That Time I Picked A Fight And Then Defused It
So apparently, based on the responses I received on my last 2 blogs, you people like raw honesty. Alright. Ready?
Let me please preface the following by stating that the type of work I do (especially between 91 and 2009 as those were my self destructive formative years, just go with it) requires some form of stress release from time to time and back in the days and as far back as I can remember, I’d never been the type to meditate or woooo-saaah myself into a state of relaxation. See, some people are wired differently while others have been rewired by life, while others it’s a bit of both and I fall in the latter category of both - so when I needed to release stress back in the days, I generally needed to hit someone. Primitive. I know. It’s beyond the realm of empathy, logic, reasonable or even ethical for that matter, but one of my biggest issues back in the days, was getting stuck in either hyper logical mode or hyper emotional mode due to acute ADHD. I couldn’t recognize one from the other in whichever state I happened to be in, a sort of Jekyll and Hyde kinda thing. Stallone was onto something when he said “It’s You VS You” as Rocky Balboa. Today is a different story of course as mentioned in my previous blogs, therapy, research and work tremendously helped with that. As ethically and morally questionable as my actions may have been at times (and they were, many times), I did target a specific group of people in my ego driven emotional states, more specifically scumbags whom I decided deserved it based on their present behavior. So, when I needed to let off steam, finding a lowlife spot in Montreal in the mid 90s was as easy as shooting at nothing and hitting a stormtrooper.
Now I normally share the following in my self defense workshops in order to illustrate several concepts and solidify certain points I teach so many readers may remember my telling it, only I used to tell it with a little eggshell colored lie attached to it.
When I recount the story in my classes, I was innocently sitting there watching a couple of brothers play pool while waiting for a friend of mine to show up. The reality of course, is that I was there to release some pent-up and misdirected anger because some shit I couldn’t do anything about had gone down. Talk about a good guy having a bad day.
Do as I say, not as I do used to be my motto. Hypocrisy much?
And so there I was sitting at a local bar where the beer on tap was still a buck and the place reeked like Swisher Sweet cigars and throat gripping cigarette smoke. The clientele was low to no income and alcohol, cigarettes, generic Tylenol-3 tablets chased by Red Bulls were being abused worse than any human pair of ears that had to endure Yoko Ono’s singing.
I leaned back against the bar strategically scanning the room for predatory behaviour just like the predators I teach people to protect themselves from. I quickly noticed these two guys playing pool, so I watched them for a couple of minutes to get a better idea of their personality types.
Deciding they were fair game based on the way they salivated and vulgarly gestured every time the waitress came around their end, I put my immoral plan into action. My reasoning was less than weak to be honest, and I knew it. After all, ninety-nine percent of straight males, married or not, in a relationship or not, happily involved or not, would have had similar reactions towards that waitress considering and especially, the environment we were in, the alcohol consumption, not to mention the fact that the waitress was indeed attractive, provocatively dressed and overtly friendly for tips.
Except for the ‘attractive’ part which is my and I’d wager 99.9% of straight male’s opinions, the rest are facts. Not judgments.
You gotta love the societal induced games we willingly and knowingly take part in, yet purposefully and willfully ignore every red flag and intuitive spike of discomfort they stir and fill us with throughout. Those of us with empathy anyway.
They didn’t grope her, they didn’t touch her, they even made sure she never saw them act like juvenile apes, but you know what? Fuck them, this wasn’t about them, this was about me.
And frankly, as accepted as this behaviour is by most of our society, it’s wrong in my most humble of moral opinions and personally, since maybe my late twenties and even then, if only to ‘fit in’, I stopped taking part in this sort of primitive behavior. I take part in other sorts of primitive behaviors. I Was never comfortable doing it anyway and fuck pleasing those around me, if that’s what it takes to fit in, fuck fitting in.
So, with both body language and facial expressions to match attempting to spew as much arrogance as I could to entice their egos to ‘come at me bro’, I glared them both in my best Clint Eastwood scowl with taunting provocation.
Or at least I thought so anyway.
See, when I got home later that night, I was curious. So, I made the same taunting and provoking face in my bathroom mirror just to get an idea of how tough-ass-cool I must have looked to those guys. Yeah. As it turned out, much to my chagrin, I looked more like I was feverishly restraining the distressed urge of having to take a burning hot wet dump after eating two roasted habanero stuffed bean burritos dipped in nacho libre cheese first thing after a 24 hour fast.
