I watch TV, certainly more than I should. I do not mindlessly channel surf, I have a DVR to record the things that I want to watch; there's probably not much of a distinction between the two. Anyway, a show I watch is a half-hour comedy called "Louie", on FX. It's based on the life and experiences of a comedian (played by real-life comic Louis C.K.). I would call it a rougher variant of shows like "Seinfeld" and "Curb Your Enthasium". What's very good about these kinds of shows, is that in addition to being very funny, they depict realistic situations that many of us can relate to, and in fact, at least a few of us have experienced ourselves first-hand.
Such a situation for me occurred in last week's episode, entitled "Bully". "Louie" is also shown on the online service Hulu, although episodes don't appear until 8 days after they premiere on TV (I'll try to remember to post a link when this episode comes up). In the episode, Louie is on a date and he takes her to a donut shop, where they have a donut and coffee. Upon talking, a group of high-school punks come in the store and are being very rowdy. Louie is not able to converse with his date due to the noise that these guys are making. He tells them to keep it down, and one of the kids comes up to him. The kid says to him, "when was the last time you got your ass kicked?" After a minute or two of back-and-forth, the kid says that if Louie tells him "please don't kick my ass", then he won't. With great reluctance, Louie does tell the kid to not kick his ass, please, and the kids walk out, mocking him. His date is very turned off by this, and tells him, "my mind is telling me that you're a great guy, but the chemistry is telling me that you're a loser". That is not the end of the story, but that is pretty much the gist of it.
I could relate very much to this particular situation, as a similar (but at the same time, different) scanario happened to me around 6 months ago. I haven't blogged on it because it took place at my job, but enough time has passed, and this episode struck such a chord in me, that now seems the appropriate time to recollect. I work with a man who is extremely irritable and always grumpy. From the day I started there, his interactions with me have been all attitude. I have a thick skin and a tendency to turn the other cheek (which, with this man, I have learned can be a vital weakness as well as a strength and virtue). One day, he pushed me too far by making a comment about how I do my job, which I take very sensitively, as I feel I do at least a better-than-average job, as my employers and fellow employees have told me. I finally spoke up, quite loudly, and he of course, gave no quarter and was very hostile. He then told me to pipe down before he'd put "a foot in my ass". I then told him to go fuck himself, and he stepped closer and said "I'll kick your ass". All the time my boss is shouting my name, understandly worried that a fight would break out. I really did not want to walk away from this geriatric thug (this guy is at least 65 and very out-of-shape, so I certainly am not physically intimidated by him), but at the same time, fighting him could have very well cost me my job, even if he did start it. So I reluctantly did so, and reported the incident; as it was not the first time I'd had a run-in with this guy, I was somewhat hopeful that they'd discipline him in a meaningful and substantive fashion.
Which, of course, they did not. After repeated inquiries (my job insists on doing these types of things privately, so I had no knowledge of any disciplinary measure or warning that took place), I was merely told that he was "talked to". So that encounter is something I still think about a lot. I question whether walking away was the right thing to do. Although there's really no telling what would have happened had worse come to worse and we slugged it out, I had felt that walking away was the very worst thing that I could do, even though it really is supposed to be the right thing. I think of how weak I must have looked to him and those who witnessed it.
So this episode of "Louie", again, did strike something in me. When someone comes up to you and threatens you, what really is the right thing to do? Sure, if you're merely a bystander (or a viewer), you unleash your inner Steven Seagal and think "what's the matter with this guy? Kick his ass!" But in reality, I feel that most of us would have probably frozen up like Louie did, even if the end result is for us to lose face in front of our dates or friends. I do feel that I did do the right thing in my situation, but also felt that I lost some of my dignity in the process.
As an aside, that scene also showed that the widespread claim that a woman prefers a man who is gentle and thoughtful is typically full of shit. It is a woman's most basic instinct to prefer the alpha male; I only look at all the situations I've seen or have heard about to know that this is the case.
So, I'm just wondering, if you are reading this, what would you have done in Louie's case, or in mine?
"Bully" is not up on Hulu yet, but when it is (probably on Wednesday), I'll post a link.