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Thursday, July 18, 2013

You Think I Won't Punch You? Is That What You're Thinking?

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 there are some people that just plain enjoy the fact that the other person 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 living by the good graces of the State of Minnesota.

As a taxpayer, may I say "you're welcome".

The living room at the place in Anoka 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 in all its capitalized glory, 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 am yelling angrily as I approach. “Hey! Hey! Get away from him!”

They stop and turn.

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

“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?"

I snort.  “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 is quiet as Steve moves away from the wall.

“You ready?” I challenge. “’Cause I don't want to be late for work and your friend here is next.”

These poor guys. I can see that they aren't very bright. I can see that, in a skirt and a pair of heels, I am  confusing them.

But I don't feel too badly.  “That’s what I thought,” I sneer. “Couple of pusses. Get out of here before I call the cops.”

I turn.

“Steve,” I say. “Go on now.”

Steve walks, unchallenged, toward the house. “Thanks,” he whispers.

I turn back toward the two. “I’m going in the house,” I say, heart pounding. “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 turn around, shaking with adrenalin and fear, and walk back to the apartment building; and in a show of foolish bravado specific to someone 24 years old, stubbornly keep my back to them.

When I get to my apartment and look out the living room window, they are 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.


Simply Suthern said...

Yer awful fiesty. Good thing you have Ms. Bitey to take up your slack nowadays.

Pearl said...

:-) Simply, I've mellowed since. But not by much.

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

heeheehee! Oh, I love ya, Pearlie. Awesome

Indigo Roth said...

Hey Pearl! As Dreamboat Charlie once said "I'm attracted to women I wouldn't necessarily beat in a fight" =D

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Never mind brotherly love - your the sister many would love to have!!! I must say, when one sees something/one under threat and for which/whom one cares, it is surprising what adrenaline will do to the minimal amount of testosterone in the female mix...

Fortunately I am short enough for such ignoramuses to realise that I might actually represent danger. If you catch my drift. &*>

Sioux said...

Pearl--The Not Your Mother's Book series is looking for first time stories. Don't you have a first time story about the first time you barked but didn't have to bite? If your story is published, you could choose "royalties" as payment or 10 copies of the book. You could at least use the books as weapons to hurl at any idiot stupid enough to mess with Pearl...

purplestarr said...

I'm 5'2" with a baby face and have confused a decent amount of bullies by standing up to them. They also got that confused look on their face. I think I was probably lucky none of them were real psychos.

vanilla said...

Yes, yes you have been in a fight, and you won it hands down!

Courage triumphs, cowards cower.

(But don't be doing that again.)

Rose said...

AHH! Hahaha! Nicely done. Makes me want to go fight someone! ;)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Atta girl!

Anonymous said...

You're the kind of gal I'd want beside me in a dark alley.....

Joanne Noragon said...

You and my sister. She's never had to back it up with a round house punch, but she would. Well, back then, anyway. Good job, both of you.

jenny_o said...

Perhaps they feared being beaten with your pumps?

I love this story. It makes me wonder what I'd do if I was in that position. I hope I'd be half as brave, at least. Good going!

Gigi said...

With bullies, usually a bit of bravado from someone they least expect is enough. Usually.

Merlesworld said...

Good for you what a great story, bullies are usually cowards in big smelly bodies.

jazzygal said...

Good for you! You're a true friend. I simply had to read to the end to see what happened!

(Just visiting via Shelly's wonderful blog :-)

xx Jazzy

mapstew said...

I KNEW you were IRISH! :¬)


Rose L said...

Spunky little thing, aren't you?!

HermanTurnip said...


Yeah, I've been there too, but it's tough to be platonic when you've just a double bed and a single bathroom. Ahh....those were the days ;-)

Geo. said...

Brave Pearl! I've called you that before, even before I knew of this anecdote. There's an unimpeachable spunkiness that come through your writing.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Feisty little thing, aren't ya? Good for you. Every pacifist needs someone like you to stand up for him.

River said...

I've felt that adrenalin based fear a time or two, it's scary. I'm not a fighter either, I'll run a mile to avoid confrontation.

Mitchell is Moving said...

Oh, I had a sister like you. She was 5'11, however, and she did punch a couple of kids on my behalf when we were growing up. I'd stand (I mean, hide) behind you any day.

TexWisGirl said...

tough woman. :)

goatman said...

As a registered and documented person who refuses to kill for our government (Nam era), I really identify with Steve. Doesn't mean I won't fight or shoot the sucker in the foot if I have to -- and had a gun, which I don't. Just not endit for them. Not my job!

tiffany rose said...

You are my hero, Pearl!

Daisy said...

Steve has a good friend in you, Pearl. He's a lucky guy! :-)