Monday, January 31, 2011

Don't Try This At Home

Think of your life as a narrative.  A story being written as it unfolds.  The protagonist is not you.

I have a legendary appetite.  It is truly a beast of epic proportions, and it has laid waste to many a buffet and family dinner and left many a peasant standing, teary-eyed, next to the smoldering ruins of his one-room shack wondering "What the fuck just ate my family?"  I am completely and utterly insatiable.

But not really.

This fact, however, is part of my own Personal Mythology.  In many circles it is completely indisputable.  It is carved in stone.  It would be considered heresy for anyone -including myself- to dispute this fact and the guilt party would undoubtedly be burned at the (not so) proverbial stake, roasted with an apple in his mouth, and then served to me for a mid-afternoon snack.  (Of course, if the perpetrator was actually me, then this means that I would have to eat myself, which, were I able to achieve it, would almost certainly be a first in the history of creation, but it would also mean I would be the fucking man.)  One of the main proponents of this myth is my mother-in-law.  When I first started dating my wife (back before she was my wife and still had the chance to escape) I dined with her family on several occasions and on some of these occasions I -as the French say- made a fucking pig of myself.  I went back for seconds.  Thirds.  Fourths.  It wasn't long before my eventual-mother-in-law began adding the NathaN Clause to invitations to Sunday night dinner: like she made two roasts because she knew I was coming or bought an extra pizza to satiate me or prepared an extra pack of hot dogs (insert gay joke here).  I always tried to politely tell my wife's family that it was unnecessary to make extra food, but I didn't protest too hard  because A) I'm a chronic mooch who won't protest very hard (at all) when somebody offers me a free meal and B) I could see from the fervour in my mother-in-law's eyes that it was already too late.  The legend had taken hold and no amount of empirical evidence to the contrary would convince her that I was not  lean, mean tube steak gobbling eating machine.

And so another chapter in my Personal Mythology had been written.  A few isolated incidents taken out of context and then exaggerated -ever so slightly at first- turned into indisputable fact.  I could eat a fucking horse then come back for dessert.  Probably a slightly smaller horse dipped in chocolate and deep fried in beer batter.(Mmmmm... chocolate fried horse cock... oh wait, where was I?)  Somewhere in the process, though, I was removed from the loop.  I couldn't control the story, at least not without severely alienating my in-laws.  The story was no longer about me in the objective sense.  It was about Mythical NathaN.  He could eat twenty hamburgers, not me.  He could drink four litres of milk in two minutes, not me.  These attributes were not mine per se, but they became associated with me, and so I did the best thing I could do.  I kept quiet.  The best thing to do when a story about you gets exaggerated -especially when it doesn't make you look like a douchebag- is to sit back and let it grow.  Let people build your Personal Mythology, and sing songs of your great and terrible deeds for generations.  And grab a free meal or two along the way.  Why the fuck not?

Sometimes, though, your life narrative takes strange, and terrible turns.  Sometimes it's not a gradual process.  Sometimes it's not some quiet epiphany about the true nature of your being. Sometimes your narrative evolves in fits and starts in ways you never thought possible.

December 29 / 2010 would take my story to places I never thought possible.

The day started uneventfully enough and by 6:30pm there was really no discernible difference between that evening and a thousand others like it that I had lived through, except of course that it was the eve of my birthday.  At about 6:30 my wife left with my three month old son (I won't mention that she was going to Weight Watchers, just in case it embarrasses her) as she had been doing for the past eight (or so) Wednesdays.  I finished my short list of chores as quickly as possible in order to waste my time playing video games in the basement.  Clean kitchen, unload dish washer, do load of laundry.  Check, check, check.  Finally, it's Xbox time.  I'd been playing Oblivion for just under a month and was eager to raise my character's level.  I believe that at the time I was on a quest to become the leader of the fighter's guild, an irony that would only occur to me weeks later.

