Monday, November 21, 2011
How to not be very good at living.
I've been in a fight once.
More to the point, a fight broke out which included me but which did not draw my participation. To make a shorter point, I was once punched in the face by a drug addled man holding a razor blade. My other point is this: I don't fight.
The desire to fight (other people, other animals) has no more struck me than the desire to wrap myself in barbed wire and roll down a hill. I don't quite understand it. When nature was handing out primal, survival instincts to the hunter-gatherers, I was off picking berries in a skirt. I assume.
It's the part of nature documentaries (when the elk lock antlers and the billy goats huff) that I've always wanted to amend. Sure, nature puts on a stunning show from time to time but I can never help the overwhelming feeling I get when I see two bucks lock horns: guys, have a cup of tea and let's talk this one out. You're giving me a startling headache.
I was out on the weekend with a friend of mine who radiates masculinity so obnoxiously that ovaries wilt within several paces of him. His pheromones have been known to start sputtering V8 engines. He looks like he's spent the greater part of the last decade living on his own in the woods making rudimentary game traps and hassling bears.
Another man brushed past him. It was a little rough, granted, and I was more or less very drunk so my memory is fuzzy, but it didn't seem that bad. If it were me I would have - at the absolute most - shot the man a dirty look and schemed about how I hope he one day gets his foot caught in a railway sleeper.
But it was like a switch had been flicked. Harry, my manly friend, said a few words which essentially translated to 'hey you, sir, let one have a go at you if you deem yourself worthy'. Which is an odd thing to say. Also, he said it with more swear words.
The only thing stopping this mutually assured destruction (and that seems to be what male fights amount to) was a female friend who is about the size of a wild fig. Dainty, she may be, but delicate she is not. She placed herself firmly between aggressor and friend and poked him in the chest. "Just keep walking. Just keep walking."
The confused man was confused. He attempted to circle around her to get to my friend, but she moved too quickly and poked him again. "Just keep walking." And you could see it in his face, this rivalry between his ancient circuits: do not hit the girl, must hit the boy because other girls are looking.
The poor chap almost shutdown, racked with an almost amusing surplus of indecision.
In the wild, of course, female species almost seem to be in a state of de facto approval, if only by their lack of action to intervene in any meaningful sense. Meanwhile, the males fight on. To the death. In many cases.
The whole idea that sorting out a problem with a battle in which one of you may die, and possibly both of you, seems so drastically counter-intuitive. It has admittedly comedic implications in a modern sense (imagine if this were how council disputes were settled! I wouldn't ever have the fence align to the boundaries I want it to, but at least I'd be alive to eat cake and stuff) but decidedly daft ones in the animal kingdom or an individual human sense where walking away seems like such a stunning option.
Pride, after all, can be replenished. Massive head trauma, not always so.