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Sunday, June 26, 2011

And to Think that I Don't Play Poker...

I’ve never been a pacifist.

But I’ve known a couple.

Interesting breed, the true pacifist: they 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 not only don’t understand it, but that they’ll 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 was Section 8 recipients.

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 parking 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.

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, asshole. 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.”

“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.

41 comments:

Silliyak said...

I bluff a lot. It helps that I'm not small. Just remember those videos of cats chasing bears etc. Attitude goes a long way.

Shelly said...

Way to go, Pearl!

alwaysinthebackrow said...

Great bluff. So do you think even bullies draw the line at taking on a tough-talking woman? I think most would. But in Anoka, you never know. I'm glad Steve could count on you!

Sioux said...

Maybe those guys knew what every high school kid knows: girls do not fight fair.

They were wise to back off and go slinking off to find someone else to bully...

mybabyjohn said...

Couldn't you have just called down to them and told them you had called the cops?

jabblog said...

Well done! Adrenalin can be relied on for some of the most stupid things we ever do in our lives;-)

jenny_o said...

The things we do when we are young!! Glad it turned out well for you and Steve.

From personal experience, I would say that this approach actually works better if you're female and on the small side. It genuinely confuses the big dumb ones.

Maybe he also thought your heels looked like pretty good weapons! Bravo for sticking up for a friend.

Esther Montgomery said...

Teamwork.

Esther

lunamother said...

Ha! I've done the same thing with similar results, including the "don't look back, keep your head high".
I know I'm not from Minnesota, but could I be part of your gang? :)

Ms Sparrow said...

I'm not surprised that you rushed to the defense of a friend like that. You've got a lot of heart, gal!

Eva Gallant said...

Way to go Pearl! You are something else!

Joyful Things said...

My heart was pounding just reading this. I waffled between Good for You! and What were you Thinking? but then I remembered "Women always protect their cubs"

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

You do have a lot of heart, and grit, along with those stylish high heels. I had no doubt this story would end well, though my brain kept saying, "You did WHAT?" You go, girl.

Linda O'Connell said...

You go girl. Bet you'd do the same thing today too! Maybe from the window.

Pat said...

Did I ever tell you you're my heeeerro?
So that's what they mean by power heels!

Lisa said...

I am not at all surprised that you're fierce. i want you on my side in any fight.

Leenie said...

Don't know about the parking lot bullies but you scared the hell out of me!

Bushman said...

Can you come deal with my crazy neighbors? It's not that I don't want to beat them it just I'm afraid i'll go too far besides I have a house to close on this Friday and I can't do it from jail. I say kudos to your friendship...it's why it works

Clipped Wings said...

What a brave little spitfire you are. Great post to read.

Audubon Ron said...

I'm a pacifist too. That's why a carry a loaded 38 in my truck. If you only knew how long it takes me to get my hair perfect, you would understand how reluctant I am to mess it up.

Happy Frog and I said...

I'm so glad it all worked out (I was reading this with my heart in my mouth). You are so brave and Steve was/is very lucky to have you as a friend.

aBroad said...

You are my hero, I love you !
And I love Steve too .. he needs all the love he can find ..

powdergirl said...

I love a nice dose of bravado, been known to toss it around a little meself : ) Its been very effective for me as well.
Good work, Pearly Girlie.

KleinsteMotte said...

Great post.

Anonymous said...

You, Madam, are a gutsy woman. Glad it worked.--vanilla

The Elephant's Child said...

Tears. Of pride and sorrow. Love that you stepped in for Steve. Not suprised that you did. Hate that it needed to be done. Thanks.

lime said...

what a great story. what a great friend to put your neck out like that. glad it worked out in your favor.

HermanTurnip said...

I'm wondering how long you guys managed to last at that Section 8 housing development? I think that I'd rather be living in a van down by the river than continue on in that building. *yikes!*

Daisy said...

Better to face a hungry grizzly than a mother cat protecting her young!

lisleman said...

"...hibachi grills, quaffing one beer after another and crushing them against their foreheads..." prehistoric tailgating

adrenalin - absolutely amazing stuff. I've heard of people lifting a car off someone in an emergency.

That Janie Girl said...

Screw my CCL certfication - I'm just gonna take you everywhere I go.

Okay?

KaLynn ("MiMi") said...

Any woman crazy enough to come to the aid of man, wearing a skirt and heels, that gets in their face, is plenty scary. They prolly thought you were really crazy!! As in certi-fi-ably! And crazy women do NOT need to be messed with.

You go!!

Jhon Baker said...

Strength is defined by what we risk for the right reasons - you have strength, true strength. I don't understand anyone who will allow themselves to be beaten to death - I practice non-violence but there comes a point in that where you must stand against your foe and clean a few clocks. I, with great sorrow, have had to do this more than once but I mostly have gotten out of it by being large and frightening looking but a big ol cuddly bear in reality. But like a bear - I will fuck your life up if it goes to far.
I am proud of you 24 year old bravado.

Roses said...

@Audubon Ron...you totally cracked me up.

As for you Ms Pearl...

Damn gurl, you got attitude! You rock!

Laoch of Chicago said...

I think you did a good thing and I, unlike your friend, certainly believe in fighting. Next time though, bring a weapon.

Tempo said...

Gotta love your bravado Pearl, like most bullies they only ever go for the one they KNOW wont fight back

Crystal Pistol said...

I am so very impressed with you, my brave Pearly friend! you are a Pearl after mine own heart. I would have done the self same thing. I too have never been in a fight. But I have run at "them" as if I might do bodily damage.

You crack me up, girly.

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Pearl! I'd have tried the same and shat myself. Being a tall, grumpy looking guy doesn't confuse morons. I'd have got the snot knocked out of me. Respect, ma'm'selle! Indigo x

the walking man said...

I'm just glad you weren't here in that situation.

WrathofDawn said...

We are twins separated at birth, Pearly. I have backed a 6-foot man into a corner with just the power of my bravado. I am 5'2" and was about 115 dripping wet at the time. I guess no one's too dumb to be afraid of crazy, even if it does come in a small package.

That said, I wouldn't want either of us to try this too many times. Eventually, we'd face someone even crazier... or armed.

Susan in the Boonies said...

Wow!!! You totally did what I think I maybe could do, if ever properly motivated. There have been moments in my life, when I felt the fire rise up in me, and in those moments, my own big talk scares me!