make is to respond to this by laughing my ass off in half-shock because in the wake of being so undeniably dissed this pisses the gangbanger-in-training off even more and he cranks it up a notch with the yelling and gesticulating. I couldn’t hear him specifically through the closed driver side window with The Clash’s “Clampdown,” blasting from the speakers but it wasn’t a stretch reading his lips and finding the words “fuck” and “you” and “pussy” and “bitch” spewing at me from out of his prepubescent piehole. I’ll confess to a couple dozen hackles raising and me briefly entertaining the thought of pulling the parking brake and stepping out of the cab to chase this pint-sized punk back in the general direction of his foster home, but common sense (aided by the quick consideration that one just never knows who might be packing what kind of caliber weapon in their SpongeBob backpack) led me to laugh even louder as the light turned green and I pulled forward into the intersection focusing my attention toward making a successful left onto Fountain.

Almost immediately away from the encounter the laughter fades, replaced by something of an ominous disappointment and sadness at this evidence that children who barely come up to my belt buckle can already be so hardened and so respectless and geared up to front and attack and potentially put themselves in harm’s way — or worse: to dispense harm — over nothing!