Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Violence/Delusions of Inferiority

The other night I went to see the new movie "A History of Violence." I enjoyed it very much; ergo, Jim did not.

Post-movie, walk through Union Square to "see what kind of bullshit is going on," (my phrase) studying a display of poster-ized early-eighties NY Times front pages featuring enormous-point headlines re: Polish Solidarity strikes. I went home via subway.

Thinking about "what the movie was about" on the way home. Perhaps it is that violence is something that, once you allow it into your life, you will not be able to get rid of it. Like lying, like the herpetic keratitis in my right eye.

Aboveground, it was after midnight and I was slightly afraid of walking from the subway back to my apartment. It's a bit of a long walk and is alongside a dark park. (and recently someone had fired a gun across the street from my apartment) Also, I was spooked by this effective movie. I walked about 30 yards behind someone else making the same walk, strength in numbers.

I'm not long into my walk when I realize that someone is running full-bore at me from behind. I turn and see a figure hurl something hard and round at my head. I cower in protection and it hits my left shoulder. After impact I turn again and see this youth turn tail and run back to his friends, who I see are 20 yards behind him. I thought, "was that a crabapple?" It had seemed to splat when it hit the ground, yet no mark was made on my clothing.

All this happened in silence, save for footsteps and breathing. The assailant made no noise, nor did his friends behind him. I said not a word and barely even altered the pace of my walking - an effort to act as if, essentially, nothing had happened; that this little incident meant nothing to me, therefore no further action could be taken by the assailant.

This turn-the-other-cheek method of conflict resolution is often propped up by the phrase "don't even give them the satisfaction" -of a response, of rattling you, etc. This even passed through my mind. "Don't respond. Act like you couldn't care less." I suppose this worked, though these kids didn't seem to be out for any more than making good on a random dare.

But moments later it became very obvious to me, I did care. Hours afterward I still wasn't finished thinking about it, how I could have turned around and at least verbally abused this kid (insulting adolescents, of course, makes an adult feel so good). Why should I act as though I am un-fazed? For my own good? But instead I bottled it up and took it home with me. I've never been in a fight. Is this how violence enters your life, through these kinds of decisions? Is this how wars are won? Pres. Bush says anything but complete victory is unacceptable. I completely disagree. But I am all too familiar with cutting my own losses. I'm not going to be taking any cues from Bernard Goetz but sometimes my self-protection mechanism is completely unacceptable.

7 Comments:

At 12:16 PM, Blogger Timothy Bracy said...

one time, in my accustomed fashion, i was jogging down georgetown pike in mclean, when a van full of rougue teens threw a golf ball at me from a passing car. this startled me, but it bounced harmlessly off my arm, and while i think i would have gotten angry if it were a snowball or egg, something about it's being a golf ball just served to confuse rather than enrage. i thought, "well that was weird..." and just kept jogging.

 
At 3:52 PM, Blogger pauldeppler said...

I was walking down bedford in front of the industrial school late at night a few years ago when a couple of ruffians came up from behind and started playing with my winter hat. This was the hat that tim's grandmother had knitted and was widely believed to actually be a tea cozy --because it was huge. Boy, did that feel bad.

 
At 12:28 AM, Blogger stark pimp said...

I believe I have read about this hat, nosing around one evening in the stacks of the ABC - ah yes, here it is:

http://www.americanbookcongress.org/weblog.php?id=P304

 
At 6:56 PM, Blogger stark pimp said...

I'm glad to report that I have moved on from my frustration at being so randomly attacked. Perhaps this blog shall be my retribution. Must remember to give my next assailant the url for the Nation Sack so that he can taste of my blade for himself. I paraphrase John "Harlan" Norris:

New York is okay if you like saxophones... and revenge.

 
At 9:12 PM, Blogger DJ said...

The silence. That would freak me out.

 
At 3:35 AM, Blogger Couch Potato said...

"Help me if you can I'm feeling down" - I also think I must be lost.

I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw him on the golf course yesterday. Now this is strange because usually I see him in the supermarket.

Honest really, last time I saw him there he was right in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new lcd tv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a lcd tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger.

Then I'm gonna go home, put ma dancin' suit on, munch me some uppers and freak out to that maaaaaaaaad surfing scene in Apocalypse Now on ma lcd tv .

How cool is that boy?

And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . .

"You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on "

Strange day or what? :-)

 
At 3:15 PM, Blogger brian said...

I just started a 2001 jetta blog

 

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