Clint Eastwood I am not.
And talk about a lack of awareness on their part too. I had to act like a complete dickhead for what felt like an eternity just to get them to notice me burning a hole through them with my urge to fight explosive diarrhea stare. Even more of an indication that these guys weren’t really “bad guys” by the way, which again, I already knew, but still chose to completely ignore it in favor of my emotional agenda.
Just as one of the players were about to take their shot, his buddy finally took notice of my power-shit restraining glare. Finally. Damn.
Not liking the fact that I apparently needed to take a hasty shit, he interrupted his pal’s shot with an elbow nudge to the shoulder and after what could only be described as a brief alpha male building discussion between the two, one of em grabbed his pool stick the way a cave man would his spear and began making his way towards me.
His ability to strategize anything at this point had been completely overridden by his ego and emotions. Like I said, very hard to step out of emotional realm into logical realm at the drop of a dime. Humans. We’re so predictable and manipulatable when you know what’s what.
With his chest flaring, chin held high, and his upper lip slightly curled on both ends, he made his way towards me with the most subtle of squints peering from a blood curdling scowl. Ok, not really blood curdling at all but it sounded good, no?
In his best Rambo strut from the last scene of the second installment of the legendary series, where Rambo walks off at the end of the movie… you know, the one where, as he walks away from Col. Trautman after his famous “for our country to love us….as much as we…love it… that’s what I want” speech?
Yeah. Like that. But with no muscles. Taller than Stallone for sure, but average built guy. Popular strut too, I’ve seen countless male egos adopting it prior to getting physical in a fight.
He made his way towards me as his buddy kept hawk-eye watch upon us with determined intensity. I nonchalantly raised my hands, casually cupping them together in front of my chest in order to both not trigger or telegraph anything and reduce the time and movement of both my offensive strategy and my defensive flinch just in case shit instantly hit the proverbial fan and he decided to swing first, talk later.
I gave him a disarming and inquisitive look, like ‘Do we know each other bro?’ in order to interrupt his current train of thought and momentarily confuse him some, prodigiously decreasing the chances of having him hit first.
The shift of intentions in my facial expressions and body language had drastically changed from aggression and provocation to that of inquiry and passivity. This drastic shift along with their personality types ensured the fact that he would most probably talk first before hitting and wouldn’t hit at all unless I provoked further. After all, they weren’t there to fight that night.
First words out of his mouth were “You got a fucking problem man?”
Quick assessment. This guy was no threat by any means. Though he was trying hard to front his dominance over me due to the fact that his buddy was watching intently, the subtle cues he expressed via body language and micro-facial expressions, which are fleeting and unintentional facial revelations of real emotions desperately trying to mask themselves as the complete opposite of what he was truly manifesting, told another story altogether. And that was one of fear and doubt. Maybe it was because he was no longer a threat. Maybe it was because it subconsciously hit me that I was the asshole in the situation. Maybe it was the fact that he didn’t lay a hand on me and maintained a respectful distance, rude as he may have been. I don’t know.
But instead of replying by either dropping him where he stood, or the time-honoured cocky sarcasm of my youth, I found myself replying to him with the utmost respect and sincerity giving him a chance to snap out of the funk I had deliberately put him in, in order for him to step down and save face at the same time.
It was his false bravado which he’d laid on way too thick probably due to his attempt at impressing his carefully watching friend that had me honestly feeling sorry for him. Empathy. I must have been served a double dose of it at birth.
“Yeah brother, I got lots of problems. Why do you ask?” I honestly answered him followed by a slight pause for him to digest the genuineness, and enormous lack of sarcasm that usually comes attached to such words. “Does it show on my face?” I continued with an almost childlike tone of willful curiosity.
The confusion on his face was priceless. Pure gold. Roughly ninety percent of communication is body language, tone and facial expressions combined, the words are roughly only ten percent, and he couldn’t ignore the sincerity and disarming tone. Oh, but he sooo wanted to, so he pitifully continued on in order to impress his bro and not lose face.
“You fucking kidding me man?” he quickly retorted back with complete uncertainty and still desperately trying to mask his fear behind his manufactured toughness juxtaposed to a subtle sigh of relief that I didn’t get aggressive on him.
