When I was a little kid, we lived near a very strange family. They were a large family and their youngest daughter, their second youngest child, was one of my best friends. Even though they were slightly off, I spent a lot of time over there. They even had a pool. And in spite of my plethora of ear problems I really liked to swim.
Dana was her name. And now that I’m removed from them and the naivety of my youth, I know that her parents were probably swingers. And they came nowhere near receiving a Parent of the Year Award. They were sloppy. Hanging out at Dana’s unkempt house with her three siblings, her horribly smelly dog (who, I was told, was allergic to itself and therefore spent the majority of its day chewing itself raw), and her drunken parents was like visiting the inside of a Rick Moody story.
My time spent with The Smith’s was an eye-opening life experience. And I can pretty much trace much of my current neurotic behaviors back to them. The way I feel about animals is directly related to how Dana’s dad would go on and on about meat and how it’s prepared. The first time I saw boobs are anything naked was at Dana’s house. The first time I saw scary movies was at Dana’s house. Each time, I would become terrified and the walk to and from her house at dusk would become some of the most horrific minutes of my childhood. I was afraid of everything back then and it never helped that Dana’s dad would go on and on about how haunted their house was. And how some of those spirits were nasty, ready to turn on them if they acted up in any way.
But I’ll never forget the day he showed us The Tape. It was a tape of a boxing match. More importantly, it was a tape of a man who had died during a boxing match. And to this day, I have no way of knowing if what I watched was indeed real or not. He said it was real footage. And my 7-year-old head saw it as real, more real than anything I’d ever seen before. Much more real than the time that fella took his face apart in Poltergeist or Johnny Depp was sucked into that bed which later erupted into a volcanic explosion of human blood and guts. This was real to me. That’s all that matters. And it was also pornographic, in my opinion.
The fight between these two men went on and on and on. Eventually, one man was beat to death by the other boxer. The skin on his face fell apart from it as if it was cooked like a piece of chicken. You could see his eye sockets, drooping more and more with each blow. I kept thinking, “WHY WON’T THAT MAN STOP! HE’S WON! FINALLY, HE’S WON! SHOW MERCY! Show mercy on that man.”
At age 7 it was a horrible thing to witness. And to this day I attribute my fear of fighting, abusive, ugly, mean, fist-flying, testosterone-filled men with having watched that fight. Now, I can’t handle even a second of physical violence. I simply despise boxing. If I had any power whatsoever, I would outlaw it. I hate seeing fights break out. I can’t tolerate abuse in any way. And nine times out of ten, if I do happen to see it, I will break down and start to cry. I watch potentially violent movies with my eyes closed if I watch them at all. I spent 30 minutes in a bathroom one night trying to sit through a violent film. Knives, guns and action flicks I can handle, beatings, I can not.
Yesterday, I was sitting on the couch waiting for Toby to figure out where we’d consume our 4th of July American-style meal, when I noticed I got an email from my friend, Dan, in England. I’ve known Dan for a long, long time. I met him when I lived there. I was 20 years old when I met Dan. Dan is the sweetest, skinniest, tallest, most adorable British boy there is. Not only is he adorable, but he’s unbelievably kind as well. Dan will stick up for any friend, no matter what. I adore Dan. Everyone adores Dan. It’s impossible not to.
About two weeks ago, Dan was beaten almost to death outside of a bar in London. As one may have guessed, he was sticking up for a girl friend who was being hassled by a group of men. I guess the men didn’t take to kindly to Dan butting in and so they beat him. Repeatedly. And badly.
I was overcome with emotion. I began to cry instantly. I wanted to call him right then and there. But I didn’t have his phone number. I read only the first half of the email, which was strewn with errors because his right arm was broken in two, before I had to stop reading.
I don’t even know what to say or write. To discover that ANY living being on Earth has the ability to hurt a person like Dan was almost impossible to grasp. I thought for a second that this is no longer a place I wish to be. I am grateful that he’s OK. But I am disgusted with my own kind. What in God’s name is wrong with us? What have we done with this?
People need to put their fists back into their pockets or we should have them removed. What a cowardly bunch of buffoons we are. Shame on us for acting less than animal.