Monday, July 19, 2010

#23: I Am Polly's Total Inability to Ride the Subway, or, How to Break a Drunk Man's Teeth

Since this blog's been brooding harder than a Belle and Sebastian fan held hostage at a Jonas Brothers concert without his cardigan sweater, I thought I'd lighten things up a bit. Specifically with drunken fisticuffs, lesbians and a new "Reasons my Father F-ing Rocks," in which Daddy Dearest coins the phrase "gorilla snatch" (hint: that's in reference to his arch nemesis' labia). So, the first in a series of non-brooding posts: That Time I Got in a Fist Fight With a Latino Man on the Subway. (My second failure at riding the subway like a normal human being.)

Now, anyone who knows me understands I'd rather be bound, gagged and forced to listen to a vegan propaganda opera scored by sitars than voluntarily quote Chuck Palahniuk.

That being said: "How much can you know about yourself [if] you've never been in a fight." - Fight Club

With that quote in mind "Get in a Fight" made the original Hitch List because, despite my desire to avoid the hipster bandwagon (mainly because I get carsick from riding all the way in the back), I fundamentally agree with Palahniuk's philosophy there. A good full contact fight can do more to unlock the primal core of a repressed suburbanite than all the ayuasca at Burning Man...and I'm mildly curious as to whether my core is made of hot, liquid badass or limp angel-hair pasta. 

ATTN. EDITORS: This press release embargoed until 2am or your 4th vodka/Redbull

While I have an advanced degree in shit-talking (from New Jersey U), I've never actually gotten in a physical fight, i.e. the kind where pieces of your body make contact with pieces of another person's body without the shared goal of orgasm. The closest I'd ever come before this post's incident was

A) The time some married drunk threatened to kick the ass of my boyfriend for cock-blocking his attempts to bed my best friend. I flew into an overprotective rage and threatened to "slit" his "fucking throat myself" while making belligerent hand gestures until wingman Ariel and two other friends pulled me off him. I have no idea why I said this, because I don't carry a knife appropriate for throat-slitting. 

B) The time 10-Year-Old Me slapped my 7-Year-Old Sister in the face over the last Fruit Roll-Up. (She started it.) NOTE: It was one of those awesome rainbow flavors and therefore worth fighting for.

Despite the deeply introspective nature of both events, I learned nothing about myself during those encounters, except that the darkest parts of me are willing to hit a blood relative in the face over a rainbow-colored corn syrup carpet rolled in plastic and marketed to children during Nickelodeon's Doug.

My fight cherry was recently popped when I stepped onto a rickety Brooklyn-bound subway train with intent to see some hipster band play a late-night set with a friend. With just two other passengers in the car--a middle-aged woman reading The Fountainhead and a nebbishy 30something guy in a skinny tie--I happily plopped myself down on one of those L-shaped tetris-piece seats near the door. There, I commenced standard "Please Don't Talk to Me" protocol: iPod in, journal open, eyes down. Also, knees shut. 

Two stops later the doors parted to reveal a bleary-eyed, balding, mustachioed Latino man (PS: This is not a Racist post. This isn't evan a Poor Little White Girl Victimized By A Demon Minority post. This is a Drunk Jaggoff Whose Race Is Relevant Because He Looked So Much Like An Oversized Cheech Marin It's Worth Mentioning post. Cool? Moving on.) reeking of tequila and swaying slightly on the platform. He waved a limp hand at some equally hammered pals, stepped into our car, examined the four dozen empty seats ready to cradle his drunk ass all the way to Brooklyn....then sat down right next to me.

Every woman knows what it's like to be leered at in a totally inappropriate way. It's a creeping, burning sensation that registers on some piece of skin facing the perpetrator, then slowly spreads across your consciousness like sexual harassment napalm. Doppel-Cheech Marin was an advanced leer-er...and his gaze was a tactical air strike on the right side of my body. 

But I can handle a leer. What I cannot handle is a lime and salt-scented hand reaching into my peripheral vision and toward my be-legginged knee. 
"Mami, tu estas bonita," he was slurring as the hand approached its target. I channeled Daniel-San and waxed-off the incoming set of digits, propelling them to one side with my forearm while vomiting expletives. Doppel-Cheech look perplexed.

"DON'T TOUCH ME, understand? No nos moleste? Leave me alone."

"Ehh....," Doppel-Cheech grunted, both hands up in surrender. I went back to the journal.

Just as I was getting my narrative back, a brown face and neck crept into sight from the right again, Cheech's nubby mushroom nose near-level with my eyes, hands creeping to my seat.

"I'M TELLING YOU TO LEAVE. ME. ALONE!" At this point, both of our fellow passengers were watching, but not saying a thing. 

Doppel-Cheech got angry. "Mami, whasss it is your problem, eh?" I noticed as I silently glared back at him that one eye was wandering off on its own like the fat kid with ADD on a museum trip, further evidence that I attract life's congenital mishaps even more reliably than reality TV shows.

I was determined to stand my ground, lest the dick see he was scaring the shit out of me and gain some sort of situational foothold. "You are the problem, now PLEASE back off."

He did. For about 1 minute. Then the shit hit the fan.

