Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I Gotta Say

Last night at Bizen, Iris and I said our goodbyes to Louis, Steve and Jean and made our way down the long narrow way that insulates the restaurant and bar from the cold outside. Satisfied with our late-evening repast of grilled Ika and Berserkshire rolls, Iris and I bantered happily as I pushed open the door that opens on to Railroad Street. The cold winter air of early April caressed my cheeks and drew my attention forward just in time to sidestep the silhouetted figure that scrolled into view and filled the space before me.

The massive entry door had cleared his back by just millimeters and my shoulder by an even smaller distance, and yet the darkly clad figure hadn't budged. Without thinking, I reached behind me, grabbed Iris' hand and guided her to my right placing my body between her and the phantom who glared at me from beneath his cowl. I stared back and then without thought commented, "That's quite a look you've got on your face."

OK, that's probably not the best way to respond in a situation like this, but it's just what I was thinking, "Wow, I can't recall ever seeing anyone who looked this angry. Almost demonic. That's amazing."

So, I'd said it.

Without further thought (as if there'd been any so far), I turned back to Iris to resume our chat as we proceeded up Railroad Street towards our car, parked around the corner.

"That's quite a look you got there! What are you gay or something! What's that, some kind of faggot hat you got on your faggot head!"

Although the door and our near collision hadn't motivated motion on his part, my comment seemed to have struck a chord.

This time, I did think. I thought, "OK, let's just keep walking."

But the voice continued, "Quite the look! Quite the look! I'll show you quite the look!"

It was getting louder and it was getting closer.

Back to not thinking.

I turned around again placing myself between Iris and the oncoming figure who pulled something from his right coat pocket and quickly placed his hand behind his back. As I wondered whether or not it was a gun, I heard Iris say, "C'mon Mark, let's go! He's got some kind of bottle in his hand."

For some reason, knowing that it wasn't a gun made everything fine. I relaxed and walked back towards him, my hands open and my arms stretched downward and outward. As I moved towards him, he hesitated for just a moment and then continued towards me just a bit slower, the intensity of his glare, constant.

Again without thinking (we're about 30 seconds into this episode) as we came to within a few feet of each other I said, "Man, you look really, really angry. What's up?"

He stopped walking. His right shoulder and arm spasmed as he half stuttered, half shouted, "Who the hell do you think you are telling me how I look!"

I said, "Hey, I didn't mean to offend you or anything. You just looked really, really angry. Is there something I can do? Do you wanna talk about it?"

He stared at me, the intensity of his glare fading and his shoulders relaxing.

Then after what seemed to be hours, he drew the bottle from behind his back, shoved it into his pocket and extended his hand towards mine.

I took it.

He said, "Man, I gotta thank you for backing down. I've had a really bad day. Really bad."

"You wanna talk about it?"

"No, not right now, but thank you."

He turned and headed back down Railroad Street.

Iris and I turned and headed up.

Happy Wednesday,


  1. Wow, that's quite an encounter you had there, Mark.

    I must say I spotted at least a couple instances of smart "non-thinking" there.

  2. Sree, now that you point it out, it's kind of amazing how well one can think when not thinking.

  3. True. I think it has to do with how well you trained your non-thinking thinking ahead of time, back when it wasn't non-thinking.

  4. Sree, Funny you should say that. Just as I clicked Post Comment it occurred to me that it doesn't work without preparation.


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