Monday, 30 April 2012

The Armoured Shell

Tricerotops had an armoured shell. It was a peaceful dinosaur that, if my history lessons are remembered correctly, ate shoots and leaves. One of the quieter chaps amongst the great reptiles. That is unless you tried to make a snack out of it, in which case it would become a badass motherfucker, butting you with its pointed, three horned head and swinging its spiky tail at you.

For years I’ve tried to look like I was stoic and bad tempered. A grumpy dude who wanted to be left alone and would only be pals if he felt like it. Someone who would object muchly to being woken up unexpectedly, would glare at you silently if you spilled a drink over him and someone who would walk slowly across the street, knowing cars would have to slow down so why should I do that humiliating “hop, skip, jump” when a vehicle came too fast towards me.

Being skinny is kind of sucky unless you’re a girl who wants to model size zero clothes. Despite what anyone says, the punier you are, the less effect your punches, kicks or even shoves will have on anyone who is attacking you. Watching (the awesome) Avengers Assemble yesterday there’s a wonderful scene where Thor gets the Hulk in a wrist lock. This is excusable as Thor, while toned, is in no way muscley BUT is a demi-god from the alternate world of Asgard. So it’s permissible for this to occur as it’s a movie about magic and superheroes.

Compensating for being small, I would find other ways to put people off bothering me. I was bullied almost constantly at Secondary (High) school and learned then to adapt for my own survival. Fighting was out as the school was staffed by cunts who were too lazy to try and find out why someone was repeatedly getting punched in the face. They would simply apply the maxim of “6 of 1, half a dozen of the other” or assume after the 3rd or 4th time that “it’s always you isn’t it!”.

So, I mastered the “thousand yard stare” and by the time I was in my twenties I was pretty good at it. This isn’t a deterrent to: the drunk, the genuinely hard or the very angry but can put most people off wanting to irritate someone who looks like he is contemplating genocide.

Next I took on board a precious piece of advice from my cousin’s husband. Ex police, he once interviewed a prolific mugger and asked him how he chose a victim. Bloke replied “we stand near the entrance to an alleyway, five or six of us. We then stare at people as they walk towards us. There’s only ever one of three reactions. Number 1 will look away. We do him or her as they are obviously frightened and it’s no contest. Number 2 will try and stare us out. He’s scared too as there’s 6 of us and he’s just trying to act hard. We do him. But the one we leave alone is the guy or girl who just looks at us then looks in the direction they are walking and ignores us. They are self confident and it’s too much trouble. We could still put them down but it might take an extra 30 seconds and that could be the difference between getting away with it or getting caught”.

So now, if someone is sizing me up or just staring at me I follow point 3 to the letter. Not had a problem in a while.

Thing is….

Was everyone, who I saw staring at me, thinking of kicking my head in or robbing me? Almost certainly not. But it’s easy to lapse into paranoia and fearful self isolation when you feel you are surrounded by threat.

Final method is to be as obnoxious as possible. This is not a defence against potential physical attack, quite the opposite as it may actually provoke it. It is more to dissuade people from attempting to make fun of you. If you fear that intimacy will result in those you befriend taking advantage, then be as rude as you can. Belief is that those worth knowing, will see through this and want to be your pal anyway.

Life is a constant battle against the hurt we think we will feel. As phobophobia is fear of fear, pisstakeophobia is self explanatory. We seal ourselves off from human interaction as it is better to remain alone and isolated than to have someone make us care and then hurt us.

Today I went to the charity shop I used to work in. I offered to help out as it’s my day off from my regular (paid) job and we had a good chat and although much piss taking was had, I felt more relaxed than I had in a long time.

Next door is a pub, owned by a very good friend. The people in there constantly take the piss, out of me and each other. It took me a very long time to realise that this isn’t personal and is just banter. One guy shouted at me to fuck off a few weeks ago. I glared at him and he then came over and put his arm around me and said “I was only joking mate”.

Insecurity is kinda sucky.

We all have armour, problem is that like Tricerotops it’s hard to lose it before you become extinct.

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