Just before 7:00pm I answered a phone call from my mother-in-law (Yeah, that's right!  The same one from before!) and ended the conversation as quickly as possible in order to level up my knight character.  No more than two or three minutes later I heard a tapping on the basement window on the side of the house.  I remember my first thought was that it was that fucking raccoon that had gotten into our garbage so may times before and he was back for more.  Imagine my surprise then when I peeked through the blinds to see a shadowy figure holding an object (which I would later discover was a cane) who motioned towards the side door of our house.  I remember that at first I thought that maybe this was one of my friends playing a practical joke, or a neighbour with a bone to pick.  So I walked up the stairs to the side door to take a look out the window to see what the hell was going on.

Imagine my further surprise when I got to the side door only to find it already ajar.  All of a sudden shit started to get real, in the GODFATHER-horse's-head-in-your-bed sense of the word.  The shadowy figure already had the door open three or four inches (about 10.2 cm for all you metric fans out there).  Immediately I put my hand on the door and try to close it, but this guy pushes back hard and says something about shooting.  All of the sudden I get this sinking sensation.  My heart starts pounding in my ears.  I run out of cliches.  I back up and he pushes his way into my house closing the door behind him.  I am in utter shock and disbelief.  Several things run through my mind:

1) This can't happening.
2)Where's the gun?
3)What does this guy want?
4) Is this some kind of joke?

It's funny the things you think of when you're in that kind of situation.  The 4th one I actually verbalized. "Is this some kind of joke, man?" I heard my voice say.  "This is no fucking joke," came the reply from behind a black scarf.  I suppose it still came from the desperate hope that this dude dressed mostly in black and/or dark clothing who had at least three inches on me (Height-wise, that is.  I naturally assume he's hung like a pygmy marmoset.) was part of some twisted practical joke.  Then I knew -if not in those exact words- that I was in deep shit.  I was the victim of a home invasion.  My invader (?) made several things clear right off the bat:

1) He was looking for "the drugs" and "the money," in that order.
2) He was looking for my address, which he asked me several times to verify.
3) He just saw a black woman and her boyfriend leave my premises.
4) This was indeed "really happening."
5) He enjoyed eating cock.  Not because he was homosexual.  Just because he liked the taste.  (OK, this one I kind of inferred)

I had no idea what to do.  As shock and disbelief gave way to pant-wetting (metaphorically speaking) terror I kind of froze up.  What do you do when somebody pushes his way into your house?  This kind of thing didn't happen in real life.  It happened in the movies, or some war torn country in the Middle East or in New York or Toronto.  Not here.  Not me.  My immediate response was to confirm (several times) that this was indeed the address he kept quoting like it was part of some unholy mantra and to deny possession of any drugs or money.  Every time I told him that the address he quoted was was indeed the address posted outside my door he seemed more resolute and self-assured as if he had forced me to admit something.  Now his demand for "the drugs" and "the money" is important and comes into play in the larger context of this story, however at the time I remember thinking to myself that I actually did have several hundred dollars of birthday money in my wallet at the time, but he never asked specifically for my wallet and I remember thinking "There's no fucking way anybody is taking my birthday money," so I never brought it up with him.  To be fair, though, I didn't really know him at the time and I'm not in the habit of announcing to random people on the street how much money I have in my wallet at any given time.  Plus I really wanted to buy some iteration of Rockband for my birthday (I'll save you the suspense: I picked up Beatles: Rockband for $99.99 the next day.)

I want the drugs and money.

"There's no drugs here."

I just saw that black bitch and her boyfriend leave.

"Dude, I've been alone all night.  My wife left half an hour ago."

I remember there was more to the conversation, but I can't remember specifics.  It's still pretty hazy, but I remember arguing with this deranged creature the way I used to argue when I was a child: simply and desperately.  There was no guile, no time to think of any lies or set up mental decoys.  I remember later thinking that if I had lied and told him the drugs were in the basement or the back shed I could have bought some time to grab a weapon, but at the time these things didn't even occur to me, and things might not have gone quite so (relatively) smoothly had I decided to feed his delusions.  Amazingly I do remember that I had some other strategies that popped into my head.  As I backed up from my side door through my kitchen and living room I had one destination in mind: the front door.  I never liked the feeling of having my back against the wall and figured that in this case my best bet would be to make it to an exit post haste.  My other strategy oddly enough was to play to my invader's sympathies.

