We watched as the man stood at the end of the road, in a victory stance, announcing his next conquest.
“You hear me!? I want to fight!”
His t-shirt was missing, revealing tattoos on every inch of his skin up to his neck as he growled through the shadows.
He stomped toward us, fists clenched.
I was sitting down on the stoop. He walked up and stuck his face in mine and shouted more profanity-laced threats.Two minutes later, he was on the ground, weeping like a lost child in Wal-Mart.
I’ll tell you what happened — and how I made him cry in a bush — in a moment.
Last Friday night, I learned the second lesson of 99 Things Every Millennial Man Should Know (a book I’m putting together in 90 days using James Altucher’s The Choose Yourself Guide to Self-Publishing)…
99 Things is a compendium of powerhouses (heavyweight boxer Ed Latimore, “Gentleman Mystic” Billy Red Horse, kung fu master and mentalist Jonathan Pritchard, and much more) imparting their wisdom.
Hours before I was to leave for C.J. Midlam’s house (self-published author of The Windows Around, we spoke of last week), I received the second chapter to 99 Things, written by Kung-Fu master Jonathan Pritchard (see below).
It was about self-defense through de-escalation of violence.
I read it, appreciated its approach, then left for the long drive to Dayton to hang out with C.J. at Germanfest.
Little did I know, the very tactics described in Pritchard’s piece would potentially save my life.C.J. and I started at a bar, Dayton Beer Co., and downed a couple beers.
Soon, we found ourselves downtown, gulping down Jager Bombs (hey, as they say, when in Rome). Then another bar, called “Therapy,” a truly God-forsaken place, in which we had a gin and tonic and I silently vowed never to return. And then, we headed to C.J.’s home.
It was a nice night, we agreed. We relaxed outside on the stoop, under a soon-to-be midnight moon.
As we talked, a man rounded a dark corner down the street, heaving like a wild banshee.
His body flailed as he stormed through, kicking up dust and debris like a bull in heat. His shirt was missing. His pants, drooping. Tattooed from neck to toe.
He was the “bad guy in the dark alley” your mother warned you about.
He raised his arms up like he’d just finished a marathon, stopped, and yelled, “I want to FIGHT somebody! F*CK!”
We took a look around and a realization crept up our spines from our inner-bellies. It was just us on this lonesome street. So, naturally, he headed in our direction. “Well, this should be interesting,” C.J. said. “Yep,” I said.
“What’s up, bitch?” the breathy man said, one hand on his belt. I was still sitting on the stoop. An easy target, a sitting duck.
He ran up, stuck his face in mine, and said “What’s up? What you want? Huh!?”Pritchard’s piece popped in my mind. Time to put it into action.
It must’ve been the Jagermeister in my veins, but I was irrationally placid. Cool as a cucumber.
I said, “Hey, it’s OK.”
He stuck his face closer.
His breath was hot. It stunk of an ancient rage.
My ego almost grabbed me…
There was a loud moment inside my head where I screamed the obvious: “Get out of my face.”
But I didn’t say it. Instead, I tried something else, “Look, you’re a good person,” I said.
Like that weird alien in that Steven Spielberg movie, I reached up and touched his heart with my index finger.
“Here,” I said. “Right here.”
And, you know what, I meant it. I felt it.It was genuine. I was in the moment. I was with this man, not against him. Not judging him. I felt what’s best described, although the term is lacking, as compassion.
And, some. blessing. how. it worked. First, he whimpered. Then, he staggered back and crumpled like a cheap suit.
He fell into a bush and began to weep. I tried to help him up, but his bones had melted into his skin. He slumped to the ground like a bowl of Jello.
This grown man, tattooed from head to toe, possibly gunning for a night gig at MS-13, transformed into a toddler. He didn’t want to fight. He just wanted someone to love him. Be his friend. Tell him everything would be OK. Touch his heart. Teach him how to walk.“I have no friends!” he shouted. “I want friends,” he cried.
A dark figure emerged from whence he came. A female figure. It approached as C.J. and I hoisted the man on our shoulders.
It was his mother. “Come on! The cops are looking for you,” she said. “Thank you boys so much. Thank you. Thank you.”
“I love you mom,” he said. “Try to walk, honey,” she said.We tried to walk with him for a bit, but it proved more difficult than anticipated.
He goose-stepped all over the street. He would extend his left leg in front of me, on his right, and would do the same with his right to C.J. on the left.
We finally carried him, leaving his legs to drag behind. His pants began to loosen, and then dropped right down to his ankles. Cojones exposed, flapping in the breeze.
His mistake that morning to meet the day au naturale was the first of many, it appeared.
“Uh,” C.J. said, “Hey, Mom. This is a job for Mom.”“Oh, no,” she said, looking back.
We rounded the corner, that blasted corner that started this whole thing, and dropped him in the backseat of his mom’s Buick. We did our good deed for the night, and might have avoided being stabbed.
So, yes, please pay heed. And recognize nothing, not even violence, is inevitable.
Published under a creative commons license here.