Shall we fight or flee?

lonely playground (ii)

This afternoon, as the Son and I patiently waited to get on the bus, we witnessed two women almost come to blows over who got on first.

I know I should have taken advantage of the situation and turned it into a teaching moment (forget the fact that the Son turns 23 this year) but instead, the words that came out of my mouth were: I was in a fight once.

The year was 1970 something.

It was a time when Mary Jane platforms and bell bottoms were all the rage.

It was also a time when fighting after school was a way of life.

Every day, my sister and I would go to school fearing it would be “our turn.”

Like candidates coming of age in the Hunger Games, we would fearfully approach the playground, all the while praying no one would “call us out.”

Calling out: The act of being singled out to fight.

Tentatively, we would walk toward the monkey bars, careful not to make eye contact with any of the bullies, and climb the metal bars that also filled us with dread.

Nevertheless, the fear of being a “callee,” far exceeded the fear of breaking a limb.

Day after day, a fight would take place after school; the result of someone having been “called out.”

And day after day, we’d quickly walk past the sanguine crowd that gathered to witness the fight.

Like Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, two contenders would duke it out until a victor was crowned.

Participation didn’t involve bravery, skill, or cunning.
It simply involved the will and determination to be the last one standing.

Not an easy feat for a nine-year old, but these were the 70s, a time when these “clandestine” activities were ignored by the administration.

One afternoon, as I made my way to my sister’s classroom, I heard the whispering.

Seeing my sister’s face, I knew she had won the lottery of being called out.

“Who?” I asked her.
“Russell,” she whispered.
I couldn’t stifle my horrified gasp.

Russell was one of the meanest kids in school and his winning record was attributed to his considerable girth.

We slowly made our way to the playground, unable to escape the murmurs of “It’s her. Russell called her out.”

I thought of going to the Principal’s office to alert him of the carnage that would soon take place. But my sister wouldn’t allow it.

“If I don’t do this, I’ll have a target on my back until we finish elementary school.”

Sadly, I knew she spoke the truth.

Timidly approaching the playground, my sister was unprepared for Russell’s formidable pounce.

Like an overweight panther, he leaped out and circled her.
Preparing to come in for the kill, he cracked his knuckles.

His side kick, a scrawny boy with greasy hair named Tim Finch, egged the crowd on.

“Fight, fight, fight!”

As the crowd got larger, I became more nervous.

Russell, unperturbed by the noise, lunged again.

Artfully dodging his punch, my sister ran.

And that’s when I saw Tim Finch do something I’m sure he’s regretted to this day–he pulled my sister’s hair.

I saw her delicate features flinch in pain.

Throwing my book bag on the ground, I rolled up my sleeves.

I quickly approached the fight circle.

Russell and Tim were about to discover the power of team work.

Giving me a “thumbs up,” my sister threw her small body against Russell’s belly.

He quickly recovered and grabbed her head.

She kicked him in the shin.

I kneed Tim Finch in the stomach, and like a rabid monkey, jumped on Russell’s back.

Russell spun wildly, attempting to dislodge my arms which were tightly wound around his thick neck.

In the meantime, my sister took hold of his shirt collar and gave it a hard yank.

Within seconds, Russell’s shirt had ripped top to bottom, leaving him exposed to the crowd of instigators.

Silence filled the playground.

Russell, looking down at his bare torso, attempted to hold his shirt together.

Everyone started to laugh.

Running, he exited the playground, never once looking back.

Amidst the cheering, my sister and I picked up our backpacks and started for home.

We weren’t overjoyed.
We didn’t feel triumphant.
We didn’t feel like winners.

We were just two individuals who had exposed a mean kid for what he was–a bully.

Many decades have passed since the Russell incident, yet now and then, my sister and I will remeniss over what transpired that day and laugh.

Not at what happened to Russell, but at how we successfully pulled off a “David and Goliath.”

Yes, we could have walked away.
We could have tattled.

But at the time, faced with what we believed were life or death circumstances, we had exercised self preservation.

While it is not my intention to condone bullying or fighting, I am still a firm believer that there are times you have to do whatever it takes to survive.

Fighting over who gets on the bus first?
Not one of them.

Happy Thursday, friends!

XOXO,

Are these what you call close encounters of the Speedo kind?

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Dear friends,
I’m very excited to finally publish this post. Why? Because it’s due time we all enjoyed a good laugh.

I confess it wasn’t easy to capture these shots. With the Daughter unable to join me this summer, I didn’t have a decoy. As a result, I got the stink eye from avid Speedo wearers on more than one occasion.

However, not one to stray from my mission, I donned a large hat and sunglasses and pretended I was photographing the Mediterranean sea.

Over, and over, and over.

Some of these shots will make you groan, others will make you cringe, and the last one will restore your faith in men’s ability to select appropriate beach wear.

In the past, earlier Speedo posts have been a bit controversial.
Hence, I want to address the issue by stating the following:

To any reader who thinks it’s his or her right to defend Speedos and the men who wear them, I say, don’t bother. Not only because this post is done in good fun, but also because you are never going to convince me there’s a reason for men to go out in public wearing something that resembles an undersized loincloth. As far as I’m concerned, the only man who’s ever been able to pull off a Speedo has been Michael Phelps, and that’s only because he wore it in a tub. So instead of going on a useless crusade, I suggest you sit back, check out the photos, and chuckle to your heart’s content.

Camouflage attire is a must when going on a Speedo mission.

