Thursday, November 30, 2006

"A little violence never hurt anybody..."

Greek Island of Santorini
(Image from Wikipedia)

Or so one of my part-Cherokee Ozark uncles used to say.

Now, I'm not one to advocate going around punching people in the nose, but I've seen enough to see my Uncle's point.

So has this fellow Mikel Jollett, who wrote a touching if unconventional tribute to his dad: "Me vs. The Bully" (h/t Gar).
When I was 15, I was terrorized by a 12th-grade headbanger. A big, mean S.O.B. who ran with the skinheads, snorted coke before school, and walked the halls with a menacing scowl on his face and a 4-inch switchblade tucked in his vest .... Everyone at the school was afraid of him. I was afraid of him. I had no idea what to do about it.

So, I told my dad. Now, Dad and I were nothing alike .... He'd been an outlaw in his youth, running drugs to Mexico, writing fraudulent checks, and spending 3 years in prison....

Everyone in prison thought my dad was crazy. Whenever someone came too close, he'd go berserk, yelling with that incredibly powerful voice of his, intimidating whoever approached him, convincing them that he was a cannon ready to go off .... They left him alone....

Which is why he seemed like the right guy to talk to about the headbanger. I sat him down one morning and told him about the threats, the intimidations, the months spent with my stomach in knots. He listened intently and thought for a moment, furrowing his weathered brow as I did during geometry class. Then he looked up and said, simply, "Well, you're going to have to kick his ass."
Well ... you might think that this particular advice wouldn't take much brow-furrowing thought, that this ex-con advising his son to kick that bully's ass is just some loser giving primitive advice, but if you read the story, you'll see that this dad understood his son's situation, knew what had to be done, didn't give the advice lightly, and prepared his son both mentally and physically for following through.

The advice was basic, not primitive -- an important distinction.

Now, I've never punched anybody -- even grew up assuming that the moral position was to "turn the other cheek" -- but I can think of a few times when a sharp punch in some jerk's nose might have assisted that guy's moral development.

Read the story and draw your own conclusions.


At 10:15 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

Thanks for linking to this, Jeffery. That was just terrific. I actually cried. I know, not very manly of me, but what do you expect?

It reminded me of the time about a year ago when I advised my then four-year-old girl, a little slip of a thing, that if the boy in the park didn't stop pushing her when she told him not to, she should yell really loud and push him back. My husband was shocked to hear me give that advice, but I think I won him around to my way of thinking. She understood all the stuff about talking it out, telling an adult, not escalating, etc., but I wanted her to understand that it, in certain circumstances, it was okay to defend herself.

It also reminded me of the Scut Farkus affair. If you've seen A Christmas Story, you know what I'm talking about.

At 10:59 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well ... ahem ... uh, I didn't cry ... uh ... not even when I told my wife the story this ... this ... this ... morning...

... uh ... because I'm so manly...

... but you being a woman and all, that's okay.

Sounds like good advice you gave to your daughter, too.

The Scut Farkus affair? Never heard of it. I don't know A Christmas Story. Is this a recent film (you know, the last thirty years or so)?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:09 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

Yes, it's recent, by that definition of recent. I think it was made in about 1983. A great movie (not a "film").

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"Lady Bracknell, I hate to seem inquisitive, but would you kindly inform me..."

Okay, KM, like Wilde Jack, I'll risk revealing my earnest ignorance: What's the distinction between "movie" and "film"?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:29 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

I wasn't criticizing your use of the word film, by the way. Just making a clumsy point about what kind of film it is (nostalgic, sentimental, funny, unassuming, etc.).

I'm commenting while serving up dinner for the girls, so I'm not making much sense.

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

Ooops, you beat me to a comment before I could explain myself. I didn't even realize you had used the word film when I wrote that. I'm really feeling like Lady Bracknell today.

At 12:17 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

KM, don't worry. Nothing has offended me ... but I'm still not clear on the distinction between "movie" and "film."

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:29 PM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

Oh, I sometimes make a distinction between films and movies as follows: Movies that take themselves very seriously I designate films. I have nothing against films; indeed, I love a lot of movies that I consider films (Schindler's List, Miller's Crossing, Days of Heaven, The 400 Blows . . . it's a long list). Movies whose aspirations are somewhat more modest, movies that are less self-consciously works of art, I call movies (A Christmas Story, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars, etc.). The distinciton between films and movies is obviously very blurry and subjective, and some movies I love are, in my opinion, actually greater works of art than some films I love.

There. I've treated you to my idiosyncratic and very confused philosophy of movie classification.

Anyway, according to that philosophy, A Christmas Story is a movie -- and an immensely enjoyable one, at that.

At 12:53 AM, Blogger Dave said...

I was struck by the part about hearing himself using his dad's voice to defend himself. When that happened to me it gave me a new perspective on my father.

At 4:20 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Dave, I noticed that point in story, too, but I'll never have that particular experience.

I do sometimes hear myself repeat what my grandparents said to me, but I don't hear it with their voices.

Jeffery Hodges

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