In the terms of a fight between two people, there are only two options to consider. The first option is the less attractive of the two, which is to lose and lose painfully. The second option of course is the more glorious of the two, which is to win. Fist against fist, skin against skin, two people enter the physical negotiation between them until only one of them stands at the end.
Beforehand, the other option is to walk away or talk this out as adults. But when it gets this far, adulthood has little to do with the options we choose.
I was about to take my first lesson in a true beating by a man much bigger than myself. I had failed in my attempt to negotiate a truce.
At first, I walked away but the further I moved from the problem, the more my blood began to boil. Pride took its turn with me. My ego shook as I began to feel shame.
I felt outrage. Meanwhile, all of this could have been forgotten and let go. I could have walked away. I could have accepted the interaction as poor timing.
We were two people, both of us made by the same creator and neither of us were at our best.
Had I been mature enough at the time and had I been able to understand this was a situation that should have been avoided; the night in question would have ended much differently. Instead, however, I missed a few hours of my life and woke up to my first moment of awareness while in a hospital on 34th street. Most of the rest is all a blur
The night began as simple as any other. There were no real differences. There was me and one of my friends. We had chosen to keep to ourselves that night for an upcoming business plan.
We went to the usual places. We found ourselves uptown and then eventually downtown at one of the usual stripper joints where the girls new us well enough to be kind but they were not kind enough to treat us for free.
I recall the feeling of humility. At the time, I was working a dead end job making a low-paying salary. I had a sales job earning a draw against my commission; only, there was no commission at the time so my draw was very low.
After a brief spike in sales, my customers dropped out on me. I was working at a trim company in the garment business. I was given a few small accounts with no big sales to report.
After knocking on door after door and sampling product after product, I earned my way through the door of a few production managers. The orders were decent. Some were larger than others but there were problems on the back-end. There were problems with shipping, which, of course, anyone that has ever dealt with shipping from factories overseas can understand this dilemma. Orders and quality was not always the same as what was promised. Put simply, my big orders stopped. I went from being treated like part of the family to being the hated stepchild.
Most of my friends were making more than me. Most were embarking on new things. Some were living in their new apartments in the city. Some were closing in on marriage with their beautiful girlfriends. Some were buying new cars. They were going on expensive vacations. They bought fancy clothes.
And me, hell, I struggled to buy my monthly train ticket. I tried to keep up but I struggled. I would be out on my last $20, but yet, I had to act like I had millions in my pocket. I hated this routine,
I knew I was faking it. So did everyone else. I felt myself slipping. I was losing to the voice of my ego. And ego is a bitch.
Ego stirs the pot. Ego is what causes me to act a certain way, to save face, or look cool.
On this night in particular; however, I was out with a friend to discuss a possible business venture, which, I knew I was not capable of doing.
I was fearful of the new ideas and fearful of the new position I would take. This meant I had to produce.
“But what if I can’t,” is what I was afraid of. Meanwhile, I was still playing the role. I said what I said to sound good. I said what I did to keep in character. I pretended, but in all honesty, I was petrified.
I was frightened to make the move and then find myself out of a job. And then what?
I was frightened to find myself out of friends. I was frightened to be found out. I was afraid to be discovered as a fraud. And what would I do then?
How would I show my face around my crew of friends?
Or, would I even still have the same crew of friends once they realized I was all talk and full of shit.
After over extending myself at the strip joint and after spending money on a girl I was trying to impress, who of course, was lying nearly as much as I was; I found myself at the diner with my friend.
We were going to talk business. We were going to act like adults now after behaving like crazy kids, reeking from a stripper’s perfume, and laughing about the lies we told.
We walked into a small diner somewhere near 23rd Street. We took our seat on the left wall. There were booths on the left and booths on the right with tables and chairs lined down the middle of the eatery.
The hour was late, which meant anyone at the diner during these hours were like my friend and me.
They were several hours into a long crazy night. Safe to say, I was the only sober person in the room.
Safe to say my radar picked up a problem as soon as we sat down.
Diagonally across from us on the right side of the room by the windows were four men, young like we were, drunk like my friend was, and louder than anyone else in the diner.
I stood to go to the back and head to the bathroom. One of the loud four commented to me. Shouting at me, “Give me one of those menus,” which were on one of the tables in the center of the diner.
For some reason, I did as he commanded.
I felt fear. I felt shame. I felt my ego stirring the pot. But more, I felt worse when I returned to my table because my friend (although unbeknownst to me) joked about the altercation.
I thought he was serious . . .
“Why didn’t you tell him to go fuck himself,” my friend laughed. He was poking me. Not seriously. But still. I took this seriously.
The four men continued to grow louder and louder. They were laughing at me. With this, plus all of my insecurities, plus all of my financial frustrations, plus my poor attempt at a love life; plus, always feeling like the girl I was with was never the girl I wanted (or truly deserved) plus, my fears of not being able to find the right job making the right money, or ever feeling comfortable in my skin —something snapped in me.
