By Danny Tyree
After the Academy Awards incident between Will Smith and Chris Rock, I started wondering how many of my gentle readers have resorted to physical violence in their adult life.
In 1983 a co-worker sucker-punched me at the end of second shift and in 1999 (at a different workplace) a co-worker shoved me to the ground; but so far, I haven’t been in any two-way fights since childhood. (Some folks play tennis. Some folks play cornhole. Some folks play “the long game.” Bwahahahaha…)
But what about you? Have you ever slapped, punched, head-butted, butt-kicked, snatched bald-headed anyone who has run afoul of you? Do you regard it with pride or shame?
If you have a story, I hope you acted in self-defense, or to protect someone from a bully or to defend your country or at least to keep that &^%$# hussy from interfering with your sacred right to the last Samsung 85-inch TV on Black Friday. (“With liberty and justice and Crystal Processor 4K for all who lay hands on it first!”)
PLEASE don’t tell me that you have instigated a family squabble at a funeral, scuffled with a conscientious police officer or manhandled an editor who didn’t use my columns often enough. (Regarding the latter, “don’t tell me” is the operative phrase. Plausible deniability and all that.)
AT LEAST tell me you were thorough with your use of force. No knocking someone into the opening of Happy Hour when you were AIMING for the middle of next week. No giving someone an UNSOUND thrashing and getting the Building Codes people involved.
For statistical purposes, I hope any hypothetical disciplinary slaps can be broken down in terms of being provoked by sass or backtalk or attitude or “that look” or at least copyright infringement. (“How DARE you plagiarize and use the excuses I used on MY parents!”)
I pray that you spring into action only when totally justified, Grasshopper. The world certainly has enough lowbrows who tend toward the hair-trigger mode. (As Yoda once observed, “The Jerry Springer Show is strong with this one.”)
Yes, “taking umbrage” seems to be the default value in our culture. “Them’s fightin’ words, mister” lurks in our psyche decades after its introduction in Westerns. Hey, how come no one ever announces, “Them’s huggin’ and dancin’ and singin’ Kumbaya words, mister”?
Okay, self-restraint is harder than the Decorum Police imply. More than once when I’ve encountered an infuriating jerk, I’ve dutifully retreated to my Happy Place — only to discover that the scumbag was already there, using the American flag for a picnic blanket and groping my grandmother!
Today’s brawlers can always conjure up an excuse for their behavior, but it’s sad just how wimpy we’ve gotten since the halcyon days of chivalry, the Hatfields and McCoys or dueling. (“Defending my sister’s honor is worth a night in jail, but I ain’t getting shot at over her! I mean, she always got the most toys and let’s face it, she IS sort of a flirt…”)
Taunts, challenges, unintentional slights and the ensuing donnybrooks may always be with us; but there is a glimmer of hope that social media trends may take a lot of oomph out of the animosity.
(“You say my momma is so fat her blood type is Ragu??? Let me fact-check that before we do anything hasty. Your aspersion is probably missing context.”)
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”