*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
We've all seen the smug look on Will Smith's face as he walked back to his seat after "the slap."
Actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock at Sunday night’s Academy Awards after the comedian made a wisecrack about the actor's wife. They televised the incident in multiple countries to millions of people on live television.
The incident made me ask myself whether I'd ever experienced anything like that slap. After searching my memory banks for a few minutes, I realized I have.
I was eighteen years old, and my boyfriend had invited me to have dinner at his mother and stepfather's home. During dinner, my boyfriend said something that angered me, and I slapped him across the face at the dinner table with an open hand.
We were in full view of his mother, his stepfather, and his eight-year-old sister.
Everyone looked shocked, but no one said a word.
I can't even remember what he said that made me think slapping him would help, but I think it went something like this.
Around a week earlier, we had gone to an Independence Day parade. It was sweltering hot. I was sweating. I was unhappy, and I felt fat. Just as I thought the day couldn't get worse, a young woman walked up to my boyfriend and asked him to light his cigarette.
What I didn't know was that she was his ex-girlfriend. I think I found out during dinner, immediately preceding that unwarranted slap. My memory of that day has faded, and that's the closest I can come to guessing what provoked me.
It doesn't matter why I slapped my boyfriend. I was wrong, no matter what.
His family should have thrown me out of the house. Instead, everyone kept eating dinner as if nothing had happened.
I felt ashamed of myself. I felt embarrassed. Yet I didn't apologize, even though my boyfriend and his entire family deserved an apology.
When I see the smug and satisfied look on Will Smith's face as he strutted back to his seat after slapping Chris Rock in the face, I don't see a trace of the shame and embarrassment I felt after I slapped my boyfriend.
It's been years, and I am still ashamed of myself.
I doubt I'll ever forget the feeling; I doubt I'll ever be able to condone Smith's actions. Slapping someone isn't the answer, no matter how angry you are. It only makes the situation worse. Will Smith should have known that.
But what about the audience? Did they see the slap as a comedic moment, or as a violent act?
I don't know. But I know I didn't find the slap funny. It made me cringe.
I slapped my boyfriend in front of his entire family. Will Smith slapped Chris Rock in front of an international television audience. Who's the bigger idiot?
I'd like to think that I am, but I'm not so sure.