The Reluctant (almost) Pugilist

The last fight I had was 25 years ago.

It was one of those bar room, table clearing kind of fights. For the record, those are a lot less cool than they’re presented in movies.

A friend had gone to request a song from the DJ and either he didn’t like the request or my friend said something snarky (probably the latter). The DJ punched him. Having been the only one who saw it, I ran up to avenge his masculinity and assert mine…and then the rest of our table followed suit…as did the DJ’s posse.

Name calling led to shoving which led to fisticuffs. And like most fights, it was a fueled more by testosterone and beer than injustice and logic.

Eventually, we made it outside and were told the police had been called. Naturally, we did what any relatively intoxicated person would have done, waved our middle fingers, cursed a lot, then left.

While I recall getting as good as I gave, no one “won” the fight. No one ever wins a fight (or war for that matter).

Days after that fight 25 years ago, I realized adult pugilism, outside of some sort of sanctioned event, is pretty stupid.

Apparently Williamsburg is evolving into one of those sanctioned events for me. I have almost come to blows twice in as many months. That wouldn’t be alarming if I were a mouthy,  street fighting kind of guy, but I’m not.

The first almost fight took place at 11pm on a Saturday after seeing a movie with the wife (sadly, I can’t recall the movie). We stopped at the deli to get some ice cream.  About five drunk twenty something, bottom feeding investment bankers or hedge fund twats came in (seriously, who else could be so douchey at 11pm on a Saturday…in a deli).

I’m not entirely sure what transpired but by the time I made my ice cream selection (chocolate chip cookie dough) and got to the counter to pay, one of the drunk fluck-tards was being a little too snarky and disrespectful towards my lady. Not in a lewd way, just moronic and idiotic.

So I told him to shut up.

OK, I stared him down and told him to “Shut the fluck up.”

I know enough about my tone to know that when I am angry like that, regardless of what I say, it usually has one of two results. People either clam up and mutter away or they continue on. This kid continued on.

With my back to this idiot while I paid, he drunkenly blathered on and on in defense of his generation, even going so far as to insinuate that the wife would walk in to the deli and take a machine gun out and spray his kind (not a bad idea overall, but unlikely).

I kept re-iterating my request, increasing in volume and periodically injecting a “please”, but never deviating from “Shut the fluck up”.

Appropriately, he slurred some sort of sarcastic request for me to calm down; but in situations where you’re that angry, telling someone to calm down has the exact opposite effect. When will people learn that?

Finally, I had had enough and turned to look at him and began plotting a path, around the rack of Doritos, to silence this twit.

Somehow, the wife sensed this and grabbed my forearm and said “It’s not worth it” and the clerk gave me my change and apologized profusely.

I mumbled something about it not being his fault and we left.

Fight averted.

This past Sunday was incident number two.

Navigating our neighborhood on the weekend has become somewhat like getting around in Shanghai during peak business hours. Alright, that’s a gross exaggeration…but it’s bad.

shop_domino_01As if local residents needed another reason to hate Two Trees Management and the Walentas, the morons behind this visual and cultural abortion, they decided to open up the Domino Sugar building for an exhibit by Kara Walker. No disrespect to the extraordinarily talented Miss Walker, but…really?

Suffice it to say, the nabe has become increasing congested and even more irritating.

The wife and I were rounding the corner on our block. I was weighted down with 30 lbs of bags on my left shoulder and in my left hand with the tethered 70lb muzzled beast in my right hand.

We were about twenty yards from our building and I was navigating the sidewalk between people with the same deftness Steve McQueen navigated San Francisco in the car chase from “Bullit”.

Suddenly, we spy a dog not on a leash. Now, this is a particular irritant because Rufus just isn’t good with other dogs, aside from the Rubes. I stop while the wife gets about 15 paces up in front of me and asks the owner, a guy about our age, to put the dog on a leash. Well, maybe ask is a bit of a stretch…assertively requested that he put the dog on a leash, it’s the law, etc.

The guy was exceptionally slow to respond to her requests. In fact, from where I stood, he seemed to want to negotiate her tone more than corral his puppy.

Rufus was getting anxious. I was getting pissed.

I wanted to explain to the flip-flop, t-shirt and jean wearing artisan (or whatever) that this was Brooklyn and not Berkley. Expressing discontent at someones tone and delivery certainly has a place and is worthy of discussion…most of the time. But maybe on a jam-packed sidewalk with an untethered puppy running amok isn’t the best place.

Being weighted down with the packages and with Rufus who was becoming more “animated” as the wayward canine approached, I loudly asked the guy to put his dog on a leash.

OK, so I shouted at him to “Put the flucking dog on a leash!”

As the little puppy got closer, I re-iterated my request…same verbiage, a little more forcefully.

The wife said she saw Berkley man’s vein pop out as he asked me not to yell. And, in all fairness, he did ask…I mean, he didn’t say please, but I was in a mood where please wouldn’t have lessened my annoyance.

Just as he and I were making preliminary war eye contact, a young woman behind me shouted for the guy to put his dog on a leash. Welcomed support from a passerby.

He then does that testosterone addled half crucifix gesture, arms outstretched at 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock with palms facing upward. Pretty much the universally excepted invitation to fight.

I can’t recall if he said it or I said it, but one of us said “Oh, you wanna go?”

Now, people are walking around Rufus and I like water goes around a rock, I’m weighted down with packages and holding a dog whose anxiety level is beginning to peak. As the guy walked towards me there were about ten seconds where I genuinely thought this guy was gonna take a swing at me.

He would have had a clean shot too, my hands were full.

As the puppy came up, and Rufus went nuts, I yanked him back forcefully just as the guy got within striking distance. It was at that exact moment he finally realized why we were so adamant about putting his puppy on a leash. I think I actually saw the light bulb go off as he reached down to sweep up his pooch.

For the record, Rufus is not an aggressive dog. He’s just really anxious around strangers and he’s untested with dogs, other than Ruby, hence the muzzle.

For the record, I am not an aggressive male. I’m just really irritated by morons and should probably not be let out of the house anymore without a muzzle (or the human equivalent – Xanax).

We walked past Berkley guy to our building and as I passed we begrudgingly half apologized, making lame excuses for our testosterone infused idiocy. He was responding to being yelled at and we were tired, frustrated and irritated, etc.

In the wrong heads, and hands, that kind of combination can turn nuclear pretty quickly. Fortunately, this time it didn’t.

Fight averted.

Sometimes, loosing your temper is warranted (still never ideal, but we are only human after all). The trick is finding a more appropriate way to express your frustration and anger. Shouting expletives doesn’t always yield the best results, however warranted they may be.

About an hour later I saw Berkley guy again. I suspect he felt just as awkward and ashamed about our behavior as I did. We nodded to one another, smiled and kind of shook our heads.

But, his dog was on a leash.