Now of all the things that your father is going to be useful for, it’s that. Let him tell it, he got ninja on his grandmother side and his daddy is part Zulu. And he was a Boy Scout.
Between your brother, your uncle B and your dad, I have no doubt that you will learn to wreck shop if necessary. But I want to teach you the way I was taught.
One day in about 6th grade or so, I was sitting on the floor in my room reading a book. My mom walked in.
Now remember, I hadn’t lived with her that long, so I found her a bit … eccentric. She kept trying to tell me that cheese is actually white - the yellow is a dye. She ate tofu. She read about Transcendental Meditation and played racket ball. Weird.
MOM: It has just occurred to me that you don’t know how to fight.
ME: That’s okay, because I don’t really bother anybody.
MOM: Awww, that’s cute. Stand up. (shoving me really hard) There. Are people. In. This world. That want. To HURT you.
I can’t tell you how strange that was. I hadn’t really been in a fight before and my half-sisters and brothers had never escalated into this crude violence. What is this woman DOING?
MOM: When you are in a confrontation and you know there’s no turning back, you have to get your mind right. None of your usual politeness applies. You act crazy enough and you won’t have a fight for the rest of your school years. Now, you know how people say, “Step across this line?”
MOM: Step across the line and punch them in the face.
Did she learn this in the heath food store?
MOM: You know that, “Knock this stick off my shoulder,” stuff?
MOM: Punch them in the face instead.
I should mention that each time she told me to punch someone in the face? She would step forward slowly, plant her foot, then swing her right fist into her left palm, making an alarming, meaty THWACK sound.
MOM: And don’t do the ‘you tap me then I tap you back then you tap me harder then I shove you a little bit …’ When you know there’s no turning back? You’re in a fight? They tap you? You PUNCH. THEM. IN. THE. FACE. And keep punching. After you punch somebody? That doesn’t mean it’s their turn to hit you. You don’t want to be hit.
This is all news for me.
MOM: Okay, another thing, everything is fair play. Throw your books. Pick up a chair and knock them off balance. Stomp their toes. Stick your finger in their eye.
This woman was really messing up my mind with this stuff.
MOM: Now here’s they key part, (looking at the copy of The Hobbit I had clutched in my hand) I know that you don’t start fights. So please don’t get beat up thinking about what I’m going to say and how you’re going to get in trouble for fighting. Just focus on ENDING this fight.
Here is where I should mention that my grandmother had told me to turn the other cheek. This kind of duality in messaging made me the woman I am today – a totally dirty fighter who is really hard to provoke.
So as for you, you seem like you’re going to be a big dude. You’ve got an awesome testosterone support group around you. You will be able break some fools off something proper.
But there are many tools to use before you resort to that. You have to know when to laugh, instead of punch. Know when to talk shit, instead of punch. Sometimes, there is honor in walking away - everyone knows that you would mop the floor with that person.
But if it comes to it? And you see there’s no other way? Put down your copy of The Fountainhead and protect your neck.