After all, not the reply he was expecting at all, but his body language instantly and visibly shifted as did his weight from the balls of his feet to his heels. It was no longer challenging at all but morphed from threatening to confusion and relief divulging the desire to negotiate.
As he was still visibly unsure of his following actions, I decided to take him all the way while maintaining my own guard up and eyes on his buddy who was still back at the pool table, aggressively staring at us like, ‘Why isn’t anyone hitting anyone man?”
“Nah man, I’m engaged to be married…” I continued, which was the truth, only it was a truth that dated back years but what the fuck did he know about the timelines of my life? What mattered was that I wasn’t lying about what had happened then, which made it so much easier for him to believe me and not trigger his own intuition against me.
“…and a major point of contention between my fiancé and I is that I work long hours and travel lots, so last week, I decided to come home early to surprise her, right?”
He gave me a slight yet acknowledging nod, like ‘right...” still maintaining a hint of readiness to throw down if necessary but his apprehension was dissipating faster and faster as he was captivated by my personal predicament.
Good. He was listening and no longer interested, so it seemed anyway, in punching my face in.
Yay! I think? I mean I did go there to release some pent-up frustrations and there I was completely de-escalating the fight I had moments ago willingly started. Now, I don’t believe in astrology...buuut…that said, I’m also Gemini. If I am to remain pragmatic though, I blame this on my acute ADHD. So I went on with my story.
“I took the weekend off to spend with her and as I opened our front door and walked into our living room to surprise her, I saw this grey, hairy ass pumping her on our living room floor.”
A flood of facial expressions hit him in under a fraction of a second, probably like yours now reading this…. sudden surprise was immediately followed by anger, then genuine compassion, before he replied:
“Shit, sorry to hear that man…did you kill the guy?”
Heh…. We hit empathy, coupled with a sense of need for retribution. Sweet.
This dude was ready to knock me the fuck out only a moment ago, and after I took him on a barely two-minute emotional roller coaster ride, we’ve hit empathy.
Like I said, he was just a regular, decent fella having a shitty day blowing off smoke with a brother after work. The fact that he was about to take it out on some other brother having just as shitty a day was only, in this case anyway, due to the fact that I picked him apart psychologically.
He was just being a reactionary meat puppet like most people are when their egos are challenged, insecurities boil over or are traumatically triggered.
Pure social violence at work. However, the fact that I didn’t allow my ego to completely take over, that once I decided not to go through with my initial sinister plan, I neither provoked, challenged or threatened him by any means.
Combine all that with the facts that I also didn’t command him nor tell him what to do in any way, shape or form, and that I had tactically given him a moral and face-saving way out of this potential confrontation, all of which led to successfully and effectively deescalating him.
Know thy enemy, motherfucker.
Keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer.
The mind navigates the body.
Brains over brawn.
I’m done. Point made; I think.
Now, though I deescalated him, it didn’t mean I had defused the entire situation though.
His friend was not so much convinced. Not yet anyway and I can understand why. He was stuck in his ego and the alcohol he consumed factored heavily in his lack of ability to snap the fuck out of it.
The fact that I was so provocatively taunting a few minutes ago was hard for him to dismiss and let go of regardless of the present amicable state of the situation his buddy and I were in, as he didn’t have the benefit of having heard my story. He was stuck in anger.
Tactically speaking, I had him, the bouncer, and the exits in my peripherals the entire time I was in the process of deescalating his pal. While the bouncer was too busy hitting on the waitresses himself, the fucking amateur, the second guy was now manically shifting his weight from one foot to another like he was seconds away from breaking into some kind of funky style dance yet to be seen by human eyes. Still staring at us with that “why the fuck hasn’t anyone fucking hit anybody yet?” look.
Yeah, the brother didn’t look happy at all.
He too, finally began to aggressively make his way towards his friend, and peeps say I procrastinate much?
He strutted with his chest widening out (but beer gut passed his chest) with the same Rambo style body language previously displayed by his now completely calm friend. It was like they had fucking rehearsed that strut countless times together at home in the mirror, Rambo 2 playing on the VCR, their shirts off in their beige trousers, black leather belts and gold buckles up to their belly buttons right after pumping weights in the garage with fantasies of both their enemies and their women revering at their feet.