"Please, my daughter is upstairs."

Sit down and she won't get hurt.

"Do the people you're looking for have a daughter?"

What an odd thing to ask.  What the fuck are you up to, NathaN? I wondered.  Of all the things that run through your mind.  Try to evoke sympathy from the douchebag who's trying to rob you in your own home.  Question his reality.  Plant a seed of doubt.  Never in a million years would I ever have thought such a thing.  The crazy thing is, it seemed to work.  The guy seemed to pause.  To ponder.  He almost seemed confused.  This shouldn't have been altogether that surprising considering how twitchy he seemed.  I noticed that he kept playing with the scarf covering his face, even moving it to reveal his face for a few seconds.  I had the sneaking suspicion afterwards that he had been either on drugs or coming suffering from some kind of withdrawal, but at the time things weren't really registering in the FORREST GUMP life-is-like-a-box-of-chocolates sense.  Whatever my brain was up to didn't work for long and my invader kept advancing.

By this point I had been able to slowly make my way to the front door and open it.  I still don't completely understand how I managed to get it open without my perfect stranger putting the kibosh on it, but I did.  (If you're waiting for the exciting part, don't worry, it's coming.  It's called building suspense, jackass.)  At this point -as they say on the street (I assume)- shit started to go down.  I have secured a point of egress and had my finger on the button.  I had the front door wide open and my hand is on the handle of the screen door getting ready to get while the getting was good.  My dilemma was this: do I stay and do what he says and see how everything plays out for the sake of my sleeping daughter upstairs or do I make a break for it and get to a neighbour's house to get some help?  This is not an easy decision.  Even though I had mentioned my daughter (I fact which I later realized might have done more harm than good had my home invader been a professional and not some tripped out junkie.  Is it too much to ask for just a little bit of professionalism?  Of all the mentally deranged fuck-ups, I get the one who's not even smart enough to leverage my daughter's safety against me.  I mean, did he fall asleep in Criminal Mastermind class or what?)  In the next moment, however, he made my decision very easy.  Or at least, slightly less difficult.

Close the door.  Just go sit down or I'll have to hurt you.

Bam.  There it is.  He had already made physical contact at this point.  He had one hand on the door trying to close it and his other hand on my hand which in turn was on the screen door ready to ensure my escape.  With the threat of violence and with all of his attention trained on me I realize that if I stay this will only end badly.  My muscles tense.  My hand opens the door.  I turn to bolt.  He grabs at me but only gets a handful of shirt (that's right, I said shirt, with an "r" although at this point I was so scared that it's quite possible he might have gotten the other).  I make a mad dash down the front steps of my home and end up with one foot in the snowbank, which was quite cold because like most criminals mine was not considerate enough to let me get my shoes on first.  What a dick.  I had little time to contemplate it, however, as he was on top of me almost instantaneously, and I remember taking several punches directly to the left side of my face.  Some of it happened so fucking fast that I can't remember it and some of it slowed right down and I remember complete sentences of thought.  It was like Paul Greengrass and Zack Snyder had gotten together to make a movie.  A cross between THE BOURNE SUPREMACY and 300.  Not in terms of action, just stylistically.  This was a 300 moment.  I remember thinking something like Wow, this guy is really punching me, like, hard.  He is not holding back.  This is for real.  And I don't know what happened next.

The next moment -or series of moments- was my BOURNE SUPREMACY moment, in more ways than one.  I vaguely remember my invader-turned-attacker pushing me to the ground and reaching out to grab him, but I don't really remember what exactly I did next.  The next thing I do remember clearly is holding him by the collar of his jacket straddling him with my right arm cocked and ready to punch.  300.  I'm not supposed to hit people.  I'm not supposed to punch people in the head.  Years of social programming were not paying off in this particular scenario.  I realized that night that despite violent fantasies aimed mostly at dickheads I knew from high school that I was not by nature a violent person.  When you hesitate in the middle of a (potentially) life and death struggle in (or at least around) your own home I think you can safely conclude that you are not a violent person.  We are all programmed from a very early age to find peaceful solutions to our problems.  Avoid violence at all costs.  Dad never taught me to fight.  Under normal circumstances this urge would probably be a benefit.  Now it might cost me everything.



