[College in Idaho. Warm spring day. I have 5 roommates (well, 4 apartment-mates, one room roommate). All are older than me. At least one has a criminal record. Several have tattoos. This is atypical for this particular college’s demographic].
Tattooed, Possibly Criminal Apartment Mate (“TPCAM”): “Hey dude, you want to walk to class?”
[We proceed. Stepping out into the crosswalk just down from our apartment, our toes are literally inches from being run over by a HUGE cherry red F(probably)5000 dually pickup truck flying not less than 75 MPH through a school zone. TPCAM does what comes naturally and lets his middle finger fly. F5000 screeches to a stop and comes flying in reverse at least as fast as it went. A mountain of a man, 6’5″ or better, built like a tank, storms out of the truck, red as a beat, shaking like a rabid dog, and foaming at the mouth. He is wearing a sleeveless flannel shirt, Wranglers, crap/mud-covered work/cowboy boots, a John Deere hat, and furious/dazed/stupid Bubba look on his face. He was a farm boy, through and through, I could tell instantly: massive, quasi-literate, dumber than dirt. Probably had a dead deer and about 25 Skoal empties in the back of his dually right then].
Farm Boy: “Wha’d you just do ta me?” he spat/drawled.
TPCAM [a tough guy, bigger than me, but about half this guy’s size]: “Uh…nothing.”
Farm Boy: [seeming to get even angrier at this untruth] “No, I seen what you did. You put up that there middle finger.”
TPCAM: [bolder now] “No I didn’t.”
Farm Boy: [shakier and redder] “Yes you DID! I done SEEN it. Do you think I’s stupid?”
TPCAM: [smirking] “well…”
Farm Boy: [turning to me] “He done it! Didn’t he done it?”
Me: “Didn’t he done it???” Grammatically stupefied, I couldn’t do anything but repeat his question.
Farm Boy: [to me still] “Didn’t he???” Emphatic.
Me: “I don’t know…” I started, not meaning I didn’t know whether he had or not. I knew he had. But I didn’t know what Bubba had said exactly. Or meant. And honestly didn’t know, with all those ill-phrased double negatives, what a properly accurate response would have been.
Farm Boy: [to me] “You too, huh? Well I got something for both of you.”
[He pulled up the non-existent sleeve on his right arm, and hauled the arm back making a lunch box sized fist. It was clear he was first taking aim at TPCAM, which only seemed fitting, considering he was the only one that had done anything wrong. It was like time froze. I knew what I was supposed to do, had been in fights before, had the angle, and wasn’t scared to hit somebody. I just didn’t know, in this particular instance, if it was going to do any good.]
[Thankfully, right then…]
Professor [one of mine, incidentally]: “Hey, what’s going on?”
Me: “Nothing, professor.”
Bubba: “Nothin’, sir.”
Professor: “Get to class.”
Bubba: “I ain’t got no class to go to.”
Professor: “Well maybe you should get one. Violence is ignorant. It doesn’t solve anything.”
[Bubba, looking duly chastised, and downright ashamed of himself, slumped his shoulders, put down his fist, and slumped back to his truck. The Professor walked on, shaking his head in obvious disappointment with all of us].
TPCAM: “Man, why didn’t you hit that guy? You had him. If I’d had your angle, I would have nailed him.”
Me: “Whatever, dude.”
[I’m convinced we almost died that day. That guy could have broken me in half, I am quite sure of it. With friends like TPCAM, you don’t need any of your own enemies. Moral of the story: don’t flip off farm boys in pickup trucks, no matter how dumb they look].