Tuesday, January 15, 2008

No Box

I wish I’d invented the move of pulling the fat guy’s shirt off in the middle of the fight, but I didn’t. There aren’t many things I want to take credit for in life that other people have done - primarily because I don’t like most of the things that people do - but pulling the fat guy’s shirt off is a stroke of brilliance I wish I’d come up with myself.

See, there was a fight, and there was an out of control fat guy who had scored himself the club-fighter’s hat-trick, nailing that transcendent triad of starting it, exacerbating it and prolonging it beyond the point of utility. This was a cry for help. Out of control fat guys cry for help at bars and clubs because they want someone to hear them. When they’ve been in a fight, and things move outside, they have their soapbox and they’ll use code words, veiled in bluster and threat, to tell you everything in fat-guy-land isn’t as fine and dandy as they tried to make it seem when they first came to the door, license in hand.

There’s nothing worse than watching a grown man lose control of himself, unless you’re talking about a horrifically out of shape grown man, which is a special case. It’s a special case because they’re prematurely limited, physically speaking, and angry about things many of us will never quite understand until we get much older. They need to let the rest of us know they’re alive – that they, too, have feelings, hurts and sensibilities – and so they cry out in the only way they can for the benefit of the only audience they’re able to hold captive.

I have feelings, hurts and sensibilities too, though – ones I’ve earned the hard way through working for a living and not having the time nor the energy to sit and listen to some undisciplined piece of shit screaming his head off because somebody “disrespected” him enough to steal his fucking cocktail frank.

Or whatever.

So what you do, when an out of control fat guy starts doing his thing, is you pull his shirt off and throw it as far as you can. By the time you’ve arrived at the point of pulling an out of control fat guy’s shirt off and throwing it, you’ll be able to throw it pretty damned far because you’ll be pretty fucking angry at him, and short of killing him, pulling off his shirt and throwing it down the sidewalk – or into the crowd – is probably the worst possible thing you can do to an out of control fat guy.

I saw this happen last weekend. I saw a good, decent man snatch the shirt from an out of control fat guy in mid-cry-for-help, and it was probably the single best bouncing maneuver I’ve ever had the good fortune to witness. When an out of control fat guy loses his shirt, and he’s down to the for-all-to-see root problem, right there in front of the crowd, a definite paradigm shift takes place and it’s a beautiful thing to see. It’s like you’ve shot the bastard with a tranquilizer dart.

This particular patient stopped dead. He lost his focus. The only thing that mattered anymore was getting his shirt back and getting himself covered. That was it. He was made to live in the moment. He hadn’t been doing that, which, theoretically was his entire problem. We gave him a goal. We granted him the gift of urgency, and he accepted it full bore, barreling down the sidewalk in pursuit of his size XXXXL security blanket.

I was too fixated on the fact that I’d learned something new to laugh.

Some of you may think this approach is cruel, but look at both sides of the issue. When someone dumps their problems on your doorstep – putting your health at risk in the bargain – the only move you can make is to put both hands on your broom and sweep them away as best you can.

Especially when they’re not paying you enough to care.