Camouflage attire is a must when going on a Speedo mission.

Glasses and a hat--the perfect way to disguise you and your companion when a Speedo is in attendance.

Glasses and a hat–the perfect way to disguise you and your companion when you’re wearing a Speedo.

This man gave me the stink eye when I captured his self-made Speedo.

This man gave me the stink eye when I captured his self-made Speedo.

Add a bikini top and this man and his wife look like they're wearing twin suits.

Add a bikini top and this man and his wife look like they’re wearing twin suits.

The self-made Speedo--for those times your real Speedo is in the wash.

The self-made Speedo–for those times your real Speedo is in the wash.

I don't know what's more disturbing, the addition of a yellow swim cap or the emerging butt of the blue Speedo user.

I don’t know what’s more disturbing, the addition of a yellow swim cap or the emerging butt of the blue Speedo user.

Not even a tattoo gives this Speedo an edge.

Not even a tattoo gives this Speedo an edge.

Next up, the  Speedo and back hair combo.

Next up, the Speedo and back hair combo.

This year's hottest trend--the Speedo boy shorts.

This year’s hottest trend–the Speedo boy shorts.

A large tote bag--something to carry the board shorts he should be wearing, perhaps?

A large tote bag–something to carry the board shorts he should be wearing, perhaps?

When you manage to pry your eyes away from the six pack, I urge you to look at what stylish and appropriate beach wear looks like.

When you manage to pry your eyes away from the six pack, I urge you to look at what stylish and appropriate beach wear looks like.

When and where was your last Speedo encounter?

XOXO,

Just a lazy Sunday afternoon, really?

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It never seizes to amaze me how much we humans can learn simply by observing; by taking in our surroundings and more importantly, the dynamics that take place in them.

Today, after a week of captivity (or at least it feels this way), I finally left the house. I thought it was due time for Roxy, the Significant Other, and I to hit the dog park. I figured that after our long sabbatical, our furry friends and their humans would long have forgotten our “reputation.”

So off we went. Me, wobbling side to side but finally walking a bit, the Significant Other dutifully carrying my crutches should the need arise, and Roxy tugging on her leash, eager for the opportunity to socialize.

Sadly, there weren’t any furry friends in attendance at the dog park. I glanced at the position of the sun and concluded we had a short wait before we were joined by other visitors.

After a short while, an elderly man and his pup were seen on the horizon. Roxy spotted them easily. Eagerly wagging her tail, she awaited their arrival. I quickly reminded her that she was being given an opportunity to redeem herself; tabula rasa and what not.

The man and his dog came closer and closer. I could see Roxy starting to pant. Deciding it was a good idea that she play freely, I naively took her leash off. I briefed the Significant Other on how he should intercept our little Miss the second she showed any sign of returning to her wicked ways.

Roxy avidly greeted her new friend with a wag of her tail. However, he didn’t seem too interested in her comely appearance. Roxy, not one to admit defeat, danced around him enthusiastically. Yet, this wasn’t enough to illicit a response from the other canine.

Roxy did not give up. She barked, wagged her tail even faster, lifted a paw in greeting, and even tried to kiss him. Nada. Zilch. Nix. Our new furry friend seemed oblivious to little Roxy’s charms.

I turned to grab my camera but stopped midway when I heard an ominous growl. In less than 2.1 seconds, the transformation was complete. Roxy, teeth barred and claws at the ready, had metamorphosed into mini Cujo.

The man, in shock at what he was witnessing, tried to pull his dog away. Roxy wouldn’t have it. She circled both of them like a turbulent tornado intent on destroying whatever lay in its path.

The Significant Other, completely taken aback by Roxy’s reaction, stood rooted to the spot even while I screamed at him to take action. By this time, the old man spun around in circles and the small dog flew through the air like a super hero.

Roxy, intent on leaving no prisoners behind, circled voraciously. And then, the worst imaginable thing happened–the little dog got loose. He ran toward the cemetery which lay a hundred yards in front of us. Roxy took off in pursuit and the old man followed.

In the meantime, the Significant Other remained frozen in the same spot. Fortunately, my piercing screams brought him out of his catatonic state and allowed him to join the mad race. Horrified, I saw the other dog crawl under a hole in the fence and head into the cemetery. Cursing, panting, and groaning ensued.

A few minutes later, the Significant Other returned with our wayward friend. Roxy averted my gaze as I reprimanded her but then lifted her snout as if to say, “It wasn’t my fault.” My sharp, “Don’t even go there!” indicated I was not pleased with her actions. Just then, the Significant Other returned from helping the man capture his dog.

“Just a quiet, relaxing afternoon in the dog park, you said. I don’t get paid enough to do this job.”

“You don’t get paid at all.”

“And how would you classify the elevated spurts of blood pressure, tachycardia, and shortness of breath?”

“Marginal benefits to living with two colorful butterflies.”

“Don’t you mean, two lethal black widows?”

Chuckling, we turned to leave. We hadn’t taken but a few steps when we saw another dog and his human approaching. The breath caught in our throats.

“This time, you do the running and I do the screaming,” said the Significant Other.

To be continued…

Roxy says, "It was all him."

Roxy says, “It was all him.”

After so much action, there's nothing left to do but rest.

After so much action, there’s nothing left to do but rest.

Roxy admits, "Okay, I may have been partly to blame."

Roxy admits, “Okay, I may have been partly to blame.”