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April 02, 2006

Fighting, Manliness, Freedom, and the Last Frontier

One of my favorite things about blogging is the way it often turns into a huge freeform discussion, sometimes on site, sometimes continuing offline via email or phone conversations, hopping from one blog to another. It just fascinates me. Another thing I love is the sheer connected-ness of ideas: the way even thoughts which, at first glance, may not appear to have anything to do with each other often end up (at least in the zig-zagging breadcrumb trail that is my mind) taking me to totally unanticipated destinations.

Considering the topic of today's peroration, it is perhaps not surprising that the trouble all started with mr rdr, who is himself a veritable feast of manliness. Last week, he sent me a wonderful WSJ piece (unfortunately subscription-only) that has been driving me mad all week because I kept seeing things in it that applied to different topics. But there was also the germ of an idea in the back of my mind that I didn't have a place for, which strangely enough wasn't really the focus of the article at all. It lay in this line:

For Shakespeare, inflexible virtue becomes its opposite, vice. The subtlety of his understanding of the human predicament is incomparable. We pride ourselves, perhaps rightly, on our vast accumulation of scientific and other knowledge; but when it comes to self-knowledge, self-understanding, I doubt that we shall ever progress beyond him.

Believe it or not, that paragraph has been worrying at me all week. They say the first step in the recovery process is admitting that you have a problem.

Oddly enough, I started out thinking I would apply the article, about the play Coriolanus, the protagonist of which is a noble Roman consul too honest to hide his scorn of the vulgar plebians, to the Abdul Rahman story and George Bush. As with most of Shakespeare's plays, things do not end well. The Bard's characters tend to be larger than life, and twinned with their outsized virtues are tragic flaws, often the obverse of the very qualities which make them great. For Coriolanus, his downfall is virtue carried to such extremes that it becomes rigid and inflexible and so, what was within moderation admirable, turns to evil.

But during the week I ended up linking to this piece about young men adrift, in my opinion because they've been emasculated and infantilized by an increasingly out of kilter, feminized society; and as a result my fellow bloggers have given me quite a bit to think about. Grim dropped the next crumb on the trail, and as usual, it was quite thought-provoking:

Nothing could be more natural to a young man than fighting other young men, not just for people but for anyone: it's featured in every nature documentary ever made.

We need a way to expand this concept into the main American society, so that young men will be freer to express themselves naturally. We also need, however, to continue to constrain fighting: like drinking, it can be a good thing that relieves tension and adds to the pleasure of life; but it can also be very destructive to you and others around you.

I propose, then, what I shall call "the Fair Fight Bill." I suggest you write your state representatives and suggest that the laws in all 50 states should come to include it.

Now I had to laugh at my initial reaction to this, which was a decidedly feminine, "Eeeeewwwww!!!!"

I haven't seen many fights. I suppose I've lead a sheltered life. I saw one in the parking lot outside our townhouse when we lived in Annapolis about 15 years ago and I remember that it really upset me hearing the smack! of one man's fist on another's flesh. They were really going at each other and it frightened me. I saw another when I was 21 and managing a store on East-West highway in DC. Oddly, it was the day Reagan was shot. A store detective tried to grab a thief after he tried to smash one of my glass display cases containing power tools and they got into a fistfight that continued up one of the aisles, through the doors and out onto the street outside the store. I had to pull my cashiers off the registers - several of them were crying and my head cashier (an Indian girl in a sari) had fled up to the cashier's cage and locked herself inside so I couldn't get to a phone to call the police until I finally talked her into unlocking the door. What a day. When I finally got back outside, the two men were on top of a stopped car in the intersection punching away at each other like mad.

Reading Grim's post, I had to ask myself if I had raised my sons all wrong. When my boys were little, my husband was often gone: deployed, or in the field. So I couldn't always ask him for advice on how to handle boyish misdeeds like fighting.

My own policies on such things were shaped by a combination of reading books (fiction, mostly) and childhood experiences. I was the oldest of two children and we moved every year. Military kids living out in town are easy target for bullies because you have no friends for the first few weeks or even months. My younger brother was smaller, shyer, and rather quiet and since we walked to school, he got picked on sometimes so I was protective of him.

At times, walking home from school was like running a gauntlet - either someone was threatening to beat me up because I'd refused to back down during some playground altercation, or some group of twits was lying in wait for my little brother and I had to try to find him and walk him home in hopes they'd be afraid to take both of us on. I remember in particular one enormous black girl named Linda. Everyone was terrified of her. The rumor was she had beaten up several people. Of course I never actually saw any of these people, so I was the only skeptic on the topic of Linda's superpowers. But she was enormous and had arms like jackhammers.

