Thursday, April 16, 2009

Run, Forrest, Run!

You'll Never Catch Him - Buffalo Tom (mp3)
Run Rabbit Run - Rob Zombie (mp3)

Recent events in my line of work have had me thinking about the violent tendencies of the youthful male. While it's clear I have the "self-bloodsucking" gene, I somehow fell out of line when it came time to hand out the Fighting gene.

Forthwith is my own brief historical experience with fighting.

My first foray into the world of pugilism did not come until I was in the seventh grade. Before that, I had several playground encounters where my smart-ass big mouth would piss a bigger kid off, and then I'd go running like the dickens until they got sick of chasing me. Running from larger kids, much like Indiana Jones running from that large boulder, inspires speed and endurance beyond what is normally possible.

The seventh grade fight involved four punches. I said something to piss off this guy Matthew, and he punched me in the chest. He swung at me a second time, and I started running (you'll probably notice a theme building). Unfortunately, this dude was a burgeoning track god, so he had little trouble catching me and forcing me to face him. We both flailed like only wimpy seventh-graders can, aiming anywhere and everywhere without discrimination, and a friend of ours screamed at us to stop because a teacher was coming. Both of us also being geeks not wanting trouble with The Man, we stopped immediately and parted ways. After I got around the corner and beyond the line of sight of the other students, I broke down into a fit of bawling. I had trouble catching my breath.

One of my friends came around and saw me crying and wanted to know where I'd been hit. He didn't believe me when I kept insisting that I wasn't hurt. Although physically unharmed, the mere act of trying to punch someone else, of someone else trying to punch me, broke my heart. But I didn't understand any of that at the time. I just knew I was unhurt but overwrought with knee-quaking sadness.

A similar fight sprang out between myself and a classmate and friend. We were in ninth grade. We attended the same elementary school for three grades, and he had witnessed me smarting off and fleeing many fights in his day. He was one of my better elementary school pals. By ninth grade, however, he had taken a more jock-ish path while I was destined to be cut from every team this side of basket-weaving. On this particular day, we were wrestling around, and wrestling just happened to be my sport... in that I served as the tackle dummy for many good wrestlers.

Enjoying my unusual advantage over this larger guy, I kinda abused him a little. The action got a little too intense, and it seems I accidentally kneed him in the balls (no, seriously, it was an accident). I tried apologizing, but he swung at me anyway. So guess what I did? Yup, I ran. I ran and ran, but the dude was in better shape than me, and he kept running, too, until I found myself cornered.

At that point, he took several swings at me, landing nothing serious, and I behaved much like a panicky cat, occasionally shoving out from the wall with my legs and ramming into him to push him away. He kept insisting that I come out from my "little rathole" and referred to me in numerous ways that might suggest I was not a real man. I kept insisting that he accept my damn apology and quit trying to beat the shit out of me, thus proving to all witnesses that such accusations of my not being a real man were well founded.

Finally, he gave up and walked away. Once he did, I broke down and cried. Yes, more crying. No physical wounds, no real reason to cry. Just difficulty breathing and a feeling like my heart was breaking. Except this time it was worse, because he had been a real friend, and the whole fight was due to my carelessness, and that fight signalled the official death of whatever friendship had remained. From then on, we were just classmates with a past who got along with one another.

My only other fight, in my entire life, was on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. My large group of friends were drunk and in a meat market dance club called Players. So were members of the UNC wrestling team. One of those dudes and one of our dudes had words. Both dudes agreed to take it outside. All their dudes and all our dudes followed. Once outside, their dude beat the ever-livin' shit out of our dude, and it wasn't even a contest. Unfortunately, their dude also pulled a Mike Tyson and started chewing on our dude's ear while choking him so intensely that our dude was turning the same color as Violet Beauregard in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."

Sincerely fearing for my dude's life, I screamed at their dude to stop and ran forward to break them up. From a direction I can't even describe or explain, something landed in my diaphragm with the force of a medicine ball and sent me reeling back into a storefront, collapsing in a heap to the pavement. Friends tell me 10 minutes passed before I was capable of speaking. I found out later that one of the other wrestling dudes had bum rushed me and landed a shoulder right in my mid-section at high speed -- what was he, four feet tall?? Mini-me?? -- sending me into the wall, where he then punched me in that same general area once, upon which I crumpled like Princess Leia in a garbage compactor. Although I can't be sure, I suspect the dude who KO'd me with one and a half punches cried after it was over, only because he'd picked the one dude who was completely incapable of even putting up anything resembling a fight.

Point is, I don't get fighting. Never have, and likely never will. If I ever say the words, "I'm a lover, not a fighter," it's not so much that I'm bragging about my amorous skills as a simple process of elimination.

The Buffalo Tom tune is off their latest awesome album,  Three Easy Pieces. Highly recommend it. It's available on eMusic, iTunes and Can't find the Rob Zombie tune anywhere.


Daisy said...

All of the men in my life fall into the lover rather than fighter category. This being said I am pretty sure all of them have been engaged in some sort of physical altercation (probably playing defense not offense) at least once. I know far more woman I would classify as fighters, but I'm pretty sure none of them has every swung a punch. So why is this? Nature or Nuture?

Anonymous said...

How come you've been in more fights than me? That makes no sense whatsoever.


The Big Nichols said...

I was in a Franklin St. bar once and got tossed for an almost-fight between a friend of mine and the entire UNC Lacrosse team. We didn't stand much of a chance but talked a big game on the way out.

Tockstar said...

Ah, the smart-ass comment/running away tactic. I used that a lot myself. Of course, I'm a girl, so it was a more widely accepted approach. :)

But seriously, girls don't fight because they suck at it. And I don't mean throwing wimpy punches, I mean we seem to lack the desire for physical retaliation. The punchee rarely punches back. I liked to make smart-ass comments to girls who were much bigger and meaner than me. They would inevitably hit me or push me down, but I only cared about the one-liner. I can't even tell you how many times I spit pea gravel out of my mouth and waited for my wind to come back while thinking, "Heck yeah, that'll learn her to mess with the likes of me."

strangers_have_the_best_candy said...

I truly enjoyed this post.
My first and only pathetic fight came in the a dorm that will remain nameless. My roommate and I scuffled and came to an agreement of battle. We met in the hall after study hall when an abnormally lazy ;)advisor was on duty. I ran at him with my head down. He holds his fist out and I run into it. I fall and break my wrist. I guess you can say I'm saving this story for the ladies.