I’ll never forget the day I realized my vision was going. It wasn’t even a progressive thing. It just seemed one day I woke up half blind. Gay.
I had been talking a lot to Peter Arsenault (Doughboys) about a music project that never came to be. (another blog for another day) On this particular night he was going to be playing an acoustic set at This Ain’t Hollywood. He invited me out to discuss more. I accepted.
At the time I was staying with my mother in the east end of Hamilton. I excitedly packed up my guitar, as I rarely went anywhere without it. I drove my Toyota down Ottawa northbound wondering if it would be faster to take Main or Barton. Ultimately I would decide to take Barton which would be fatefully bad or good, depending on how you look at it. I’m on the fence.
When I got to Barton I couldn’t make a left legally so I had to go down to the next side street. It was a really seedy street. I took it down to the next side street that connected with Barton. That street was even seedier, and to make matters worse it looked like I was pulling into a Detroit ghetto street party. There were punks everywhere. And I don’t mean safety pins and Doc Martins.
There had to be about 30 nogoodnicks milling about on the street. They didn’t seem interested in moving out of my way but that was no concern of mine. The physics were simple. My car was a lot heavier than these maggots. I drove slowly and purposefully giving them time to get out of the way. It wasn’t completely without incident. There was yelling and swearing as well as extended middle fingers. But that wasn’t my concern either. It was their venom. Let them do what they want with it.
When I got to the corner of the street I noticed in the rear-view mirror they were approaching the guitar. That wasn’t my concern either. I was a big guy with little respect for intimidation. There was no way they got a decent look at me driving by in my yuppie newer model car.
I put the car in park and got out. For a relatively wise and street-smart man I could be pretty fucking stupid. Instantly i could see they were taken aback by my size and presence. I deadpanned at them. They stopped moving forward.
“If you fucking goofs are serious about doing something, now would be the time.”
I hate the goof word. I hate people who throw it around like water. But sometimes you have to speak the idiot language to be taken seriously by those very idiots who think they can piss on your shoes and you’ll thank them for it.
No one said anything. They all just stood there, pondering. Victory was mine. This didn’t need to escalate. I got in the car. As I put it in drive they all started flipping me the bird.
I put the car back in park and got out again. This time I walked adamantly toward them. They retreated but slower than I was comfortable with. But then it happened. I got a good look at them and realized it was a bunch of teenagers. Some of them even as young as 13 or 14.
Now I felt like a fucking asshole. I shook my head and turned around to walk back to my car. I think they took my retreat as cowardice and started to come up on me. I felt they needed a good scare to learn their lesson. I turned on my heel and started walking toward them again. I was the king of intimidation and was going to win. I walked right toward the biggest guy with my best demonic glare.
Nothing in the world could have prepared what happened next. He hit me! He punched me good too. Only the idiot punched side of my hard head. I’ll bet he hurt his hand more than he hurt me, but that didn’t mean he didn’t ring my fucking bell. And he rung it good too. Add that to the fact I was completely unprepared for the punch.
I wasn’t out of tricks. I’m cool as a cucumber in even the most stressful of situations. It’s not that I’m as cold as ice or anything like that. I just don’t feel the stress or panic others seem to. It takes me a while to reach that adrenalinized state where nothing hurts and you go psycho and end up killing someone. No one has a fuse longer than mine.
The punch stung yes but I can take a punch. Especially when it’s from a punk. I’ll tell you though with no arrogance, if he hit me in the button I just might have gone down. But he didn’t.
At this point I could have become a human tornado and started kicking some teenager ass. But then I would probably only end up on Youtube hated by the world, and rightly so. Don’t think for a second Dnazig couldn’t whup Northside Danny. He was simply a victim of his own arrogance too and didn’t expect to be punched.
I tried a different tactic.
“My brother’s a cop. You’re so fucked.”
Then they scrambled. They all fucked off. I’m not going to get all poor sporty and say I could have kicked his ass but thought the better of it. That punch fucking humbled me. It was then and there I got a hard lesson that not everyone is going to respond to my intimidation. I think it’s also worth mentioning that I made myself look like an idiot because of my pride and ego. I could have kept driving and hung out with one of my idols instead of sipping a ginger ale at the bar and leaving before he even showed up because I was a humiliated ball of nerves.
Never, ever, ever, ever, again will I rely on intimidation. Especially when dealing with a bunch of kids having a good time. On top of the humility I suffered, it made me realize I needed to get my fucking eyes checked. Now I wear pop bottles. Good on me.
That was a monumental time for me. I ate humble pie for about a month. I haven’t pulled shit like that since.
You people would do well to consider the potential negative backlash of your actions. I know it’s hard. When you’re hurt, or pissed off, the easiest and most reliable way to feel better instantly is to get your gun off and go weapons hot. But the feeling of vindication you get is fleeting. The consequences of your actions just might not be so fleeting. Think about that. I know good people who will have no part of me for that reason.
This kid who punched me feels like a champ. Guaranteed. From his perspective he stood up to (and he did) some gigantic crazy looking motherfucker in front of all his friends. All his friends will revere him as a hero. And I can’t really think of a conceivable reason that he isn’t Me? I carry this around with me.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great lesson. It caused me to look at myself and my own boobery. I won’t ever rely on intimidation again. I’ll walk away next time. I’ll smile and wave. I’m not a human wrecking machine in my 20s anymore. I’m a middle-aged punk rocker who traded my best years for all these scars.