Bizarro is brought to you today by Mug Shots.
I've never been mugged, but I'm sure it's a harrowing experience that would bother me for a long time. I've been in a couple of impromptu street scuffles in the past five years, just because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it's pretty awful. I didn't get anything more than a fat lip and a few bruises, fortunately, but it is not the sort of activity I'm anxious to get into again. Even though the stories are fun to tell later.
One was when my wife and I were freezing cold and looking for a cab late at night in NYC. We finally got one to stop and a drunk guy jumped into the cab ahead of us after I opened the door. The driver said, "No, I stopped for them." I said, "That's our cab." The drunk guy said, "I don't think so!" and continued to climb in. The only thing left outside the cab was his shin, so I gave it a good hard kick. I was wearing dress shoes, so it must have hurt a lot. He jumped out and came after me, shouting something like, "Did you just kick me, you motherf*cker?!" I took it as a rhetorical question and did not answer. In his inebriated state, I was able to dodge him as he pursued me around in circles. Meanwhile, CHNW jumped into the cab, I followed, and we took off. All's well that ends well.
The other time was in Rome when we were walking with another American couple down a busy shopping street on a sunny, Sunday afternoon. All of us are animal rights folks, so when we passed a fur store, CHNW and the female half of the other couple both spat on the sidewalk in front of it. We didn't know until we had walked another 25 feet down the street that the family that owns the store had seen us. Apparently, spitting in Italy is more serious than here.
Four people rushed out of the store – a couple in their 40s and a couple in their 70s – and we turned to confront them. With words, or so we thought. For a few seconds, the womenfolk were content to shout at each other in their native languages. But suddenly, up to the forefront rushed the 70-year-old man. Think Robert Deniro in Raging Bull, with white hair. Without warning, he punched our friend's wife right in the jaw and knocked her down. Unpleasantness ensued, including punching, kicking, scratching and screaming.
Fortunately, passersby pulled us apart after a couple of minutes and we all went our separate ways. None of our attackers spoke English, none of us spoke Italian, so we can only assume we were fighting about the same thing.
Before we spit on the sidewalk in front of any more Italian-owned fur stores, CHNW and I are going to take one of these self defense courses.
These are completely unexaggerated, true stories, by the way.