As he approached, I went right back into sniper mode. I adopted a non-threatening and peaceful espousing posture congruous to the present moment and situation in order not to alert my intentions which by proxy, allowed me access to all of my tools both offensively and defensively without alerting my targets.
As earlier, a camouflaged posture that simultaneously allows me to both spontaneously protect myself should either of them sudden ambush, as well as pre-emptively drop both parties instantly should either or both start swinging.
As the second guy reached us, his pal literally verbally intercepted him in eager anticipation “Hey, man, you won’t believe what happened to this guy…” motioning towards me with his thumb, and before beginning to tell his friend my story, he interrupted himself with a sudden realization he had no idea who I was, turned to me and asked “Hey man, I never got your name?”
“Dimitri” I paused.
I raised my left eyebrow like The Rock, and the three of us looked into each other's eyes, systematically one after the other like a scene in an old western where three shooters are facing each other in dramatic anticipation waiting for one another to make a move and in my best Bond impersonation including body language and everything I could muster to match except of course for my clothes, looks, talents, cool demeanor, suaveness, class, height, hairstyle, money, skills, women, hell even my attempted British accent sucked, but besides all that, I gave a fucking Oscar winning performance man.
I continued, still laying on my best thick ass Brit accent that sounded more like a Bronx boxer with a broken jaw. Or at least I thought it sounded like a thick Brit accent, I mean it fucking sounds like a Brit accent in my damn head when I do it, knowatamsayen? But my friends tell me I sound more like a Teletubby, and those are my nice friends.
It really didn’t seem to impress these guys one bit either mind you, so maybe my friends were onto something, as they both completely and valiantly might I add, ignored my attempt at humour with as much politeness this type of awkward situation between strangers would allow. Ingrates I tell ya.
So, I persisted…. “Dimitri… Richa” –
“Steven!!!” I was rudely and quickly interrupted with a look of ‘what the fuck man? Seriously guy?’ on his face. He quickly continued with puppy dog begging eyes glaring at me to stop “and this’ Jim”.
Still remaining in full alpha male mode though, Jim wanted to make sure I knew my place. He piercingly eyeballed me something fierce, bemused at my attempts at humor, he shook my hand like he was trying to bone dry squeeze every last fucking ounce of water from a soaked towel.
I loosened my hand completely short of making it limp, and subtly lowered my eyes in order to allow him to be “The Man” as I sincerely don’t give a fuck either way really, I was never really into ego-based games, besides, the times I did things generally went proverbially south.
Besides, I just saved these two a rage beating, I’m not about to turn that shit around now and mess it all up cause Jack or Jim here needs an ego boost. So. Ego’s in check, let his soar for all I give a fuck.
If I had to bet a year’s salary based on his behaviour, weight, choice of clothes and choice speech, I’d say Jeff or Jake here was probably abused as a child at the hands of an older family member, brother, father perhaps. I let his inner child have his moment.
Steven proceeded on telling Jim, Jet, John…fucking J something anyway, let’s stick to Jim, three letters, simple. I can’t remember names for the life of me anyway.
Steve proceeded to tell Jim the trials and tribulations of my predicament with my ex and the organic sex toy she brought home from the bar to which upon hearing, Jim’s body language slowly began shifting from Rambo to that of Martin Short’s character Ed Grimley with the dropping of his emotional and physical guard.
His defiant glare slowly melted into a compassionate stare much to the cognitive dissonance of his inner alpha male being bamboozled by his deeply oppressed and unnurtured sensitivity.
By the tail end of the story, Jim managed to snuff his compassion out as quickly as it had crept on his face and just suddenly looked at me blankly before simply and nonchalantly asking me “D’you kill the guy?”
“No. I didn’t fucking kill the guy.” I laughed.
Why was everyone asking me that? I mean, I fundamentally knew why they were asking me that, but it honestly had nothing to do with ‘the guy’. As a matter of fact, I am thankful to ‘the guy’ as it was better to find out then that my ex was damaged beyond my then extremely limited comprehension, then later in life after marriage, a bun in the oven and a mortgage.
‘The guy’ did this fucking guy here, being me, a solid and a half as far as I was and am still concerned. Though I won’t lie, at the time and in the moment, the thought along with a billion others did cross my mind.
Come to think about it, it was probably ADHD that saved my ass in these and countless other circumstances like it, as the thoughts of vengeance quickly turned into something like “Are those testicles hanging off the back of that pickup truck???”