Friday, November 04, 2005

Street Cred

(Subtitle: How Russell Crowe Steals my Moves and Makes Them Uncool)

Oh yeah, I’ve got it beyotches. I’ve got it in spades. The primary source of my street cred (besides my awe inspiring presence and the fact that I roll with a phat posse) is my second trip to the pokey. The first one was for unpaid traffic tickets and was an adventure unto itself (I got picked up on a Sunday afternoon having just finished a nice big Mexican lunch and wearing my gear from the lacrosse game), however the reason for my second trip to the gray bar hotel was for assault with a telephone. That’s right, yours truly attacked a dude with a telephone. A payphone no less.

First let me set the scene for you. This took place in either 1997 or 1998 which is before my move to College Station. At the time I was living in a garage apartment across the Gulf Freeway (I-45 South) from the University of Houston central campus. I was down the street from what, in my years at UH, we referred to as the Kombat Kroger due to the rough nature of the neighborhood. (Upon reflection I wonder how rough the neighborhood actually was and how much of our wariness of the neighborhood stemmed from the fact that we were primarily upper-middle class white kids from suburbia.) During my time as a resident of the neighborhood, it consisted primarily of Hispanic families with a few older Caucasian couples who had lived there forever. All in all it was a very pleasant experience, and to be honest, if I could get that apartment again, I would in a heartbeat (except that the landlord was an ass.)

This is also the time period where I was involved in a long term long distance relationship (the end of which I have discussed here.) The most important ingredient in a long distance relationship is regular communication and by this I mean you need to keep in touch with each other. To this end I was spending a lot of time on the phone which was problematic as due to a dispute with the phone company, I did not have a phone in the casa. Fortunately for the health of my relationship, there was a pay phone less than a block from my house and MCI had their phone home for free plan, so as long as her number was the home number I was calling, the calls did not cost anything beyond the monthly service charge. Perfect. However this meant that I was spending a fair amount of time on the corner talking on the pay phone.

One night while I was on the phone, this couple came walking down the street. From their body language it was plain that they were arguing about something and soon I could smell the alcohol on them. I was hoping they would just go on past me, heading down the street to Kroger for some cigarettes or something. Sadly this was not to be, the girl apparently needed to call someone in Alaska and the guy with her did not want this to happen for some reason. I am not sure if her need to talk to Alaska was the source of their fight, or a result of an earlier fight, but suffice to say it was quickly becoming the focus of their evening. She would dial a number and maybe get a word or two in before he managed to hang-up the phone. As this was going on she was getting a little more hysterical about whatever it was and in my mind I was begging them to go the fuck away.

I told my partner what was going on as best I could in a whisper and told her that I might have to hang up all the sudden if things got ugly. They were still carrying on and I was thinking to myself, “Come on guys, get this crap out of here, please,” and then, “Just don’t hit her, just don’t hit her.” Almost the instant I thought that I heard that soft but crunchy sound that a fist makes when connecting with someone’s face followed immediately by a wail. He fucking hit her. I couldn’t believe it, my nice evening chat was devolving into an episode of Cops and fast. She grabbed on to my coat, which still has a little bit of blood on it, and was screaming about him hitting her. I hung up the phone, called 911 and told them what had happened and where we were. The operator asked if we needed an ambulance to which I responded, “Probably yes, if he doesn’t back off.” This whole time I was trying to maneuver my body to keep it between them, hoping that I could keep them apart long enough for the cops to show up and get the situation under control.

That was not to be. This jackass kept coming after the girl. I have mentioned once or twice on here that I am a large man (6’4” according to the government, although I think it is closer to 6’2”) and at this point I was in probably the best shape of my life (I was playing hockey at least three times a week and practicing lacrosse on Saturdays.) I was at least a head taller than this guy and he was thin and by thin I mean creepy junkie thin. I pushed him away and told him that the cops were on the way and it would be best for everyone if he just pissed off. He did not heed my advice and tried to get at her again. I was already on edge. In my worldview you don’t hit women. I may joke about women’s lib opening that door, but in reality YOU DO NOT HIT WOMEN. Ever. (This is why I will never be a good dome.) When he came after her again I lost it. I wish I could say this was the moment I bellowed my battle-cry, however since I still don’t have one, I just went to work. It was on like Donkey Kong. I managed to land two or three blows with the phone receiver before we stepped out of range and I had to go mano e mano on his scrawny ass.

By the time the police arrived I had him pinned to the ground and was threatening to bounce his head off the pavement if he didn’t calm down. Initially the police were going to let me go, however one of the older officers felt the need to take me to jail along with the scrawny dude. Thus I got to spend a couple of nights in the clink before everything was straightened out and I was once again a free man, but this time with street cred.

(Originally I wanted to get my mug shot to accompany this post, but I don’t feel like spending $100 to have some PI agency get it for me and I haven’t been motivated enough to get in touch with the City of Houston or Harris County to try and track it down, so you will have to endure the tale sans mugshot.)

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