Let the record show that for 46 years yours truly carried himself through life without ever having to engage in fisticuffs of any kind. That is, until last night.
Girlfriend and I were walking home from dinner — and this is no lie — remarking on what a calm and pleasant Sunday we had just enjoyed. We happened upon the entrance of a mall connected to my condo, just as a security guard was escorting a very belligerent drunk out the door. In trying to shield my girlfriend from this person I somehow ended up blocking the entrance to the mall, engaged in a rapidly escalating shouting match.
That’s when the first punch came.
It didn’t connect, really. More or less grazed me on the cheek. But it sure didn’t help the situation. I wasn’t foolish enough to strike back, but the trash talk certainly went up a couple of notches. And if I’m honest I went too far. Something about AIDS? I can’t remember. Not one of my finest moments, to be sure. But I was angry and scared.
Other dude was just angry. So much so, apparently, that he circled back and followed us into the near-deserted mall for more. As good fortune would have it, the moment my girlfriend alerted me to his return we were walking past one of those “slippery when wet” sandwich boards on the floor. In retrospect it would have made a pretty good shield, and it was indeed a more-than adequate barrier as I repeatedly yelled at my attacker to back the fuck off. Unfortunately he wouldn’t, so I made the rather poor decision to try to whack him over the head with two slabs of cheap, surprisingly pliable plastic. That didn’t work at all, and at this point it was most definitely on.
That’s when the second punch came.
This one connected, thankfully in the wrong place. Had it hit my nose or jaw it could have done some real damage but instead it landed on my forehead, just above my brow line. It was quick and it stung — I was very clearly in a situation where I couldn’t win, so I buried my face in my hands, let him pin me against a wall and do his thing.
Funny thing is, nothing really hurt after that. In fact, I can distinctly remember thinking to myself “this isn’t so bad”. I don’t remember how I got the small gouge above my lip — hence the bloody Kleenex above — but I do remember having my head bit for some reason. That was weird. Anyway, at some point he decided that this was no longer fun for him and stormed off.
By the time my awesome girlfriend had dressed my wounds back at home the cops had finally showed up at the mall and apprehended the guy. I was invited to press charges but chose not to; head-biter had at this point been arrested for public drunkenness and would be spending the night in a holding cell. I really have no interest in going to court; that this person was off the street for the evening was good enough for me.
So on this, the morning after, you’d probably think that I’d be looking into a weapons permit or at least some kind of self-defence class. Nope. Last night taught me an important lesson: had I not “engaged” with this person I wouldn’t be writing this with a soon-to-be-purple bump on my forehead. I won’t ever condone physical violence, yet I can’t deny my own contribution to what happened last night.
Far as I know, the Dalai Lama has never gotten his head bitten into; I think he’s on to something there.