I went back to the bathroom because I recalled seeing a somewhat short, but thick, wooden rod used for the toilet plunger.
I recall thinking how this would hurt if it were landed across someone’s head. So, in true immature foolishness and with my ego cheering me on, I slid the wooden rood up my long sleeved, buttoned down shirt and went back to my table.
Of course, the four loud men were still at it. My friend, on the other hand, was very big and physically capable. I misinterpreted the problem.
I thought they were shouting at him. Meanwhile, they were apologizing. My friend stood and walked over to the table of four with angry intention, which was working.
Too bad I misinterpreted the situation. Walking around to be undetected by anyone, I slipped behind one of the four; it could have been either one. I didn’t care. I pulled the thick wooden rod from my sleeve, which felt like a small weighted baseball bat, and then I proceeded to crack it down on one of the four men’s head.
I knew this might not have been the best of ideas. I knew there was going to be an aftermath. I knew something awful was about to happen. But I thought something awful was going to happen to them.
But when the man I hit over the head stood up and turned around, I knew there was going to be a problem for me.
My friend tangled with one of the others. One man was screaming because the sound of my assault popped across the man’s head like a loud bang. The wood broke in half. I recall looking at the wooden rod, surprised that it snapped in half, and then my surprised increased when the man I hit stood up and turned to me.
could I say?
It wasn’t me?
I was standing there with a half broken piece of wood.
As quick as this happened, the man charged me to the floor, causing the back of my head to crack against the orange terracotta flooring.
I was told there was a halo of blood seeping out from the back of my head at least one foot in any direction. My friend picked me up and took me out. He placed me in a cab and we headed over to the hospital.
In my concern to secure what others think of me, I ruined several things on this occasion. Although the results were not as bad as they could have been; I did not have to go to jail nor was the back of my head stitched up in police custody, still, I sabotaged the business plan. I lost a group of friends over this. I found myself alone. I had a black eye and stitches in the back of my head. Although I was trying to overcome public humiliation and trying to overcome my fear of bullying; instead, i publicly humiliated myself and lost to the bully within my head.
I was somewhere around 26 at the time. I was uncomfortable and insecure. I was angry. I can recall entering the diner. I can remember the flashes of bullied memories and instances of public humiliation.
Mix this together with the list of insecurities and discomforts I mentioned beforehand and this is the result of insecure/depressive thinking.
This is what happens when the thought machine goes into alarm mode. We react in a way that does not reflect us at our best.
Quite the opposite, in fact, instead of me at my best, when I do not care for my thinking or care for myself, I respond in a way that reflects my thought. My behavior mirrors my feelings. I act out or react in a way that is self-destructive.
Years later, I am still friends with the person that was with me that night. We weren’t friends for a while until maturity set in for both of us.
We laugh about this sometimes. We laugh about the size of the man that stood up after i cracked him over the head. Turns out, I misjudged his size, which was somewhere over 6’4” as I was told.
I have a
scar in the back of my head. I touch it sometimes to remind me that violence is
a real thing and the ideas in our head often will not play out as we expected
I sometimes believe people have no understanding of what violence is. As a matter of fact, I have often and famously said the reason why people talk the way they do or treat people as they do is because they’ve never been punched in the face.
I still see it this way. I see it this way when I speak with young kids and listen to them talk about how they’ll handle the world. I think this way when I am in young people groups and hear the kids talk about how tough they are. I listen as they pose in their best gangster fashion; meanwhile, they’ve never been literally beaten up or physically punished. They talk of guns but never seen what a bullet does to life and the life of families.
They don’t realize that other people will not play by rules. In real life, no one cares if you are offended. We live in a “Me first,” and “First come, First serve,” world.
In the physical realm of hand to hand combat; there are no rules. The laws of engagement are very simple. When it comes to this, there is only win or lose. However Master Sun Tzu once wrote in “The art of War,” the fact that we could not negotiate our problems means we already lost. A true warrior should never have to fight.
Some people live their whole lives fighting a battle no one else knows anything about. As I see it, everyone has their own battles.
I know I have my own. It’s just that over the years, I grew tired of sustaining damage.
Therefore I had to learn how to fight from within. I had to learn how to strengthen my boundaries. I had to learn to stiffen my spine, stand up straight, and by all means; I learned that insecure thinking brings me to places I never wanted to be.I learned the man secure within himself is comfortable in any measure. This is the kind of warrior I want to be.
I learned to defend myself best by walking away. I don’t have to fight anymore. It doesn’t matter what anyone says. It only matters how I see myself. All else is just immaturity and insecurity.
Whenever I fought or found myself in an altercation; I realize most cases had less to do with the other party and more to do with me or my ego. And ego is a bitch . . .
It causes fights
It breaks up friendships
and in my case, it leaves a reminding scar on the back of my head, just in case I forget myself.