In My Own Backyard

January 25, 2007 § Leave a comment

We went to a recently re-opened diner in Bridgewater last week. It’s legendary for offering excellent diner food at ridiculous prices, but it was closed and up for sale in June, when we moved here, so when I noticed it was open again I was plum excited. Another place to eat! And it’s only 25 minutes away! Shucks, it’s almost like we’s livin’ the suburbs!

So we visited with the intention of reviewing the place. Our waitress was just perfect for the type of place it is, the food was tasty diner fare. But the whole time we were there, the couple who are the new owners were fighting.

He was sitting in the dining room when we got there, going through paper or something, and she emerged from the kitchen, and I couldn’t really tell what the fight was about, but it seems she was on the phone and he didn’t understand what the call was about, and he was furious. “Amway! It was just Amway! I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!” she kept whispering in this keening, placating tone.

Then he stormed off, and she was left sitting nervously at the table braiding and unbraiding her hair. Which was long, lank, and in her face; that is to say, worn in traditional battered-wife style. Her demeanor made me pretty nervous myself, though Richard didn’t notice anything unusual going on.

A few minutes before we left he heard the man snarl from the kitchen “I asked you a question.” but even then didn’t seem to realize why I was gulping down my food as quickly as possible.
The thing is, I know how difficult and stressful opening a new restaurant, or any small business, can be. It taxes any relationship, even strong, healthy ones. But how aggressively abusive can a relationship be before you can’t keep it disguised in a room full of customers? How can she stand not just the abuse, but the humiliation?

It still boggles the mind that a woman in Canada would stand for such treatment. My mother is a very strong woman, so I’ve never seen domestic abuse up-close, and perhaps I oversimplify things. But seriously. She’s an adult. Help is available. A woman is in the most danger from her partner in the weeks following her escape, but is living forever under conditions of known and inevitable danger truly better than living for a few weeks in possible danger?

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