Getting Old: Fighting Edition

When I was a kid, I was quick to fight.  I didn't have issues at home or anything that led me to it, I just didn't see any problem with punching someone in the face to solve a dispute.  This led to me winning many fights.  I thought it was because I was so tough.  In hindsight I realize that human nature is to avoid physical confrontation, so the first person to throw the punch usually wins.  Neither of my parents gave the "If someone hits you, hit them back" speech.  It was more like, "Hit him before he hits you and hurts you" in our household.  We weren't allowed to fight each other, though; and I happen to have the most annoying brother ever,  so I guess I took my frustrations out on kids at the playground.

I was also always a bit stronger than my peers.  My baby fat had some muscle under it too.  I had a reputation as the twin that wasn't afraid to fight.  And I wasn't.  I once punched a kid in the face on the basketball court for trying to save the ball inbounds.  The ball hit me in the face.  What was I supposed to do?  Once a kid dipped my book bag in a puddle of rainwater in front of EVERYBODY at LUNCH.  Yeah.  Lunch.  You never show somebody up at lunch!  Everyone had already been making fun of me because I had my P.E. uniform on and it wasn't P.E. Why, you ask?  Because that day, our P.E. teacher told us we could play in our school clothes instead of our uniforms.  That was always fun because 1. you don't have to change clothes in the locker room (where people make fun of you if you forgot to wear lotion) and 2. you get an get an extra 10 minutes to play!  I loved playing.  I ran top speed to the basketball court.  I was so fast!  I don't know if I was looking ahead to the court or down at the ground but wherever I was looking, it wasn't at the volleyball net.

I ran smack into the volleyball net elbows and chin first!  I got clotheslined so hard that my feet were above my head in no time.  I landed on my back smack dab in a puddle of rain water.  You may remember this happening because apparently every person on earth started laughing at me.  There is no equal to the level of embarrassment I felt as I lay soaking in that puddle.  My school clothes were ruined.  I couldn't walk around with dirty rain water all over me, so I went to my locker and put on my P.E. uniform.  I can't believe I didn't cry.  I remember one kid telling me that my outfit looked better now.  Kids are mean.

So yeah; when that kid dipped my cheap and tattered book bag in that puddle and the earth's population laughed at me again, I snapped.  I could see my clothes through one of the holes in my bag (single mom couldn't afford good bags for us) getting more soaked as well.  So the fight was on.  I won.  In front of everyone.  I got suspended.  My mom was pissed.  She punished me and indoor suspension felt like it would never end.  I vowed not to fight in school again.

I didn't keep that vow.  I ended up fighting twice in school in half of a school year in Chicago.  My dad wasn't as angry about it.  I was considered a nerd (how dare I know how to read?!) from Miami.  They didn't think I was tough.  I didn't really get teased, but I could tell they thought I was soft.  No big deal.  Then I got into it with the oft-suspended troublemaker in class.  The nerd can fight!  I ended up fighting outside of school a few times as well.  I wasn't in a good place up there.

I went the rest of my childhood without a fight.  The next (and last) time I actually came to blows was in Turkey.  The day before I met Swedie some guys tried to throw one of our Air Force guys off of the top of a double decker bus.  We had to fight.  It was a safety issue!  We won so handily it was a bit scary.  I thought the police might get us.  I was an adult now.  Early 20s.  Though I still could handle my own, fighting carried consequences now.

Now I'm early 30s.  I'm still young.  I probably still have it.  I'm ready to fight at all times, right?  So I thought.  Just a few years ago in a club in Jersey two guys tried to gang up on my brother and I ran up and shoved both of them, ready to go.  In hindsight that was really stupid.  Luckily I chose the right guys to shove.  They both stumbled into the wall and one of them immediately began texting (not tough at all).  They came and "squashed it" later.  The whole thing was stupid.  Testosterone, I tell ya.

Here in Sweden, people don't even look at you.  There's no way people will fight you, right?  Last year I was in a club with some friends and I had to use the bathroom.  While walking away, I pushed my friend Sara in the back of her head playfully.  I didn't even look back to see her reaction.  I just chuckled.  Then some guy got in my face saying something in Swedish and pointing toward Sara.  I didn't understand him, I just wanted him out of my face.  He was a little guy, but he was really angry about something.  I dismissed him to go to the bathroom saying that the girl was my friend.   Then out of nowhere two guys hit me.  Oh, now it's on!  I think they realized it was a mistake because they ran.  Like, completely disappeared and dispersed.  This technique of jumping was new to me.  I've been jumped before.  You're supposed to keep beating the guy up, not run off.  Some guy grabbed me and I flung him off of me into a wall so I could get to my new enemies.  It turns out he was with them too.  Good thing I didn't know that back then.

Security kicked the guys out and let me continue partying.  My friend told me that it wasn't Sara who's head I playfully pushed.  It was the girlfriend of the guy who was breaking it up.  So it was a misunderstanding.  Wow.  There I go being silly and it getting me in an awkward situation.  I wanted revenge.  I actually bumped into the guys later when I left the club.  Me in my early 20s would have begun fighting the entire group.  I'm sure I've still got some scrap left in me.  I gave my button-up shirt to my friend and approached the group aggressively and... gave them a lecture.  What?  I told them that it was wrong to hit someone without knowing what's going on.  Sara looked like the girl's twin! It was a misunderstanding.  I really wanted to hurt one of the guys who was acting extra tough, but for some reason I didn't fight at all.  I acted like an adult.  My ego is too big to see any conclusion of that evening with me getting badly beaten by those five guys.  But I'm glad we never had to find out.  I guess it worked out.  Even though I got punched in the face...

Once on the train (always on the damn train) a guy got on while I stood in the overflow area leaning against the glass divider.  I was listening to some old Ghostface so I was in a Wu state of mind.  I don't know if the guy was drunk or what, but he bumped into me and destroyed my right foot.  The pain almost made my eyes water.  Out of reflex, I put my hands on his side and pushed him off of my foot.  RELIEF.  I shook my head and continued listening to my Ghostface.  Then I noticed out of my peripheral vision that the guy was talking to me.  I put on an intimidating look (furrowed brow, head pushed forward) and took my earbuds out.

       - Excuse me?!
       - You shouldn't put your hands on people or push people.

He was speaking English to me.  I didn't like this guy.  Assuming I can't speak Swedish.  Time to take my intimidation to another level.

       - You're lucky I didn't knock your ass out! (mean face)
       - You're gonna knock me out?  You don't know what I know.

I was confused.  Who says that?!  He was calm.  Didn't raise his voice or frown at all.  He just let the words stun me.  These weren't fighting words, but man they were true.  I don't know what he knows!  He played a jedi mind trick on me and it worked!  I wanted nothing to do with this truth-telling man.  He may have been drunk or high.  I don't know.  More importantly 30-something year-old me knew to just put my headphones back in and mind my business.  Ghostface didn't make me feel tough for the rest of my train ride.  I think Ghostface would have left that guy alone as well.  I'm learning.  Until next time...


  1. you inspired bringing the blog back...Everyone hates chris aint got shit on me


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