Rereading that story recently reminded me of something that happened when I was twelve. Those of you who haven’t known me long will find this hard to believe, but I was a scrawny, wimpy little kid. I had a big mouth with nothing to back it up. So anyway, I made some smartass remark to this older kid who lived on my block. Let’s call him Moe. I guess ol’ Moe must have been fourteen or fifteen at the time, and he had at least twenty pounds on me.
As soon as the words came out of my mouth, Moe commenced whaling on me. I’d like to say I fought back as best I could, but that would be a lie. Moe knocked me down with one shove, sat on my chest and used my head for a punching bag. When you’re a wimpy little wiseass, you learn to accept such things as the price of doing business.
In the normal course of events, the beating would have lasted a minute or two. Then the big moron would get bored and wander off. I’d wash off the blood and hope my lips didn’t swell up too much. No big deal. Like Jean Shepherd once said, “In the jungles of kid-dom, the mind switches gears rapidly.”
Here’s where it all went wrong…
My grandmother happened to look out the window. She saw Moe beating the stink out of me right on our front lawn. Grandma grabbed a broom and came screaming out of the house. Busting some pretty good moves for a 78 year-old, she laid into Moe with that broom. Then she chased him halfway down the block.
I knew right then I was screwed. The story of how I let my grandmother fight my battles would be all over town by the end of the day. Worse, Moe wanted payback for getting a broom handle upside his head.
A year or so later, Moe held up a Stop and Shop with a pellet gun. He got away with a carton of smokes and a few bucks’ cash. If I remember right, he barely had time to light one up before the cops snagged him.
So what’s the moral to my heart-warming tale?
It’s simple: sometimes the best thing you can do is just take the beating.
Oh, and: it’s still armed robbery, even if you “only” use a pellet gun.