Linda detested me. We were always getting into it at school because she cheated at all the games and butted in line. No one would stand up to her, and it really frosted me that people just let her get away with it. She had this little white girl named Karen who clung to her side like a remora, and Karen started threatening to beat me up too, which really made life a Living Hell. I used to mock them mercilessly, which only made them both madder, but I was starting to get scared.

The thing is, I never got into a fight with either girl. A boy would have. There were a couple of big showdowns when I met them after school. They resulted in verbal sparring matches, but no fighting, because I had been taught not to fight. I was able to talk both of them out of fighting by simply pointing out that fighting was dumb. It really wasn't going to solve anything other than getting everyone suspended for no reason, which was pretty idiotic over a dodgeball argument. Eventually they got tired of picking on me and moved on to bigger and better things. I don't know what would have happened if I'd been a boy.

I have always wondered why neither they, nor any of the twits who came after my brother, ever hauled off and just hit me. At any rate, the upshot of all this is that when it came time to raise my boys, I tried to teach them the same thing, because it worked for me. I told them that if they couldn't avoid a fight, to hit as hard as they could, knock the other person down, and walk away. But to try reason first, and above all, to show no fear and no emotion, because my big theory was that it is really, really hard to haul off and hit someone who is just dead calm. I think it just unnerves people and they feel slightly foolish if they persist. I think fighting requires escalation and anger, and if one person refuses to play then it's hard (though not impossible) to manufacture a fight out of thin air.

Reading Grim's post, I have to question whether I did the right thing or not, though. I wonder if there is something in boys that needs to fight, and if I squashed it? I'm not stupid - I know both my sons got into tussles, though neither of them ever got into a major donnybrook. What I don't know, though, is whether that's a bad thing or not?

Fuzzybear Lioness sent me this wonderful piece on being a man. It asks some intriguing questions about our attitudes towards masculinity:

Manliness," he says, "is a quality that causes individuals to stand for something." The Greeks used the term thumos to denote the bristling, spirited element shared by human beings and animals that makes them fight back when threatened. It causes dogs to defend their turf; it makes human beings stand up for their kin, their religion, their country, their principles. "Just as a dog defends its master," writes Mansfield, "so the doggish part of the human soul defends human ends higher than itself."

Every human being possesses thumos. But those who are manly possess it in abundance, and sometimes in excess. The manly man is not satisfied to let things be as they are, and he makes sure everyone knows it. He invests his perception of injustice with cosmic importance.

Manliness can be noble and heroic, like the men on the Titanic; but it can also be foolish, stubborn, and violent. Achilles, Brutus, and Sir Lancelot exemplify the glory of manliness, but also its darker sides. Theodore Roosevelt was manly; so was Harry "The Buck Stops Here" Truman. Manly men are confident in risky situations. Manliness can be pathological, as in gangsters and terrorists.

Manliness, says Mansfield, thrives on drama, conflict, risk, and exploits: "War is hell but men like it." Manliness is often aggressive, but when the aggression is tied to the concept of honor, it transcends mere animal spiritedness. Allied with reason, as in Socrates, manliness finds its highest expression.

I loved this piece, because it embodies the same view of men (and women) that my Dad taught me, and this is why I believe so strongly that little girls need fathers so desperately. Though I was a bit of a tomboy as a child, I firmly believe men and women are intrisically different and our different natures are designed to balance and complement one another.

Fathers teach their daughters not only what to look for in a man, but also something about being a woman. My father always had a great respect for women. He taught me that, at their best, women are a civilizing influence on men. We guard society’s moral traditions, we appeal to their protective, nobler side and channel the innate aggression in the male spirit in a positive direction so that it is used for good: to build, to protect, to explore and expand and extend our knowledge.

This is why I think the whole "gender-neutral" business is so pernicious. In addition to being unnatural, it robs us of that balancing influence and causes people to make rules that defy observable reality:

After almost 40 years of feminist agitation and gender-neutral pronouns, it is still men who are far more likely than women to run for political office, start companies, file for patents, and blow things up. Men continue to tell most of the jokes and write the vast majority of editorials and letters to editors. And--fatal to the dreams of feminists who long for social androgyny--men have hardly budged from their unwillingness to do an equal share of housework or childcare. Moreover, women seem to like manly men: "Manliness is still around, and we still find it attractive," says Mansfield.