Maybe Three.

Aim for the head.

He doesn't like that.  He's rolling away from me.  Giving up his back.  Now before I go on I really can't stress enough the usefulness of taking some kind of martial arts class.  Even for a year or two.  It may sound overly dramatic, but it could just save your life.  Just by having even a few simple tools and a little bit of muscle memory you just might turn the tide of battle.  In this case my year of jujitsu made the difference between making it to the front page for fighting off a home invader instead of being sent to the hospital (or potentially morgue) by one.  OK, flame on.  My attacker gives up his back and my left arm immediately cuts across his neck and grabs hold of my right elbow joint as my right hand moves to the back of his head.  Rear naked choke.  Instinct.  Still 300.  I can see it all clearly.  BOURNE SUPREMACY.  We're rolling around on the cold, hard asphalt of my driveway.  I'm underneath him now still trying to choke him.  300.  Get your hooks in.  Wrap your legs around his to complete the hold.  Immobilize him.

Let me go and I'll leave.

At this point there are several things that must be noted.  One, whether because of his jacket or because I had the hold incorrectly I just could not sink in the rear naked choke enough to knock him out.  Two, through the whole battle I had been screaming at the top of my lungs to try and get somebody's attention.  Help.  Call the police.  Fire.  But nobody in the neighbourhood seemed the least bit interested. (I later talked to my neighbour who lives in the other half of our semi and I told him I had been screaming.  He said he never heard a single thing, so apparently my girly screaming had all been in vain.)  Three, now that there was a lull in the action I didn't know what to do next.  Four, my feet were getting really cold.  Five, I wanted to be as far away from this asshole as quickly as possible.  It might seem crazy that I would take the word of a potentially drugged up, potentially armed, and obviously dangerous criminal that if I let him go he would just leave, but honestly I just wanted the thing to be over.  I always thought that in a situation like that I'd want to punish the guy, but honestly I just wanted the whole thing over.  Any way possible.

THE BOURNE SUPREMACY.  I'm on my feet with a shovel in my hand yelling "Get the fuck off my property."  He stops to pick up his hat and his watch which I remember seeing broken on the ground as we were rolling around (in a totally non-gay way...).  He doesn't run.  He walks away slowly.  And then one of my favourite parts.  As the man in black (or maybe dark blue) walks away he yells back at me.

"We're not friends anymore."

At the time I remember this being quite odd, as despite not being able to see most of his face, I didn't get that sense that we had met before.  I was slightly confused, but not so confused that I didn't throw down my shovel and run back inside my house.  As I locked the front door and made my way to the kitchen to lock the side door I saw the cane clearly for the first time.  He had leaned it against the wall near the front door in order to grab me to try and prevent me from leaving.  300.  It clicked in that the way he had been holding the cane before was the way you'd hold a rifle.  I also thought Don't touch the cane.  Preserve the crime scene.  Thank you CSI.  The things that run through your mind.

Luckily I found the phone in the kitchen actually quite close to the door.  I hadn't even noticed when he first came in.  This time the programming paid off.  No hesitation.  Dial 911.  It was the first time I ever dialed 911.  It doesn't seem real until you have to use it.  Even as I dialed I wasn't sure anyone would actually pick up.  People called 911 in the movies not in real life.  Within five or ten minutes the police arrived.

One car.

Two cars.


I haven't had much experience with the police aside from an unfortunate run-in with a self-important bike cop last summer (which you can check out here), but I would have to say that the manner in which they dealt with this specific incident was commendable.  The first officer to arrive on the scene (I won't mention his name for the sake of privacy, but if you're reading this, thanks buddy) pulled into the driveway and immediately got out and started scouring the driveway for clues.  I went out to meet him, still in my sock feet.  The reason for this was because my boots were close to the cane, and I didn't want to risk contaminating the crime scene.  Thank you CSI: Miami.