I felt one of the wandering hands reach behind me toward my shoulder, causing me to spring out of the seat so fast I almost stepped out of my own shoes and into the metal stripper pole strap-hangers cling to during urban commutes. I was a banshee at this point, brandishing my tiny index finger like a switch-blade and screaming at him to back the fuck off. We were hurling through the tube toward Brooklyn at top speed, the sound of squealing wheels only emphasizing that I was in essentially trapped in a tin can trying to fend off a tequila-fueled sex demon with no way out. 

Instead of backing off, Doppel-Cheech stood up, squared off and asked me why I was "such a fucking beetch."


Thanks to years with Alex, a former all-state wrestler and devout MMA fan, I know how to successfully execute a d'arce choke, which looks like this:

Thanks to the immortal film Monster Squad, I also know how to do this:

And thanks to a year and a half living in Bushwick, Brooklyn, I actually OWN one of these...and it was in my purse at the time:
 Yes, these are eye-gouging knives, made to look like kittens.

Did I utilize any of the above tools or techniques?

No. Of course not. Instead, I blacked out, probably squealed like a ferret dropped in a bathtub and remembered the one piece of advice Alex gave me when I announced I was moving to the big city alone: "Always surprise them with first blow and make sure it's're small as fuck and that's your only hope unless you've got a gun." (Thanks, Alex.)


I remember the stubble on the underside of Doppel-Cheech's chin as he swaggered toward me. I remember cocking back my right wrist, fingers drawn in. And I remember stepping forward as fast as possible while driving the heel of my right palm up toward his chin as hard I possibly could. The impact of my hand clicked Cheech's jaw shut with a sound like ice being chewed, then snapped his head back until his eyes (at least the one not meandering off to Mordor or wherever the hell it was wandering) were at the ceiling. Cheech stumbled until the back of his knees hit the rim of his seat, the combination of now-halting train and terrified Irish girl sitting him down in the process. 
I've no photographic evidence of the encounter, but I hired an extremely reliable police artist to sketch a rendering of the event. It looked something like this:

As the train stopped I hurled myself toward the doors, screaming at Cheech--both of his hands at his mouth while he moaned--to stay where he was and not to follow me. The doors opened. I ran out, passing Nebbishy 30something Man, whose hadn't said or done a thing the entire ride. "And FUCK YOU TOO."

Cheech didn't follow. The doors shut behind me and I was alone on the platform save for a few late-night commuters straggling toward the exit. 

Having survived the whole shitshow, I did what any self-possessed woman with adrenaline coursing through her veins would: I burst into tears and called my mommy. Who didn't answer because she was watching American Fucking Idol.

It took me about 15 minutes to collect myself and figure out what to do next. I didn't know the subway car number, had no injuries, was unfamiliar with the section of Brooklyn I'd ejected myself at and generally wanted to pretend the entire thing never happened. So, instead of calling the cops, I headed back underground, got on a fresh train (after looking for a car with lots of people on it) and went and saw Beach House shoe-gaze their way indie-rock glory. My friend bought me a warm Blue Moon. I probably should have hit him in the face for that.

So. I don't know if the whole event technically counts as a fight. But it's as physical I've ever been while in a state of utter panic, so I'll count it. 

Here's what I learned, Tyler Durden:

1. I need to begin learning Brazilian ju-jitsu. Like, immediately. 

2. When finally faced with the opportunity to use it, I will forget about the MMA d'arce choke entirely.

3. Stubble leaves marks on the heel of your hand for 2-3 days.

4. Adrenaline makes me cry.

5. If you're nearly black-out drunk and all the odds are stacked against you, I just might be able to kick your ass.


Sam said...


Good for you for defending yourself and ensuring that that guy will think twice before he ever does something like that again.

As for self defense classes, ju jitsu is great but krav maga is even better.

inflammatory writ said...

This is the best thing I've read all week.

1. Glad you are okay.

2. I cry from adrenaline too.

3. I had a Mexican guy (some ethnicities cannot hold their tequila) grab my inner thigh while I was walking up the subway stairs once. I kicked that motherfucker in his face with a stiletto heel (probably broke his nose), and then proceeded to RUN LIKE THE DEVIL WAS CHASING ME through the tunnels of the Port Authority/Times Square labyrinth at some ungodly house of the morning yelling for someone to call the cops. I think I was 19. I am also fairly sure I cried.

Sassy said...

You're my hero.

Kimberly said...

Writ, I just snorted out loud at "RUN LIKE THE DEVIL WAS CHASING ME." Sorry for the handsy subwayers in general, but the stories are still funny.

tee said...

Bushwick?? My heart goes out to you girl.

I've thankfully never been attacked but I've been followed on a few occasions. One time being on my street so to avoid letting the leech know where I lived, I circled a 2 block radius THREE TIMES. The third time he shouted, "hey girl, I know you're tired. Why don't you catch a cab with me!"

...I'm pretty sure attackers have a much smaller success rate when they *ask* the potential victim if they would like to set themselves up for years of PSTD.

grumpy said...

That was hilarious and scary! The worst I have had is some homeless dude grab a handful of my top and have a peek. Ugh.