The disturbing aspect to the more radical feminist agenda is that it produces aberations like Nancy Hopkins: academicians who see no contradiction in a purportedly-equal woman who gets the vapors when a man dares to express a scientific theory she disagrees with. If a man were to suggest that women be barred from future conferences because they were "too delicate" to hear shocking theories like the one she wanted Larry Summers sanctioned for uttering, Ms. Hopkins would rightly have accused him of sexism. Yet she conveniently hid behind her feminine frailty when it suited her: "How dare he suggest such a thing! The big bully! I feel faint....".

Just try to imagine a man doing such a thing. All right. You can stop laughing now. And yet where is Larry Summers? Gone. Only Nancy Hopkins remains. She won in the end. Which makes me feel just a little bit sick.

Well actually, to tell you the truth, it makes me mad as hell. And to finally close this circle, if it mades me mad as hell at my age, when I've learned to make my peace with things I can't change (or at least most of the time I have) can you imagine how it must make a young man feel, who is still railing against the status quo? Is it really any wonder young men are tuning out in increasing numbers, or choosing to act irresponsibly? How many positive channels do we give them for the exercise of their masculinity? More importantly, how comfortable are we as a society with masculinity itself, anymore? Doc Russia comments:

Talking with my friends who are a little older or of a more rural upbringing, I am struck by how they had somewhere to go where the laws of man lost their power. Today, everyone in double digit years wants to "rebel." Nevermind that they are "rebelling" by Parroting exactly what a bunch of MTV execs have decided the next fad should be, or that they are questioning only what some clueless lefty propagandist says should be questioned. Everyone wants to rebel. Actually, what they really want to do is to exist unfettered. When you go off into the wilderness, you are free. You are unfettered. You do not need to rebel because there is nothing to rebel against. If you want to run around naked screaming "booga booga booga!" nobody is going to be shocked or dismayed, or call the cops, or call the TV station. In fact, all you have to worry about is not paying attention to the brambles your birthday suit is headed for. And if you do wander into those brambles, there will be nobody there to help you out of them, or tend to your wounds. There are no rules, no responsibilities, and no limitations. There are only consequences, and as long as you can handle that, then you can do whatever you want.

So, we now have a population of frontiersmen with no frontier. So they sit, stew and eventually rot.

Some of us get lucky, and avoid screwing up too badly before we can go out and at least see the frontiers, even if we cannot explore them. I do not know what the solution is. I just have this sneaking suspicion that if you were to tell a young man that he had a shot at wealth and prosperity which relied upon his own innate abilities, and not upon what school his degree is from, or whose ass he kisses, and how well he does it, that there was something out there which he could never find the end of, I bet you that a lot of this teenage horseshit would stop.

I had a thought the other day. Who knows, I may be going off the deep end. Shakespeare's inflexible virtue, carried too far, became vice.

We are currently engaged in a titantic struggle with radical Islamism, which is, if has, if you stop and think about it, all the characteristics of unbridled thumos - they certainly have no problem standing up for their kin, their religion, their country, their principles. The problem with Islamism is that it is untempered by the feminine influence. There is no partnership: they have totally subjugated women, shut them away, as the Left would say, silenced their Voices, marginalized them and treated them as the Other.

America, on the other hand, seems to be going too far in the other direction. We are marginalizing the masculine and becoming femininized in an attempt to right past imbalances, and that is just as great a mistake as what radical Islam is doing. In fact, it may be an even greater error, for it leaves us defenseless. We are becoming, as Kim du Toit says, a nation of women.

Reading Doc Russia's post, I was overcome with a feeling I have often: the urge to run away. I felt it all the time when I was a little girl. I used to dream of escaping from my safe home and having adventures. Sometimes I would sneak out of my bedroom early in the morning before anyone was awake just so I could wander for hours without getting caught. When I was a teenager I used to go out the window of my bedroom and walk around at night, just glorying in the freedom of being out under the stars. I wonder, sometimes, what kind of society we are becoming, where we lock our doors and our children up and everything becomes one giant calculation of risk.

I think it is that, most of all, that makes me want to open the door sometimes and just keep on going:

I opened my door
and the night air rushed in

crisp, and cool

and the scent of woodsmoke
and fallen leaves
and possibilities was everywhere

and for a moment
I saw myself walking
down the hill and into the moonlight
like I used to do

when I was younger

Someone has to push the boundaries. I hope we never lose our tolerance for those who are willing to try.

