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Friday, June 25, 2010

Good Thing They Didn't Call My Bluff

You see what we got here? We got ourselves another Friday! Another opportunity at weekend greatness.

But wait! What's in store for us? If only we knew... If only we had some way of divining...

But we do! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, for your amusement, your foray into silliness, your mocking-Pearl-pleasure, my iPod.

Because everyone knows that the songs played during my morning's commute are a portal into the future.

The Trapeze Swinger by Iron and Wine
Honky Tonkin’ by Hank Williams
Jungle Love by Morris Day and the Time
New Song by Nomo
Skinny Love by Bon Iver
Senor Blues by Taj Mahal
Whipping Post by The Allman Brothers

Well if that don't scare ya straight, I don't know what will.

Time for a story?

I’ve never been a pacifist.

But I’ve known a couple.

Interesting breed, the true pacifist: they truly believe that things can be talked through; and while I believe that talking should be the first thing done, I also believe that some people enjoy the fact that you won’t fight back.

Enter my friend Steve.

Steve and I have been friends for 30 years now. We’ve known each other for so long that, in a fit of brotherly love, we declared, at the ripe and drunken age of 21, that if we were not married by 40, we would marry each other.

Of course, on our 40th birthdays, we modified that to 80. No point in pushing that brotherly love thing.

Steve and I have shared living quarters – platonically – a number of times. The first time was in a two-bedroom apartment in Anoka, Minnesota (self-proclaimed “Halloween Capital of the World”). It took a couple months to discover that not only was Anoka a rough-edged and intolerant little town but that we were the only ones in a complex of eight actually paying for our apartment – everyone else were living by the good graces of the State of Minnesota.

The living room overlooked the parking lot, a vista on to permanently parked cars on cinder blocks and small groups of people gathered around hibachi grills, quaffing one beer after another and crushing them against their foreheads.

And so it was, one afternoon, heading out the door to my second-shift job, that I looked out the living room window and saw Steve being pushed by two men, one vicious poke in the chest at a time, up against the brick apartment building on the other side of the lot.

Have I described Steve to you? At 5’10” and perhaps 150 pounds, he is a long-haired hippie-type, a mischievous man who once “punished” me for being crabby by holding me down and making me watch part of “Apocalypse Now” (a movie that disturbs me greatly), a man who has never been in a fight – no, let's be clear. Not a man who has never been in a fight, a man who won’t fight.

Steve is one of those rare individuals who truly believes in the Brotherhood of Man, a man who will give you his coat in cold weather, a man who would give you his last dollar.

In other words, Steve is bait for a certain kind of person.

So when I looked out the window and saw him, his hands up in supplication, his lips moving, talking while being pushed backwards, I knew that the two flannel-clad, “this-face-seats-one”-hatted men who had singled him out were having fun and were looking forward to hurting the hippie.

The next stop would be a fist fight – one that Steve would not take part in, even in self-defense.

I slipped my heels on and flew down the steps, out into the parking lot. Steve’s face changed from one trying to talk his way out of a fight to one of relief.

I was yelling angrily as I approached. “Hey! Hey! Get away from him!”

They stopped and turned.

“What’s it to you? Get outta here,” one of them said.

“What’s it to me? To me?! This guy won’t fight back, but I will. You want a fight? Huh? You want to pick on someone smaller than you? Well here I am.”

“You think I won’t hit a girl?"

“Oh, I’m betting you will. Come on, you @#$!&. I’m giving you one shot and then I’m gonna kick your ass from one end of this parking lot to another.”

It was quiet as Steve moved away from the wall.

“You ready?” I challenged. “’Cause your friend here is next.”

These poor guys. I could see that they weren’t very bright. I could see that I, in a skirt and a pair of heels, was confusing them.

“That’s what I thought,” I sneered. “Couple of pusses. Get out of here before I call the cops.”

I turned.

“Steve,” I said. “Go on now.”

Steve walked, unchallenged, toward the house. “Thanks,” he whispered.

I turned back toward the two. “I’m going in the house,” I said. “If I see you back in this parking lot – ever – I’m calling the cops; and you’ll excuse me for saying so, but neither of you look like you want to talk to the police.”

I turned around, shaking with adrenalin and fear, and walked back to the apartment building; and in a show of foolish bravado specific to someone 24 years old, stubbornly kept my back to them.

When I got to my apartment and looked out the living room window, they were gone.

We laugh about it to this day, Steve and I, wondering what would’ve happened had one of them taken that free shot I had offered.

Because I’ve never been in a fight a day in my life.


erin said...

I love this post! I have a big mouth but I think I might just be a pacifist the same as Steve.

Good thing Jeremiah is a knock out drag down scrapper there to back up my big mouth! haha

Tail-Kinker said...

Loved this story too! That's the great thing about brains & using them to bluff--it beats pure brawn & bully everytime.

Draea Lael (Rose) said...

I have always been the mediator. I HATE HATE confrontation, I would rather it not happen, but if it does...and I have a stake in it...watch out, cuz I can wordpunch with the best of them. I like to think I could hold my own if I had to defend myself...
I have never been in a fight, I have only been hit in the face once...and it was by a 17 yr old male student. I don't remember much after being hit, I was in such a state of shock.
Unfortunately for him, he hit me at a pep rally in front of the football team...2/3 of which were my boys.
Thank goodness for thug cousins. At least I know that if he had tried to argue with me I would've won >.>

Anonymous said...

Oh Pearlie - I am so proud of you! Loved the story and love your backbone. Youthful bravado indeed, but I'll bet you'd do it again today if provoked. Feisty is forever. All your friends, especially Steve, are lucky indeed.
Yankee Gal

Sweet Cheeks said...

I think we all have a little bit of Clint Eastwood hidden inside ourselves for occasions such as that one, Pearly Girly.


Jon said...

Hmmm... You're never really 40 are you?

You got to watch them pacifists in the rough. Just look at Ghandi - right sod when he'd got a couple of pints inside him.

The Retired One said...

And, I don't EVER want you to get mad at ME!!!
Us Northern Girls gotta stick together...I mean if we can fight foot after foot of snow and shards of winter ice without blinking a frozen eyelash, why NOT a couple of hoodlums???

Gigi said...

Pearl - you ROCK!!! I too have never been in a fight - it's not lady-like ya' know - but I've been known to stand up to a few thugs in my day. Usually, that's what it takes with bullies....having someone smarter than them to stand up to 'em.

Douglas said...

I have often talked my way out of fights. But I learned something from a friend of mine when I was 15. Be willing, even happy, to fight. He, the friend, would get into an altercation with someone inside an arcade or pool hall. His opponent would invite him outside to "settle this" and he would just smile (not in a friendly way) and reply quite calmly:

"What's wrong with right here?"

It was a valuable lesson.

Cheeseboy said...

I really do believe with all that adrenaline running through your veins, you really would have decapitated the both of them.

Love Bon Iver, especially his Emma album, but I could never get into Iron and Wine, and believe me, I've tried.

Tempo said...

you are SO full of surprises Pearl...This is a great story

rakkasa said...


WrathofDawn said...

We are evil twins separated at birth. I have frightened 6' tall men. I am 5'2". Normally, i'm all peace-love-dove, man, but I just can't stand to see someone bullied. It really makes me crazy.

I guess everyone's afraid of crazy no matter how small package it comes in..

Ruthibelle said...

lmao --- too funny!!!