Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gettin' Soft

The softest thing under heaven
gallops triumphantly over
The hardest thing under heaven.
Lao Tzu

Who needs action when you got words?
The Meat Puppets

A couple years ago, my dog friend Fargo and I were taking a late night walk in the Park Avenue neighborhood of Rochester NY—not to be confused with that other Park Ave. somewhere else in NY state...I was looking after him while his human roommate was out of town...or he was looking after me...probably a bit of both. Anyway, we were over near some bars where college kids hang out, and, there in the back parking lot of one, a college guy and girl were grappling with some violence, as she—kind of a classic sorority girl—was trying to get away, and he—kind of a classic jock—wasn’t letting her, was holding on tight, in fact, as she struggled to escape.

This created a bit of a quandary. I’m really not the kinda guy who gets into street fights, especially not with drunk jock types slightly more than half my age who could easily kick my ass. Then, I also like to think that I’m not the kinda guy who’s gonna keep walking while a girl gets assaulted. I had to do something—though, preferably, something other than simply taking her place as his object of brutality. So...I stood there...for a minute or two....

Then, however, she, still in his drunken grip, turned to me. Tell him to let go of me! she shrieked.

It sounded like a plan. So...I, in a soft, calm voice, said let go of her.

And here’s the weird part: he did—almost as soon as I’d said that, she was released from his grip and walking rapidly across the street, while he, galumphing like some old Hollywood Frankenstein monster, followed. So she turned to me again, yelling tell him to leave me alone! And I, ever valiant, in the same soft, calm voice, said leave her alone.

And then—seriously—you can ask the dog about this—the guy stopped in his tracks like a trained bear, pivoted, and walked away.

20 comments:

Omar Modesto said...

Whoa. You have actual powers! Put them to good use: tell the people at the bank to open the vault and allow you to take a substantial amount of money from it. All this in a soft, calm voice.
(and I get a large percentage because I gave you the idea)

Brooks Hall said...

Yea, it sounds like the Jeddi mind trick. Though, I suspect that you gave a voice to something that was already inside the drunk young man. And the fact that it was said softly meant that it didn't raise potentially belligerent drunken defensive behavior. That's a good story. I'd like to speak up more often, but my fear is known to get in the way.

Tara S. Dickherber, M.Ed, CPC said...

Bless you. Now let's hope she stays away from that jock jerk! Love the Tao!

Karin said...

Good to know that the voice of reason can be heard even through a drunken haze. I hope you can find and use it all on your own in the future...

Drowsey Monkey said...

Damn. I've never found you hotter than I do right now.

Lana Gramlich said...

Sounds like a bit of a date rape situation, in which case his leaving's not so surprising, really. He wasn't a die hard criminal & the presence of a witness screwed up his game plan. Still, good of you to say something!

flawedangel said...

Prolly has to do with your inner 'qi' or something.. :)

Came via BlogCatalog, love your blog!

Aggie said...

Good for you. A recent similar case here resulted in the guy, assisting a woman who was being assaulted, getting stabbed in the heart and he died in the Street. Very sad.
But, the witness factor and your calm may have brought the bloke to his senses in time.

peterson said...

I love Yoga, and i feel good when i practice it , every one should practice it .
Yoga schools

Chrissy said...

Sometimes I think a soft voice holds more power, nice one and a lovely image :D

Claire said...

Way with the force young yogic master, hmmmm its sounds like you truly have.

Seeing Eye Chick said...

It sounds as if you wandered into a bad dream. But then violent crime has a perpetually sureal quality about it.

Its amazing that the attacker couldn't literally hear her voice. Its representative of so many problems women face, have faced, are still facing.

I am glad that you were there to stop it. But I am saddened that her struggles and her voice weren't enough to deter the attacker.

kim said...

It's sad that she needed a man to get the guy to stop. But I'm glad you were there.

It just shows that sometimes a calm word or set of words works miracles.

This Brazen Teacher said...

I use those powers on my students all the time. They DO work magic don't they? :-)

svasti said...

There's this story I've read somewhere (or it was told to me or something) about the different kinds of strength that exist.
Y'know, there's strength like the oak tree's - big, imposing, seemingly invincible.

And then there's strength like a birch tree. Tall, slender and flexible. It doesn't look like it could do much to anyone.

But in a huge storm with lightning strikes and stuff, the one more likely not to be taken down is the birch tree. It has the ability to bend in the wind and rain. Whereas the oak tree... resists with extreme force until it can no longer match the force of the storm - and its uprooted...

Anyway. Unsurprisingly, I'm with you on the not standing by and watching a guy beat up a girl.

In fact, I've put myself in front of angry men on behalf of other women in the past. Even knowing I was likely to be in trouble. But its worked each time.

Something about, I think... the agression creating a fixation and the capacity in us all to wake the hell up when someone else gets in your stupid zombie face. A little light of awareness making its way through the fog perhaps?

Good to know even the dumbass jocks can get in touch with that...

Ed T. said...

Great Story Dr. Jay (can I call you that, or what do you prefer?). I live in a college town and something not to dissimilar happened to me, well to be fair your encounter was watch more up close and personal, all that I did was watch from afar and call the cops when things got violent. I agree, I am also one to let things be whatever they are, but in the case of females getting assaulted, you feel like you can't do nothing. Maybe chivalry is not dead. (p.s. Oh yah, Lou Reed rocks. Meat Puppets also).

aviva said...

It's Althusserian interpellation in action, man. Bearing witness often makes people see themselves as the monsters they really are.

On another note, Fargo says "woof"!

jack sender said...

two days shy of two months ago
you left a comment on one of my favorite paintings

now i stumble back
see you comment, see your blog
only to read this intriguing story

saw reference to the tao, whitman, dylan
now i must return
is emerson in here somewhere?

Lydia said...

First, as a follow-up to your three-legged dog post, a touching real-life story here in Oregon in the last day:
http://www.oregonlive.com/news/
index.ssf/2008/12/oregon_community_
rescues_3legg.html

I was driving through downtown Reno on my way to a party on campus in the 1970s. Stoplight. Look to left and see large guy throwing girl against building, pounding his fist into her. I roll down the window of my 1955 Chevy and yell above traffic noise, "R U OK?" She screams back, "Help!" Instead of heading straight when the light changes I turn left while popping the lock up on the passenger side. She jumps in. He jumps on the back of my black Chevy. She screams, "He has a gun." I see the gun. I crank the wheel of the car left and right swiftly and he rolls off. She and I talk (softly) down by the river. I offer to take her to the shelter. After awhile she says, "No. Take me back downtown." I leave her in front of a casino and see her eyes searching up and down Virginia Street.....

Salty Miss Jill said...

I hope he did as he was told. Jerk.