Posted by Cassandra at April 2, 2006 04:28 AM


Damn, woman! Remind me next time that when you say you are "not going to write today" you are in fact about to unleash the dogs. Outstanding, Cass.

I think I'll go outside and find something to punch.

Posted by: spd rdr at April 2, 2006 09:36 AM

This is what happens when you spin me up, mr rdr.

Happy punching :)

Posted by: Cassandra at April 2, 2006 10:11 AM

I have some objects for your punching enjoyment mr. rdr.

Posted by: KJ at April 2, 2006 11:03 AM

You inspire me to make three replies.


Aristotle's ethics focus on virtue as being a point on a spectrum between two extremes. For the virtue of courage, he says:

"Of the faults that are committed one consists in fearing what one should not, another in fearing as we should not, another in fearing when we should not, and so on...

"Of those who go to excess he who exceeds in fearlessness has no name (we have said previously that many states of character have no names), but he would be a sort of madman or insensible person if he feared nothing, neither earthquakes nor the waves, as they say the Celts do not."

The balance is not -- as people often misunderstand Aristotle to suggest -- the mid-point between the extremes, or the "moderate" position. It is, rather, the point on the spectrum that correctly, rationally applies to the real situation in the world. If something is genuinely terrible, a very cautious reaction could still be brave. For example, containment of the USSR was still a brave response, even though it shrank from actual direct confrontation with the real enemy. But the real enemy had ranks and ranks of thermonuclear missiles.

By the same token, there are things that appear more fearsome than they really are. Modern terrorist acts are a clear example. These are designed to project an image of strength the terrorists do not really have, in order to scare people into making concessions that the terrorists could not win on an open field of battle, or by peaceful competition. In facing such a situation, shrinking away is irrational -- is, in other words, cowardice rather than courage.

How do you learn which is which? By experience, of course, and by education. Currently the opportunities for experience are limited by our society. The education system is similarly flawed because of ideologies that have infiltrated it. Both are in need of reform.


Since you're looking to the theater for inspiration: have you ever seen the movie "The Quiet Man"? It neatly captures the "peaceful" violence suggested here. Indeed, if you haven't seen it -- or if it's been a while -- let me suggest it for your next evening free for taking a movie. Not only is it explanatory, it's a wonderful film that you and the Mr. will both enjoy.

In particular, the Catholic priest's response to the fighting shows the right, natural attitude towards it.


The coda to this is the piece I wrote yesterday on the Winchester. It points to the way forward for the youth and the older men alike. Of course we need adventure: and there is none greater than schooling a boy in the ways of the wild. Of course the male and female brains work differently: and one of the things that really keys the masculine brain is tracking objects through space, and hitting them. It's all hard code. That hard code isn't going anywhere, but we can train it to good purposes instead of bad ones.

If you want a peaceful society, as we all do, you can't get there by suppression of the instinct for violence. As you say, it leaves us defenseless; and more, suppressing natural qualities leads to perversion. If you suppress natural hunger, you get binges and purges, or hoarding, or starvation diets. The same is true of the natural instinct for violence. Suppress it, and you get bursts of far more serious violence directed at others; or you get violence directed at yourself, like Doc Russia's descriptions of fearsome drinking binges or drug abuse.

What you are meant to do, as Aristotle said, is to apply reason and find the right measure of the thing. You can learn to eat a satisfying meal without guilt. A young man can learn to stand up for things verbally and morally, and fight almost never; and when he does, to fight honorably and fairly, in a way that upholds and betters rather than damages society. That's the natural thing, the right application of reason: in a word, the virtue.

Posted by: Grim at April 2, 2006 12:09 PM

Well, that is one thing I *know* I taught my sons: how to stand up for what is right. In fact I know I made them very uncomfortable at times because I can be rather uncompromising in my ideas of right and wrong. But I did teach them to stand on their own two feet, and moreover not to be afraid to stand up to their friends if they disagreed, or to their foes if someone did something wrong and they needed to speak up.

That is one thing I do feel very good about as a parent. I know there are other things I fell down at. I don't think we ever do everything we set out to with our children. Oh well. If we were perfect I suppose our kids would all have complexes about that too.

