Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Please Hate Me

I met a friend for sushi today. It seemed like a civilized thing to do, two grown men getting together for lunch. Then, I don't know exactly why, but the conversation went to a strange place.

My friend said, "Have you ever beaten anyone up?"

"No. Not definitively, no." There were a few occassions when I bullied some younger kids on the way home from school. There have been fights which could be generously scored as draws. I have also sucker punched people. But no, I've never beaten anyone up. The phrase conjurs a vision of pulpy flesh, unconsciousness, broken bones and snapped tendons, shoulders loosed from their sockets. Or at least an unrequited black eye. I've done none of these things.

He told me that he had, a long time ago. But in the intervening years he'd come to find out that he can not intimidate people. "Whenever I try to pick a fight, guys always think it's a joke. They laugh at me." My friend is an athletic guy. Not a towering figure, but decently-sized. He runs three miles a day. In a fight his stamina would serve him well. Distance running also suggests a tolerance for pain, and perhaps that tolerance would also carry him through a fight. If the a guy wilts in agony after a few well-placed punches, he loses, no matter how badly pummelled his opponent may be.

We looked at each other warily over our lunches. I thought about challenging him to a fight, a school-yard style brawl in the nearby park. But I'd be full of raw fish in a few minutes, and what I really wanted was a cup of coffee.

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