Friday, May 27, 2011

He Asked, No, Demanded I Punch Him

I feel relatively safe in Chicago. I bike under the assumption that no driver wants to
  • dig me out of their grill
  • wrench my bike out of their axle
  • go to jail
... but I still wear my helmet.

I also don't worry too much about the occasional gangland executions in earshot of my apartment. While I know these events make everyone less safe, not being in a gang myself, I'm less likely to get shot in a gang war.

Even so, I don't leave the house at these times (well, mostly. I did step out with my roommate the first time, but that's because I wanted to make sure she would be ok).

I'm worldly enough to know, and this is partly from watching No Country for Old Men a few too many times, that violence is partly random.

And looking sad at it won't make it stop

So I work out, study the martial arts and have developed a disdain for those who would hurt me or others. I wouldn't say this disdain has reached a crazy level, but one that I think has balance the fear I naturally have of being hurt with the anger that someone would try. Which, again, I don't think makes me crazy.

Being Rorschach makes me crazy.

So, like in Watchmen, I had an experience which amounted to, "he tried to [rob me]. I mean, can you believe it?" Ironically enough, it fell squarely into my passive, non-target defense style.

My wife and I were getting onto the train (Blue Line, if you're curious) and I had my yoga mat sticking out of the top of my backpack. I wasn't too worried about it, since it was fairly secured and I figured the kind of person who boosts your stuff on the train don't do yoga.

He's stressed out 'cuz he hasn't done no Savasana.

As I was getting onto the train, I felt my mat getting pulled up. I turned, my first thought being to apologize for bumping someone. My gaze was met with an angry look and that's when I pieced together what happened. I returned the look.

I guess the guy expected me to back down or something, which is why he got up in my... grill? Is that what the kids call it these days? Yes? Well, that's what he got up in and started asking me if I thought he was "rolling" one me, if I was (*ahem*) [screwing] with him and the like.

I assured him I wasn't screwing with him, but that's when he said something I didn't expect. He told me to "start swinging. Swing [insert nasty word here]! Swing!" I didn't, but I also didn't back down. At his behest, I let him on the train and assured a concern-expressing fellow passenger that I still had my wallet.

That fellow later congratulated me for handling the situation as well as I did.

The next day, my father (who was a police officer and works in a prison) explained the behavior as one of being tough and expecting me to apologize for the whole thing--I had no intention of being a bitch. This plays into Allie's surprise that he was, you know, asking a superhero to punch him.

Lucky for him my parents are alive.

Even if he had known all that, would he still have been all... fronting on me? Probably. It's like the King and Duke in Huckleberry Finn, or the guy in Sandman: Season of Mists, the one who says Hell is only possible to bear because someone else is punishing him: we can't forgive ourselves, and we meet that inability with anger.

I did that very thing this morning: I got angry because I felt like I ruined plans Allie and I had made. I didn't, but I got angry at myself, and by extension her, which exacerbated things. When I calmed down, I realized that this was the same thing that thug on the subway tried on me, and, like Roy Batty, maybe that's the reason I didn't hit him. Maybe I saw that, deep down, that thief and I are more similar than either of us would like to admit.

Though being like me would be trading up.

(PS: BATMAN, BLADE RUNNER and NO COUNTRY all in one post! Woo-hoo!)

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