At least my kids won't have that cross to bear :D It won't take much for them to outshine their Mom.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 2, 2006 12:31 PM

One thing I never doubted was that you'd taught them to stand up for what they thought was right. :)

Posted by: Grim at April 2, 2006 04:46 PM

Cassandra,I can tell you weren't a real tomboy growing up,only time I would get out of dodge if two men were fighting is if one had a gun,which seems to be very prevalent nowadays particularly in the black community because even though the men claim they want respect,they take the easy way out and are scared to get their butts whipped and decide to kill the person and would rather waste their lives in a jail cell and become somebody's bitch in jail!this is a perverted sense of manhood that is continually sold to our young men and women,frankly I don't think even with all our preachers we have now,the Black man is still clueless on what it means to be a man,his survival skills,like hunting,fishing,and things like that is zilch,but when it comes to getting high whether it is alcohol or drugs he can do that and he is exposed to more video games than he needs to as well.

Posted by: Lisa Gilliam at April 2, 2006 09:38 PM

Can't see anything wrong with spanking someone when they need it!

'Specially when they put a hole in your head by being stupid! ;-)

Guess I was reared in the politically incorrect realm of neanderthalism! All of my kids are fighters as well. Yeah, even Dink took on the school bully although she was outweighed by 80# and gave up 12 inches in reach. But she trains on the bag well and I didn't lessen her training just 'cause she was a gurl. Even though Da Grunt can lick you without getting to his feet it's College Boy you have to watch out for. The boy is greased lightning and his training pushed me to my limit when he was younger (and I could stand erect like a real man - Manulis Erectus - gotta' be a joke in there somewhere!). Now Da Fisherman has the baddest rep of all four and he's the smallest (5'6" - 165). I got called up to the school one day because he got jumped by a boy that was 6'4" and 240#. Bigtime football hewo and King of the County and D1 top choice. The little guy ripped him up badly and beat him to a pulp. The school officer was so in awe of the speed in which Da Fisherman attacked that he simply stood and watched. Da Grunt was BN Champ in most anything hand to hand but that's mostly to power. If he hits you once it's over. He was angry the other day and hit the bag so hard he ripped it out of a full laminated beam. I've never seen that much power and I was fairly strong as a yonker. Makes me believe the stories I hear of his exploits in the Land of Lovely Smells to be not so much embellished as I first believed!

Guess each of us has our own way of raising our kids but nothing in my life has ever given me the idea of not preparing my kids to take the fight to their enemy. I've seen too many body bags filled with guys trying to "compromise" when they should've been fighting! Not a damn thing wrong with teaching a family tradition of our style of self-defense. It's simply something we've passed down from generation to generation.

BTW Cass, we had one weigh in at 6# 2oz today. Little bitty scutter at 17". Da Fisherman and his Bride finally had another of my lovely granddaughters this morning. This one even has hair! Ha! "Peyton Elizabeth" but of course that immediately gets changed to "Sweet Pea" from her Pampa! :-o

And yes, my granddaughters have already begun to train. But it is Dink that is teaching them this time around. Always conduct yourself as a Lady. But if the bastard gets fresh - kick his butt! :-o

Posted by: JarheadDad at April 2, 2006 11:51 PM

Lisa, I think there are degrees of just about everything, and as to how much of a tomboy I was, you'd probably have to ask my Mom :D

I said 'a bit of' a tomboy, which I think probably understates rather than overstates the case. All I know is that from the time I was a baby I was into everything. I watched little girls for 3 years and what my Mom describes of the way I acted as a baby wasn't typical of a girl - in fact, it was just like my eldest boy (even worse, in fact - I got into more trouble than either of my boys ever did). I climbed on every surface. I was on the phone with my Mom yesterday and she told me I even climbed the Christmas Tree. My poor Mom went shopping and came home to find the tree on the ground and me in my grandmother's arms.

For the most part I spent most of my time outside doing the same stuff the boys did - football, races, etc, and often I was the one who organized the games we played even though I was the only girl in the group. Most of my friends were boys, growing up.

But, I also liked ballet and gymnastics. The thing was I got along just fine with girls singly, and I had some female friends, but they made me nervous in groups and I didn't tend to have groups of female friends because they were always ganging up on each other or talking about someone behind their back and I can't stand that crap.

If you have something to say to someone, clear the air for God's sake. Say it right to their face or keep your mouth shut - don't agitate and try to get other people to dislike them just because you can't get along with them. That's how women tend to act in groups and I really despise that kind of passive-aggressive, collectivist nonsense.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 3, 2006 05:15 AM

Wow. I'm glad I got that off my chest... heh. Moving right along...

