Tuesday, March 18, 2008

the sucker punch

Last night, after my date (see the post below), I was home relaxing when StefStar called. She and her model friend were at one of our neighborhood bars up the street, and they wanted me to come out. Which, of course, I did.

The bar wasn't too crowded. Stef put some dumb Irish hat on me, and we were chatty, per usual. There was a guy, late forties or early fifties, sitting next to her wearing a bright orange shirt (meaning that he's an Irish Protestant, meaning he doesn't really love St. Patty's Day) that kept glaring at us, but I figured he just thought I looked stupid with the hat on.

We moved to a table at the front of the bar, right by the door, exchanging pleasantries with a group of people that were kind of in the way. We sat down on the stools - the table is high and started chatting.

We were seated for maybe a couple of minutes when I felt a large hand forcefully clap me on the back. At first I thought that one of the guys in the group was coming over to join us. When the hand began to swing me off the stool, I then stupidly thought I was being thrown out of the bar for some reason.

Instead I was spun around. Everything happened very quickly:

pressure on cheekbone (no pain)
lying on stomach
pressure on back
punching up
i yelled, "get this muthafucka OFF of me"
pressure gone

I jumped up, ready to square off, but the bartender had already pushed Big Orange out the door. One I got my bearings (when I was laying on the floor on my stomach) I had been fairly calm and clear, ready to fight (and I swear to God that if that man had been standing before me when I got up, I would have gone to jail last night - I'm not proud of that, but it's true), but when I saw the man was gone, then noises began to come back, and I realized that I was bleeding, and I started shouting, "Why did he do that? WHY DID HE DO THAT? WHAT DID I DO?"

The bartender says, "You don't even wanna know, man,"

(which is fucking code, a code i fucking hate, because it's not a code at all, it just means that the person doesn't want to repeat what they heard, because they think my ears will break or my soul will shrivel up, but i'm tougher than that and i've surely heard worse than that)

to which I respond, "Yes, I DO wanna know. What did he say?"

to which the bartender responds, "Racial shit. He said he was gonna knock your teeth out. I asked why. He said cause you were black. So I told him you gotta go, man. And he said ok, and started walking out, but then he grabbed you."


In fucking Brooklyn.

The bar's GM tried to get us not to call the cops, but we did. Six of them showed up. They were all really surprised. My eye was bleeding, and starting to swell, so they called EMS. StefStar and her model friend were great - they came with me to the hospital. We didn't get out of there until 3. I went back to the hospital at nine and underwent a battery of tests on my eye. The doctor told me I was really lucky. I've just got a bruised cheekbone, a sore shin, some cut and sore fingers and a ugly cut under my eye. No retinal detachments, no corneal scratches, no concussions, nothing else. And the cops are on the case - they've already called me today to gather more information. The bar's even got surveillance footage, and they've agreed to give it to me and/or the cops. So we may get the bastard.

You know what?

I'm still angry.

I really hope that this guy doesn't live in my neighborhood. I really really hope he doesn't. Because I don't want to see him again. Because I don't know what I'll do. I might just attack him, do him like he did me. But I would at least call him out, because only cowards sucker punch people.

Of course, that would land me in jail, which would just make me another statistic.

Or I could run, hide, duck out of a bar or store if he's in there, or cross to the other side of the street if I see him coming, because I don't want any more conflict. There's always a risk to fighting, after all.

But then I feel like a wimp, a pussy, a chump. And I have to live with that. I'm already kicking myself for not doing more - not that I reasonably had any chance in that situation.

I keep trying to tell myself that I'm lucky. Lucky that he didn't hit me a millimeter higher, where that cut would have been on my eyeball. Lucky that he didn't hit me two inches lower and maybe break my jaw or knock out some teeth. Lucky that I didn't go after him outside, where I could have hurt him badly, or he could have hurt me badly, or where I could have gotten arrested. Lucky that the doctors at the hospital caught my high blood pressure, or the (potential) warning signs for glaucoma - maybe that stuff goes undiagnosed, and I start having serious health problems.


You know what?

I don't think I buy it.

At least not today.

Ask me tomorrow.

I just want to stop being angry.


Melissa said...

Just called you. I gotta say, I am shocked. Call me naive or whatevs, but I am shocked. This isn't just Brooklyn, it's THE SLOPE. It's not East Flatbush. It's not any of the places I've lived where stupid shit like that actually happens. This is absurd and violent and wrong. And you know what? The fact that you were there with girls who look like me is why he attacked you. That turns my stomach. I wish I would have been there and at the same time I am so thankful I wasn't. That is definitely a situation where, just as you said, like it or not I would have returned the violence. That's a frightening thing. Very frightening.

L. Britt said...

My darling, Rover,

Don't waste your energy trying to stop your anger. I'm tearing up with anger just reading your story. Your anger is exactly the right response. You are enlightened enough and self-aware enough to process this in a healthy way: your family, friends you trust, etc.

Try punching him out on a pillow or a punching bag at the gym to get the violence out, but let the anger settle into you or out of you in whatever way it will. Because it doesn't matter where it happened...it's happened and it's infuriating.

Angela said...

Wow. I really do admire the way you handled this. That person is seriously mentally disturbed. Of course you are angry and you need to just let that out somehow/where. Hopefully writing this post helped.

Sadly racism is alive and well. Just because you live in Park Slope does not mean that you can escape it. I've been called a nigger on a bus on Madison Avenue. It's shocking but true.

I can't believe that the people who worked at the bar didn't want you to call the cops. People want to act like things like this don't happen and that is infuriating. I hope they catch the guy but I also hope you can come to some peace and not look keep looking over your shoulder. Wow.

Brown English Muffin said...

Damn and I used to love Park Slope...I used to love the flea markets and such in the summer...now you scare me to even go there now.

Hope you get better soon and I hope they catch him...but then he might just get a pat on the wrist or some crap.

DH said...

Damn dude, that is so all kinds of fucked up, I can't begin to explain it.

I hate assholes like that (and their ancestors before them) who carry this hatred for someone who is even the slightest bit different from them.

On behalf of non-asshole white guys everywhere, I apologize for this idiocy.

I hope the cops nail his ass too.

beautiful face said...

Oh gosh. I'm just getting caught up in your blog.

I'm so sorry that there continue to be ASSHOLES in this Earth.

I hope you are feeling better by the time you read this.


aka bellacara