Archive for January 10th, 2007

Gory Detail

I am thankful for the fact that it is quite a while, nearly a decade, since I last got punched in the face. What happened was that a friend of mine was talking to a girl at a rather tender moment in that girl’s relationship with her boyfriend, i.e. the girl had her arms around my friend’s neck and her boyfriend was driving past in a car with his friends.

I was sitting on a wall nearby, struggling with a late night battered sausage and chips, and oblivious to the conversation. The first I knew that something was wrong was when I felt a stinging sensation in my nose, and then a stinging sensation in my lip, and an instant later I realised that I was getting punched in the face. The puncher, it turned out, was one of the offended boyfriend’s friends.

Now, I’m not quite sure what my reaction was, but I don’t recall saying anything of any great wit. I imagine it was something like “ow! ow! Get the hell off me.” To compound the misfortune, moments of sudden stress induce in me an involuntary falsetto – more Smokey Robinson than Bee Gee, it is true, but wildly inappropriate for the circumstances. Apparently when you’ve had your nose busted, what you should do is snort the blood back through your nostrils and spit it out at your aggressor, but not even this occurred to me. Rather, I did nothing of note, and someone else dragged my opponent away.

The point then, is that I admire snappy comebacks in violent situations, like this one from Gore Vidal after getting punched by Norman Mailer:

Crime: Comparing “The Prisoner of Sex” to “three days of menstrual flow” and Mailer to Charles Manson.

Action taken:
Head-butting him in the green room of The Dick Cavett Show in 1971, then telling him, on-air, that he ruined Kerouac by sleeping with him. Six years later, he threw a drink at Vidal—and punched him—at a Lally Weymouth soirée.

Still on the floor, Vidal said, “Words fail Norman Mailer yet again.”

Via the Angry Arab.

Not that such a riposte would have been adequate in my case, as I suspect that my assailant was not a novelist. But inspiring nonetheless.

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January 2007