Grim, The Quiet Man is probably one of my favorite John Wayne movies. We were just talking about buying it (I brought your movie club idea up to the Unit - I should have posted about it but got distracted as I so often do on weekends. I should write things down instead of trying to keep everything in my head).

I don't remember the Catholic priest so I will have to watch it again :)

JHD, that is why I like talking about this stuff - Grim made me think about the way I had done things, and so have you. I'm still not sure I would do things differently. I did consider, several times, whether I ought to teach my boys (not personally of course) to defend themselves, but they never really got picked on much so it never became an issue. If they had I would not have hesitated. It was not so much that I had huge moral objections to fighting. I just didn't see it as the best way to solve a problem unless you were pushed to it. But sometimes there is no other way.

I taught my sons that the best weapon any man or woman has on this earth, and the one no one can take away from you, is your brain. You can get sick or you can be crippled by an accident or trick of fate, and we have no control over that. But if you train your mind, you can still overcome all that and outsmart people who want to do you harm, and compete effectively with the rest of the world. But if you get into the habit of relying on your fists, or intimidation, to solve problems for you, (and I'm not saying this is what you taught *your* kids, but this is what bullies do) then you are really narrowing your options.

I guess my other view of human nature was this: I think people are basically good, but if you scratch the surface underneath we are going to get nasty in a hurry if we feel threatened. So I figured if my kids were ever really in danger, biology would step in and they weren't going to meekly sit there and get beaten to a pulp.

And as it turned out, one time my youngest boy did get picked on in Jr. High and tried to avoid a fight because I'd asked him to, but when that became impossible he quite sensibly clocked the kid who was bothering him in front of a whole group of boys and from that moment on, people gave him a whole lot of space. He did exactly what I asked of him - he didn't beat the living shit out of the kid. He just hit him really, really hard (because I told him that if you're going to hit someone, don't mess around with it - take them out) and then he walked away before it degenerated into a brawl. He knocked him down. Pretty good for a quiet kid who had never been in a fight before.

Almost the exact same thing happened with my oldest in 2nd grade and after he knocked the bully who came after him down, they became best friends.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 3, 2006 06:00 AM

JHD, I am on delayed processing this morning.

Sorry. I was up all night Saturday night and I am still catching up on my sleep.

Congratulations, Grandpa! What a wonderful family you have - we should call it the JHDynasty... :)

Kids surprise you, don't they? I worry, sometimes, about my oldest being a cop because he is not physically a large man (5'10" and very wiry - I doubt he weighs even 150 lbs now that he's been lifting weights). I've never seen a guy eat as much as he does and he's all muscle but he just doesn't put weight on.

But when he was in jr. high playing soccer, though he really wasn't that much into sports he was really scrappy on the field. One day I watched this enormous kid (6' tall) literally toss him around the field, and he just shook himself off and charged right back at him. He was playing fullback and all the other guys on defense were getting out of this kid's way except my son. I was so proud of (and surprised at) his tenacity, because I knew he didn't really care about soccer all that much, but he was not about to let that kid beat him. Even his Dad was impressed, which was nice because like me at that age, my son had been in trouble for being too laid back about things. That was the first time we saw any sign of some of the qualities he shows as adult.

Kind of cool, watching kids grow up. You never know how they will turn out. You may fool yourself that you're driving the bus but they have just as much to do with the kind of people they become as anything you teach them.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 3, 2006 06:17 AM

Can't see anything wrong with spanking someone when they need it!

JHD... man, you have *got* to stop feeding me lines like this. It is sorely testing my self-restraint.

'Specially when they put a hole in your head by being stupid! ;-)

Having already resisted the temptation to point out in private that your various body parts seem to come in contact with a suspiciously large number of dangerous foreign objects, some or all of which were at some point connected to other people, you go and taunt me in public. There are limits... I thought virtue was supposed to be its own reward???

Grim, I expect you to do something about this.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 3, 2006 06:49 AM

You should see my body part history in x-ray form. I don't know if I've missed breaking any major bone group! Ah well, the life of a blue collar man. I think they wrote a Country song about that somewhere! :-o

Our philosophy would look, from the outside, as a major contradiction. We have always trained from childhood in our family form of self defense but Heaven help you if it turns out you ever started a fight! Whew! That's Rule #1 and hence the name "self defense"! I've studied a lot of other forms of fighting and frankly they all have their merits. I just simply don't buy into the "our way brings peace, love, and butterflies" philosophy of most. We just simply teach what has worked for us and add adaptions as time goes on. I see no one way of fighting or martial art as "the" way. I'm sure Grim would back me up on that as he has trained in a whole bunch more disciplines than I have. I've simply faced a good many on the waterfronts of youth so learned them the hard way.