Now comes the small town part.  As I was drinking a glass of water and pacing back and forth due to the massive amounts of adrenaline still pumping through my veins I happened to look out the front door again to see a woman walking her dog who had stopped to talk to the police.  It took me only a second to realize that this was my sister-in-law who lives around the corner from us.  Immediately I knew that she must be freaking the fuck out seeing a large police presence outside her sister's house.  I go outside and yell at her that everything is OK, but I know how the grapevine works and I know that within the next twenty minutes we will be receiving a frantic phone call from my mother-in-law.  The things you think about.

Shortly after that the first responding officer enters my house to take my first Official Statement.  Wow.  The first thing I can't help noticing is the striking resemblance this police officer had to Gord Downey.  Now I'm a huge Tragically Hip fan so naturally this helped put me at ease.  I almost mentioned the resemblance to him, but I didn't wan to ruin the mood of my first Official Statement to the Police.  The second thing I noticed was how he didn't take his shoes off as he walked across our brand new hardwood floors.  But I don't say anything because he's here to help and I don't want to spoil the atmosphere of my first Official Statement to the Police About the Incident.  And I totally get into it.  By this point I've discovered that my left elbow is bleeding so I'm holding a paper towel on the wound which adds to my story.  And I'm totally getting into it.  I'm recounting the whole ordeal with emotion, injecting the proper amounts of suspense and fear with a little comedy to lighten the mood.  I'm totally In The Zone.  And about halfway through my wife shows up.

Now, my wife comes in through the front door and she rushes over to make sure I'm OK.  Now her first reaction as she pulled up to the house was not concern, but ambivalence.  She told me that she thought the police were there dealing with something or someone in the house across the street which had been visited by the police before.  She thought the police car parked in our driveway was there because there wasn't enough room left on the street.  As she drove up to the house the thought never entered her mind that the police were parked outside our house.  And why would she?  These things don't happen to upper-lower-middle class people like us.  They happen to the very rich or the very poor in faraway exotic places like London, Dubai, New York, or in the back alleys behind opera houses.  We were the unseen, amorphous majority, not special enough to win the lottery and certainly not distinct enough to be targeted for a crime.

So I give my statement to the police and I get the impression that the police might already have a lead on this bozo.  Besides the cane my attacker also left behind some very clear footprints and several items including a flashlight and some condoms.  (Read into that what you will.)  The local CSI dude took a bunch of pictures including of my visible injuries which included the bleeding elbow and a pretty bad ass black eye.  I have felt adrenaline rushes before, but now I realize that they were really nothing by comparison.  It was like jerking off for twenty-seven years and then finally having sex.  With twins.  And a goat.  And a bottle of Viagra.  And a mirror on the ceiling. And Ron Jeremy giving me pointers via a wireless, bluetooth headset.  It was not until about two hours later that I really felt any pain at all.  Then it all hit.  The face.  The elbow.  My neck.  My stomach.  Now, the stomach was not from the fight, but because I had been waiting until my wife got home in order to eat.  The plan was to have my special birthday dinner a day early.  We were planning t get wings and poutine from a local bar called The Moose (not even a made up name).  So we figured, fuck it.  We're not going to let some ass clown with a fucking cane ruin our plans so we order our wings.  For delivery as I don't really feel like going out at this point.

That first night was a long one.  My wife went to bed at a reasonable hour with our infant son (after answering a phone call from her mother, which I totally called), but I was still shaken and stayed up until all hours of the morning watching movies and clutching a hammer like a baby clutching his safety blanket.  Finally about four thirty in the morning -now officially my birthday- I finally gave in and went to bed.  About five minutes later the phone rings and I just about lose my shit because I'm still on edge.  It was the police telling me that they had somebody in custody and that it was probably The Guy.  My Guy.  Like it or not he had become mine, my unholy adopted bastard.  Somebody had to claim this sorry excuse for a home invader because I had the feeling nobody else would.  He had obviously been abandoned on the doorstep of humanity and now somebody had to sign the birth certificate.  Whether by fate or by design the ball had ended up in my court and in some strange, twisted way I had become part of the family.  It is my sincere hope that he carries with him the lessons that I taught him for years to come.

