Wednesday, December 07, 2005

My First Fight

The barely healed scratches from basketball
I can't say I haven't been in a fight anymore.

At the ballcourt near my place, sometimes we get older dudes/uncles joining us kind gentle little boys in playing ball.
They play tough and rough, like it's a real game instead of a pickup.

Usually we end up losing the game if there's an uncle on the other team, because other than the fact that a lot of them are former state players who can't jump anymore but shoot as accurately as Robin Hood, I don't really fancy pushing and shoving older people who are weaker than me. It's just a game after all. And there's a built-in instinct to defer to my elders, call them "Uncle" and grant them goodwill when there's a conflict. Most of the guys feel the same, so unless we get an uncle on our team(in which case they'll mark each other and cancel each other out), we usually back off and let him do his thing.
About two weeks ago there was this uncle on the opposing team. He was half a head shorter than me, and played the uncles usually do, rough and tough. Only he didn't play fair, and gave me the scratches you see in the picture above. I can pretty much reach the rim, and he would give me a long rake down my forearm whenever I went up for a layup and he couldn't reach my height. Notice that all the scratches end about the level of my knuckles. He couldn't reach higher. After the first scratch, I came down and told him in mandarin,"Come on uncle. No need to be so rough lah. It's just a pickup game."
"BASKETBALL MAH!! LIKE THAT ONE LAH!!! What?!? Sure got accident wan mah! Haiya!"
I was a bit peeved. I know accidents happen in basketball(look at my nose closely in my profile picture, it's bent to one side because of a rogue cannon shot), and I also know that his amateurish scrape was malicious rather than accidental, intended to discourage me from rising up against his tiny stature and layup against him. I was also a bit irritated at his tone, because he not only didn't apologise, he spoke in a loud tone of voice that seemed to insinuate that I was an amateur and scratches were normal.
The next layup he banged sideways into me after I cut past him. I shouted a loud "Foul!" as I landed. The guys gave me raised eyebrows. I never got pissed.
"WHAT? WHAT? THERE'S NO FOUL!!! HEIYER.... *cynical laugh and shake of head*"
"Relax uncle. You fouled me. You hit me sideways."
And then he scratched me again.
And again. And he pushed me around like I was nice to be bullied.
I let him push me like I let everyone else push me. I don't think it's nice to use my strength when I already have speed to compete with everyone else, especially in a casual game. I didn't mind the shoving around, it was the scratching that had me a bit annoyed.
And then he scratched me one last time.
I decided I had enough, thought the whole thing through calmly, mostly regretting that I could no longer tell people that I had never been in a fight, and then I shoved the ball right into his chest, HARD.
"What? What?"He said in a clipped, intimidating Uncle voice with his hands apart, chin raised, and chest puffed up in an aggresive manner.
I laughed inside, put on a furious look outside, and calmly punched him right in the face. HARD.
He crashed to the ground as the entire playground erupted in a loud "whoah!"
Calmly and without waiting, I jumped onto him, pulled his lapels with my left hand, and punched him repeatedly with my right, not too hard to injure, but hard enough to make him grunt in pain.
I pretended to be worked up and really pissed off as the guys dragged me off him.
"YOu..... YOU BEAT PEOPLE WAN AH!?!?" He shouted indignantly, holding his (uninjured, well, except for the first punch, but it was too nice to resist) face and climbing up.
"Yalah you! Faster say sorry to uncle lah! Where can beat people wan?" My friend S berated me in a loud tone of voice, a twinkle in his eye.
I made to rush at the uncle again, with a pretend furious look on my face(I was laughing my ass off inside) and he stalked off the playground(I think he would've run if the guys weren't holding me).
After he left, S said,"Hehe. Nice one man. I also feel like whacking the old bastard already."
I grinned back at him and said,"I bet he's not coming back anytime soon."
I'm proud of my first fight:
  • It was in the face of blatant and repeated aggravation, which I tolerated more than I should have.
  • It was perfectly planned and executed, modulating it so that I didn't hurt him, just reinforce the idea that bullying young men when you're almost half a century old is not a good idea.
  • I landed a perfect punch, a really satisfying thwack to his cheek, when the nearest I've come to a fight was sparring with protective gear in a gym with a boxing friend of mine.
  • He couldn't return even one hit on me. All the scratches I got were during the game.

And MOST importantly,

  • I was not angry, and in perfect control of my emotions when I decided to act as I did. I'm super-proud of that. I could have been a total barbarian and rearranged his face, and most people would not have faulted me for being so, but I managed, in that tense situation, to make sure that I didn't even bruise him. Just short sharp jabs to the face that hurt for the moment.

I regret having to resort to physical violence though. It's a sign of weakness when the only way you can get a message through is to hit someone. I was brought up with the important lesson that I must always defend the weak and never to pick a fight with anyone smaller than me. And so before that fateful evening two weeks ago, I have never been in a fight. I have never taken advantage of my physique to bully anyone(other than my sister when I was younger, but sisters are for bullying, but I love her and watch out for her too).

I've boxed a bit for fitness, but I'm gaining an interest in mastering streetfighting and maybe muay thai to protect myself and my loved ones if I have to, but I hope fervently, torridly, desperately that I will never never ever have to raise my fists and inflict violence ever again. Ever.

I told this story to Sheng Wai and Ong, and SW immediately started fantasising about joining me the next time someone tried to bully me. He wanted to work the guy over with a steering lock "after you whack him up nicely". I tried to explain to him that I wasn't telling the story to encourage him to whack people, but his eyes had already glazed over imagining how he was bashing someone up.

He said,"Ya. ya. Shouldn't whack people.... but next time if you see him on the street you just drop everything and rush at him lah! Sure he will run one!" I give up.

Ong started chuckling and shaking his head, probably couldn't believe that I would bash someone, let alone a 40-year old man. He knew about the story of me being cut in standard one, when this hyperactive kid decided I was a nice target and cut me with a pocket knife a few times. When my dad asked me why I didn't squash him(I was the biggest in my class then), I said,"because you told me I cannot beat someone that's smaller sized than me!" So Ong understood my rationale, but still couldn't believe I would whack an Uncle.

The other day when I retold my story to Haan Chiang and Sheng Wai was also there, his fist started to bunch up as he started fantasising about whacking up defenceless people 6 to 1 again.

"No. No. Where got fair. Whack uncle liau somore want 6 whack 1 ah? Aiyoh...."

"No-mah. Must teach him a lesson mah!"

*Sigh* I give up.

Warning to all aggressive Uncles, do not cross Chow Sheng Wai, he will run you over with his Waja, work you over with his steering lock, and then call his gang and smash you. Then he will go to your house and seduce your daughter(and your wife, if she's pretty enough). I hope I haven't 'inspired' him, but don't say I didn't warn you.

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