No, I do not promote violence although I'm sure it sounds that way. But I've lived a hard life and have seen evil in it's purest form. Up close and personal! So I simply believe in being prepared. It's amazing what you can teach your body to react to and I think that's more than half of the idea. It is a challenge and as with all challenges there comes a form of self confidence acquired with mastering them. Plus the fitness aspect is something that becomes habit as well as with most training. Athletic or otherwise. Once learned you never forget.

And yeah, I get your hidden meaning Grasshopper. I'm aworkin' on that whole mental rejuvenation thing! A full frontal mental Zen attack against conditions. I like it! ;-)

Guess I oughta' go do some work or sumpthin'! Crane operators beware! :-o

Posted by: JarheadDad at April 3, 2006 07:23 AM

My friend, if there is one thing I don't worry about too much, it's your mind. You are a constant delight to talk with :)

I probably live too much in my head - I know this. That's why when I first got out on my own I ended up working with my hands. I think I knew I needed to experience that side of life. It was good for me, and I found when I had my lawn business that I have an enormous capacity for hard physical work, and I enjoy it. It keeps me from worrying too much, which is something I do tend to do from time to time. But I also found out that I did not want to be doing that when I was 65.

On fighting, the Unit and I both took Karate for a while. He's had far more than I did because I had to stop when I had the kids and he got to go on when he was in Japan both times. But I really liked it. I even enjoyed sparring as long as my partner was bigger than I was.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 3, 2006 07:40 AM

Which part am I meant to do something about? The part where he gets clobbered a lot, or the part where you feel like taunting him about it? :)

If you think JHD here is bad, you should meet Tony down in Warrenton. He looks fine on the outside: well groomed, seems to move correctly, the only thing is you will notice after a while that one hand was reconstructed and part of one finger is missing. The surgeon did such a good job, though, that you might know him for months before you realize it.

Turns out, he used to race motorcycles. About half of his skeletal structure has been replaced with artificial joints, repaired with steel rods, screws, etc.

I was down there over the winter, and he had suddenly developed such a terrible pain in one knee that he couldn't twist his body or walk without a cane. He was going to see the doctor. "Funny thing is," he said, "the knee that aches is the only one that never got hurt! I'm thinking I'll just have it replaced too!"

Goes with the lifestyle. I think I was telling you about the time the guy dropped a 4x8 joist on my head from four feet. (So much for those lightning reflexes!)

Posted by: Grim at April 3, 2006 09:08 AM

Sweet Pea, eh? Even now, I can see visions of you chasing her across skyscrapers-under-construction. :)

Posted by: Grim at April 3, 2006 09:11 AM

*sighing again*

Between the two of you, I am still wincing. I don't know how either one of you have lived to be this old. I dread hearing that 'plink' in my Inbox from JHD: any day now I expect to hear that a volcano has erupted somewhere and his truck "just happened" to be in the vicinity. And "just look! Only 27 stitches *this* time!"

Good God.

I seem to live a charmed life. I was always falling or jumping off of things when I was growing up (roofs, buildings, trees, swingsets, slides, bicycles going way too fast), but though my little brother always had stitches and one of my friends (David) was always in a cast, I seemed to fall well. I just used to sprain my wrists and ankles a lot and I only had stitches once or twice that I remember, and then it was only one or two.

I did take a few really nasty falls from my bike - that was my worst addiction. I could not go too fast on my bike, and the less of me that was touching the seat the more I liked it. I'm lucky I don't scar much but I still have scars on one knee from a really bad spinout when I was in grade school.

But next to the two of you I am a complete wuss. I admit it.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 3, 2006 09:39 AM

Have I told you about the time I was digging my truck out of the snowbank on Burnt Mountain, and it got loose and rolled back on me? I put my shoulder through the tailgate. Bent the steel, not my shoulder. I thought I had the best of it for several years, but lately I've been getting this real pain in that shoulder now and then...

Goes with the territory. But what a territory!