The next day I tried to go about my business to make sure that this dickhead didn't ruin my birthday.  So my in-laws come over for lunch.  I recount my story to their awe and amazement.  This was the beginning of my collection of reactions to my story.  The reactions are typically split along gender lines.  Almost every chick that hears the story seems pretty impressed that I was able to fight back and protect my family.  Now the dudes that I talk to seemed pretty split: about half of them were also impressed and said that they probably couldn't have done the same thing and the other half said they would have beaten the shit out of the guy.  I'm not sure what it means, or if it means anything, it's just an observation I've made.  Anyway, it's my birthday so I want to try and make the best of it.  After the police stop by to collect my watch as evidence (pretty cool shit) to swab for DNA and whatnot.  Later on I go out for some birthday shopping because I don't want to let all this shit interfere with my life.  So I make a point of going out.  I buy Beatles: Rockband and also a set of dumbbells as I have now resolved to work out even harder for obvious reasons.  Later I go out to see TRON LEGACY with my brother-in-law because it's tradition to go out for a birthday movie and I'm not going to let the incident interfere with my life.  Now while I believe that this was the correct attitude and the healthiest course of action to take, it was fucking hard.  At the mall I kept scanning the crowd for my attacker even though I knew he was already probably in custody.  At the movie there was a point at which I started freaking out, nothing loud, just an overwhelming sense of panic and fear and some hyperventilation.

The story kind of tapers off here.  The day after my birthday -December 31- is actually my niece's birthday but instead of going to the party I go down to the police station to give a video statement and give them a DNA sample (just some blood, I didn't have to fill a cup or anything).  The room I was put in for my statement was one of the police interrogation rooms, and once again nothing like TV.  It was brightly lit with a table, two comfortable chairs and two security-style cameras in domes on the walls.  There was a red band tat ran around the perimeter of the room about four feet off the ground which if touched would set off an alarm and get some backup in there on the double.  As I sat down in the chair opposite the detective who was working the case I tried to pull my chair in, but found I couldn't move it. 

"Bolted to the floor.  So you can't throw it at me."

I never would have thought of a suspect using  chair as a weapon against me in an interrogation.  I guess that's why I'd make such a shitty cop.  I make it back to my niece's party in time to grab a few slices of pizza and some cake, then leave as quickly as possible because I'd gotten my free meal and also because I kept having visions of people breaking into my house.

Unbeknownst to me a month ago the story would take some strange and unexpected turns.  So far there have been two stories in the local news about my ordeal.  The first was the Monday after it happened because my attack happened at a very busy time, what with it being New Year's Eve and all.  So I finally pickup a paper and discover that my story has been pushed to page three.  Page fucking three.  And you know what was on the front page of that paper?  The first baby born in our city in 2011.  Really?  I lost out to an infant?  That's not news.  Any moron can buy a six pack, stick it in his girlfriend, and then have a kid nine months later.  That's not news.  It's a biological function.  It's like doing a story on dad because he had a bowel movement this morning.  What happened to me was news.  I fought off a home invader.  I protected my home and my family.  I fucking took charge.  An ordinary citizen fighting back against the dark tide that threatens to eat away at the very heart of our society.  In the hands of a half-way capable writer my story could have been inspirational.  A call for the Everyman to stand up and to take back what was rightfully his, a revolution for the common man.  In a perfect world.  Anyway, the first story was a pared back recounting of the basic facts.

Now the second article a few weeks later helped put my particular situation into a larger context.  I already knew from the police that my guy had had previous charges and was "in the system."  What I did not know as that he was wanted in four different cities for various charges including assault and weapons charges.  Feel that cold shiver down your spine.  Apparently he's being shipped off to Napanee to face some charges down there.  Something in this article really caught my eye and the eyes of several of my friends.  Apparently this guy used to play hockey in the OHL.  And -get ready for this- was a fourth round draft pick for the New Jersey Devils.  Never played an NHL game apparently, but was still drafted.  I know that everybody used to be somebody, and people have pasts, and even criminals may have had other professions, but this is just a really strange twist. At least it is to me.  Maybe you're used to being accosted by former NHL hopefuls who break into your house looking for non-existent drugs, but where I come from it doesn't happen a lot.  I can tell you one thing, I won't be watching hockey again any time soon.  I'd be too busy focusing on which of the players looked like they were hatching some twisted scheme and wanted to spontaneously attack me to enjoy any aspect of the game.  However, at least of few of my friends were more impressed at discovering that I had kicked the ass (yeah, I went there) of an NHL-calibre defenceman.  Apparently defencemen are typically bigger guys (I don't know much about hockey...yup)  and so it helped put my achievement in perspective.  I guess before that they thought I was beating up some emaciated crack-head instead of a strapping young man who almost made me look small by comparison (At 5'11 and about 205 (relatively) solid pounds I'm not considered small in my social circles.  After ten years of working out (on and off) quite a bit of that is muscle.  Yeah, I'm fucking huge.)

