I had my first ‘dog rage’ incident last weekend. Like road rage, but between dog walkers, getting aggressive with each other over the behaviour of each other’s mutts. My dog Charlie is the most submissive dog I have ever known, and he went up to another dog and gave him a friendly sniff. Which prompted this tattooed thug of a man to scream ‘Get your fucking dog on a lead’.
To which I pretty angrily reacted with something along the lines of ‘No, we are walking our dog in a dog walking park’.
Anyway, the long and short of it was he was offended I had my dog off a lead, when his was on one, because he had (his words not mine) a ‘dangerous breed’. He didn’t, he had a Miniature Bull Terrier, which is quite a friendly breed. I was shocked he referred to it as dangerous and also pretty angry by this point, and struggled to mumble out the words ‘that’s never been a dangerous breed’.
I wanted to follow up with something along the lines of ‘there are no dangerous breeds, only bad owners’ but a mixture of anger, fear, and confusion meant I started to stutter my words. Obviously I have been rehearsing this very line ever since, and will be looking to deliver it at the first available opportunity. By this point he had had enough, screamed (really screamed btw) at me to get my fucking dog on a lead again, then stormed off.
I am not used to conflict, I am not particularly argumentative, so this was quite new ground for me. Normally I would do my best to diffuse a situation like this (Or leg it), but bad dog owners really annoy me (and I am pretty certain that is the spirit of my late father talking there, he got involved in dog rage incidents all the time, usually whenever he saw someone mistreating a dog). So I think I stood my ground adequately, I certainly wasn’t backing off from the guy and he looked like he could probably deck me. I was with my girlfriend at the time, and we walked away, having a little giggle about it, she seemed unphased by it all.
I recounted the story to a friend, and he asked me the question I have been asking myself since:
“Did you do enough to not look like a pussy in front of your girlfriend?”
That is the ultimate question. Situations like this are, in my opinion, a man’s worst nightmare. Had I been on my own, or with male friends, I think I could have lived with any outcome (fight or flight or cry or become his bitch), but to look like you wimped out in front of a girl is about as bad as it gets.
That may sound really shallow, but its human nature I think. No matter how level headed and sensitive a woman wants her man to be, they also deep down want, at the very least, to feel safe when they are with him. He is or could be the father of their children after all, there is nothing wrong with such a need. We know this too, and at the very minimum we want to appear as if we wouldn’t run away at the first sign of danger.
Did I do enough? I think I got away with it, I sounded angry in my tone, I stood in front of her so as to shield her, and he walked away first. But, I never really reprimanded him, I was rude at best, and I started to mumble and stutter instead of blurting out a killer retort. I’m glad it didn’t come to blows (It was a lot more aggressive than my blog may make it sound) because he probably would have won. I think I got lucky, but it could have been much worse, and it truly had the potential to be a nightmare scenario.
Take these two prime examples of how bad it could have got, one from the friend I was talking to, another from my own experience. The story my friend Jonesy told me was of two couples he knew in a pub, the guys were playing pool, the ladies were having a chat. A group of burly men came along, took the pool cues away from the guys, and straight up told them “we are playing now” and ordered the two couples to leave right away, which they all did.
She knew it shouldn’t have mattered, and they did the logical thing of avoiding violence, but one of the girls could not get head around the fact her man had been made to look such a wimp, and she left him a few weeks later. It’s horrible, but I understand her viewpoint (And feel for him, as I am not sure what I would have done in his shoes).
Likewise, when I was about 19, I was out one night with some friends, about three girls and one of the girl’s boyfriends, who was about 25. We were stood at a cash machine when four much older and hard looking blokes approached the girl with the boyfriend and loudly asked ‘Will you show me your cunt?’, much to the amusement of his friends. I stood there pretending nothing had happened, and unfortunately, so did her boyfriend.
When they left, she immediately tore into him ‘Thanks a lot for sticking up for me’.
The poor sod, had he not been emasculated enough by the guys, she promptly reminded him of it seconds later. What the hell was he supposed to do there? Had he pretty much said anything at all, he would have got the crap kicked out of him, and very possibly me too. This particular situation I sympathise with the girl much less, even though she has been done much more wrong, because she must have known this and was essentially saying ‘Thanks a lot for not getting beat up for me, and getting Barry a good kicking at the same time’.
Of course you have the third, probably worst of all situation, where the woman starts sticking up for herself and gets the guy beaten up (or he leaves her to it).
I think modern men essentially have two primal drives once they have after basic needs like food and shelter, drives which influence every other one after them: The pursuit of sex, and the avoidance of violence. Its situations like these that remind me that we often have to sacrifice one if we want the other. I’m not saying you have to get in fights to get a girlfriend, but if you try to avoid conflict too much in front of women you probably will struggle to get one.
The two drives do seem somewhat going in different directions, but a quick way to fuse the two is to call the drive ‘Not wanting to look stupid in front of a girl’. It’s amazing how powerful a drive that is, I am in a very happy committed relationship, but the thought of tripping over in front of any female still ranks as much worse than a surprising amount of bad things.
If poker has taught me anything, it’s that sometimes you have to pick the best of several bad options. If you are not a violent person like myself, these scenarios are never going to end well, but I think as long as they don’t kill or maim you, you can probably live with yourself more if you know you stood up for yourself and took a beating.
Whether I can actually do that in the moment if the situation arises again remains to be seen, but I will be doing my best to avoid that situation (while making it look like I am not trying too hard to avoid it) as much as possible until then (and will certainly be legging it if there are no women about).