Posted by: Grim at April 3, 2006 08:44 PM

Heh! One of the best breaks I had was when we were long-lining off the Atlantic Coast up Nawth. Got caught in one of those freak spring storms and started building ice on the bow. All hands turned to with hatchets breaking the ice chunks before we went deep six. One of the deckhands broke the stay on the boom and she swung around free. Guess who caught that one in the hip? he-he! 16 fractures in that one but we finished the month and made some good dough! If TLB ever would've figured out what caused all those babies I could've evac'd and rode that one out at home. Little boogers always did have this annoying habit of wanting to eat all the time. Every day too. Sheesh! :-o

You'll love this one Grim since you know these guys. There was a youngster on shore leave in a distant port once upon a time. This youngster was shopping and tagging along with the bos'n mate. The two had their arms full of plunder and were headed back to their berth when they turned a corner and the young guy bumped into this little bitty Malaysian-like monkey boy feller. More like a 2 1/2 ft tall midget! heh! This little beast took offense and before I knew it that sucker had hit me 50 times before I even knew I was in a fight! he-he! Man! did I get my butt kicked that time. This "thing" was all over the place. Up one side of me and down the other. On the ground, under my feet, on my back, in my face. I mean a blur. Whew! I finally got unlimbered and caught up with this nightmare and left him in little pieces in a pile in the dirt but the damage was done. If the bos'n hadn't been there I'd have never made it back to the ship. I was cut everywhere and my eyes swole shut within seconds. Totally blind! And burn? Oh man! Now that was like pouring iodine in a bazillion little cuts. Later the ship's doc told us that these folks dip their hands in some type of poison (don't remember the name of the plant but I used to know it) before they go into battle and it causes all kinds of damage. Turns out the little guy was on some sort of warpath of sorts, like counting coups I gather or rite of passage or something, and guess who was the lucky one to be in the right place at the right time? From that day forward I never move until I know what is around me. I taught myself a trick to know what is around me at all times. heh! Ah, life's little lessons!! LMAO!

I'm really looking forward to all the arthritis in a few years. NOT! I can already tell you what the weather is going to do by which body part is aching. Aw Geez!! :-o

Posted by: JarheadDad at April 3, 2006 11:17 PM

Would the Christian teaching of being 'equally yoked' mean anything? Outstanding piece.

Posted by: Cricket at April 4, 2006 09:34 AM

That's it, JHD. I am calling Dr. Joycelyn elders to make safer boats. We have to have a zero injury policy in the armed forces. We can't tolerate Others in pain, even if they are the military, or guys out doing what men do.

Good grief, I had four sons and one daughter. She is the littlest one of the bunch...her five year old brother is as tall as she is, but don't ever get on her bad side. She has mastered the art of not getting caught and making it hurt at the same time.

I can't tell you how many times I have heard knives and tomahawks being thrown at trees, caught the kids building fires in the back yard on cold days to keep warm (we live in a subdivision so we need permission to build an outdoor fire for a controlled burn) because they REFUSED to come inside, caught them playing paintball, wrestling, gouging, etc.

Not to mention the spud cannon, fireworks at odd hours of the night, and other activities. Boys make better men when there is room to grow.

Posted by: Cricket at April 4, 2006 09:48 AM

Hey Cricket, the kids get arrested around here for rolling someone's house nowadays! And then they get tossed off any team they may happen to be on at the government indoctrination center. Yeah, that toilet paper could destroy someone's feelings and start them on the road to ruin!

Shoot, just shoot them up with some more Ritalin and make a new non-disease. Call it SSOTPAD (scared s**tless of toilet paper attention disorder) and make sure teachers can throw the kid out of school if he refuses to take it. The drug companies would be happy but the TP people would feel the hit in sales! :-o

A kid in our neighborhood got three years probation for firing a spud cannon. Didn't even hit anything! But the pregnant 17 yr old driving a $60k BMW talking on a cell phone and running over someone only gets a year. What a whacked out world we live in today!

Posted by: JarheadDad at April 4, 2006 11:34 PM

I agree with you about the penalties for men and women and celebrity/money status. Yesterday, one of my hs friends came by with 9 of her 14 children (I kid you not. She drives a Ford 250 diesel 12 passenger van). With my four, that was a small platoon and we raised helk. The boys divided into teams and finished putting together the metal shelving for the garage, then dug a french drain around the swimming pool. They played football in the front yard, ate up eight cans of tuna, three pounds of cheese, six loaves of bread and six quarts of soup, not to mention two watermelons and four cantaloupes.

The girls played dress up, read, cleaned the playhouse, bounced on the trampoline and chased the cats. A good time was had by all.


Posted by: Cricket at April 5, 2006 04:19 PM

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