Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Large Car Stereo, Small Penis

Oh boy. I'm becoming a Dad. A real, certifiable Dad.

Yesterday afternoon Alexander didn't have his regular nap, and so as it neared his bed time, he was really tired. At about 7:55, after his bath and the fun ritual of brushing his teeth (which is mostly just chewing on his tooth brush, trying to grab Daddy's tooth brush and giggling when flicking the brush bristles in Daddy's face), he started to settle down in my arms relatively quickly. As his eyes started closing this ominous deep base pounding started rattling the room. This often happens when a yahoo with bigger speakers than brains drives his car past the house. But the pounding didn't stop - and it was loud - really loud -- so loud, in fact, that I thought perhaps Francine had some music on in the CRV in the garage immediately below Alexander's bedroom (she'd been outside watering the flowers and had a tough day - sometimes loud music is a good way to unwind).

Alexander's eyes started opening to the beat of the pounding base, which didn't go away. It easily cut through the gentle and calming sounds from the radio in his room - we have it tuned in to Wave 94.7, a Hamilton area smooth jazz radio station, which he has become accustomed to fall asleep to. I was eventually able to soothe him to sleep with a rocking motion, and, for the life of me, I don't understand how he was able to stay asleep. The pounding base was occasionally rattling the window panes. Once he'd been asleep for ten minutes, I laid him down in the crib - every deep thud of the annoying sound intrusion made me sure that he would wake, suddenly startled - and quietly left his room, eager to seek out the idiot and his car stereo.

A quick glance through windows revealed that the offending vehicle wasn't parked anywhere on the street near our house. I went outside and asked Fran - she said she couldn't figure out where it was coming from. I handed her the baby monitor and told her I was going to find and deal with it (in my head thinking I was going to be crafty like Seinfeld's George Costanza and tell whoever this offending idiot was that the jerk store called).

I walked down to the end of our block, turned right and spotted what I figured was the offending vehicle. About halfway down the block across the street there were a bunch of people sitting on their deck, and the car (a yellowish-brown late model boat of a car) was parked in front of it. As I got closer it struck me as a Hamilton bleached up and lower-middle class white version of a "Boyz n the Hood" scene. At the car was a middle aged and extremely ugly woman -- dressed like she was pretending she was still a teenager, but that ship had left a couple of decades ago at least -- leaning in the passenger window and a young punk who couldn't have been more than twenty-two sitting in the driver's seat and playing with the volume of his stereo.

I grinned at the woman, who suddenly got an "oh oh" look on her face, and stuck my head in the driver's side window. The punk inside was blond with a brush cut and at least 3 or 4 visible tattoos on his neck, shoulders and arms. I asked him if he could turn down the stereo because my son was trying to sleep and that even though our house was more than half a block away, the windows of our house were rattling. In what I believe must be some sort of fatherly logic I finished with. "It's just not necessary."

Now, I don't know what he thought I meant by the statement, but he'd already turned the music down (so he could hear me most likely), and at that point he quickly got out of the car and stood in my face with his chest thrust out and repeated my phrase back to me. The look on his face was as if I'd told him his mother rode a vacuum cleaner or that playing his car stereo that loud was merely announcing to the whole neighbourhood how incredibly small his penis was. As he stood there, I was no longer in a white version of "Boys n the Hood" but was instead facing Vin Diesel's character from "xXx" -- sure, at 6' 3" and 230 lbs, I'm no slouch, but this guy was seriously pumped. He was a few inches shorter than me, but his muscles had muscles of their own and his body language boldly stated that physical confrontation was just another "day in the life" for this guy.

I may look large but I'm certainly not a fighter -- not that I can't handle myself; I'd been in numerous situations like this before, years before actually, when I was a security guard -- it was usually during concerts or events where alcohol was being served, and I'd find myself trying to break up a fight between two big bruisers or pulling some big gorilla off a smaller person getting his head kicked in. As I stood there, certain that he was going to throw a punch, I decided to play the "I'm not afraid of you" tactic. I glanced over at the car (the music was turned down, goal accomplished), as if casual and not aware of his offensive stance, then smiled at him and said in a bright and cheery voice: "Thanks very much." Then, the risky calculated move, I turned on one heel -- presenting him my back and leaving myself completely vulnerable to an attack -- and slowly started walking away.

I could feel the heat of his glare on the back of my neck, and after two steps could feel my muscles tensing, preparing for him to jump me. I flashed back to some simple yet effective judo moves my buddy Taki had tought me years ago, preparing to dodge to the side, grab his shirt and let his foreward momentum help me slide his face into the street. The shadows around my feet so far revealed that he hadn't moved, and after another step I heard the skank mutter "turn it up" -- by that time I knew he'd decided not to attack, and thus my bluff had worked.

As I continued walking down the street, attempting to look calm and not glancing back, I could feel the unused adrenaline start to burn through my muscles and I started thinking about what I'd just done - I'd acted like a Dad - I'd complained to a younger person about loud music. And just a day after my first Father's Day, no less.

Gee, maybe the punk didn't attack me because he didn't want to hurt an old man? Without being obvious, I glanced down at my sandals to see if I happened to be wearing white socks. Relief flooded through me - I wasn't. Like the young Luke Skywalker in the first Star Wars movie, I wasn't a fully fledged Dad (Jedi), but I was well on my path. I guess it's only a matter of time before the combination of white knee-high socks and sandals becomes a part of who I am, before I completely lose my ability to comprehend basic laws of physics and tell Alexander to close the door because I'm not paying to heat the outdoors, or before "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" become my television programs of choice.

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