So now the question becomes how will this incident work into my Personal Mythology?  The answer is beyond my comprehension.  Like all myths this one will evolve in ways I can't possibly imagine.  The obvious connection would be to make me into some kind of super hero, criminal ass-kicking machine.  This also jives with one my favourite parts of the story, an innocuous little detail that usually gets a chuckle from most people.  The night of the attack I just happened to be wearing my Superman shirt.  This could be the dawn of The Age of Ass-Kicking in my narrative.  This may sound self-aggrandizing, however from an objective perspective (I'm a poet and I don't know it) just looking at the facts and not taking into account the gut-wrenching fear I felt which is impossible to describe anyway and which an impartial observer might casually ignore because they can't understand it really, I technically kicked some ass.  While I didn't get the knock-out, I did get a TKO as the bastard basically tapped out.  In a street fight.  Who does that?  And while we're on the subject, who uses a cane as a fashion statement?  What is this the 1920's?  Did he think he was a count or a sex-starved vampire from Transylvania?  The motherfucker didn't even walk with a limp.  What a fucking poser.

But aside from carrying a cane he didn't need what my attacker did was force me into the role of the good guy.  Narratives tend to be-by their very nature- polarizing.  This helps make for a more engaging story where you can hate the "bad guy" and empathize with the "good guy."  In this particular narrative my attacker was the bad guy so I ended up as the good guy by default.  I say by default because I didn't try to be a hero.  Given the choice between fight or flight, my first instinct was flight.  Only when pushed to the brink did I turn to my second option.  Only it wasn't me.  It was Legendary NathaN.

Thinking back, long before I met my wife or my mother-in-law, all the way back to my university days I remember a residence social event.  It was a Christmas party or Easter party, or some stupid shit like that.  The point is that a lot of people from the residence were there and lasagna was being served as the cheap main course.  And I was hungry.  I went back for a few more servings and then the real fun began.  I started eating the lasagna people couldn't finish right off their plates.  Not perfect strangers of course, people we knew, but still.  People don't do that.  Legends do.  In the course of the evening I might have eaten maybe half a lasagna.  But if you asked my friend Ryebone he would probably tell you it was at least a whole one.  He'll probably tell you I was still hungry, but there was nothing else left to eat and I had to have a snack when I got back to our apartment.  Legends are not born.  They evolve.  My best bet is to tell the story and then keep my head down.  If I don't say anything the myth will take it's natural course as people's imaginations and perceptions run wild.            

Think of your life as a narrative. A story being written as it unfolds. The protagonist is not you.

But he kind of is.




  1. The evolution of Personal Mythology? Your retelling of personal events is appalling at best, but what should I expect from you? If you’re going to talk about stories being written as they unfold, it would be a crime not to mention Another Year, The Ghost Writer, or Black Swan, all of which swipe the floor with your selection, if you’re looking for more than melodrama wrapped in teen angst. So sit up straight, get a proper haircut and start thinking multi-dimensionally about some life events that have some guts under the hood, not just a nice paint job.

  2. Sir, how dare you speak to this man in such a tone? Don’t you know that this gentleman wears a Trilby, the hat of choice of a Mr. Frank Sinatra? A Trilby, dear friend!

  3. Whats with Anonyong's comment? This kid drink all the juice or something?

    'Melodrama wrapped in teen angst'? What?

  4. Either this is the same anonymous douchebag who commented on a previous post and copied and pasted his own comment or some new douchebag who copied and pasted. Also, hi Mr. Winterbottom!