Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ultimate Benjiman Street Fighting Presents: PigPen "The Humiliator" Diablo vs. Cap'n Todd "The Hacker" Neurotic

Last Wednesday night I was channel flipping, trying to find a way to entertain myself, when I remembered that I hadn't checked the mail which meant there might have been some new Netflix waiting for me. Since our mailbox is located at the end of the street, I grabbed my keys and slipped on my shoes. As I headed out to the street, I discovered that PigPen and his friend Crawdad, who just moved down from Oklahoma, had gotten back from dinner and were just standing around outside visiting. I said hi, strolled down to the mailbox, was disappointed to find no Netflix waiting for me, strolled back to the house, tried to be unobtrusive so as not to interrupt the two visiting, and was promptly nailed in the side of the head by a wadded up ball of paper courtesy of PigPen. Nodding to myself, I bent over to pick the paper up, and placed it in my pocket. PigPen told Crawdad, "He's going to be saving that for later," and I said "Yes, yes I am," and headed back inside. I had now found how I was going to entertain myself for the evening.

I don't think I waited too terribly long before returning the paper wad to PigPen; I don't have a lot of patience at the best of times, and, while I hadn't been in one of my violent moods before, the opening unexpected salvo from PigPen outside had more than taken care of that. I actually managed to catch him unawares for once, and he complimented me for my effort with that tone of voice that suggested the game was well and truly on now. A short time later he launched it back at me, simultaneously lunging forward to try to retrieve it as it rebounded off my skull; I lunged as well, and was able to grasp the paper wad first. My victory was short-lived, as I found my wrist suddenly caught in PigPen's grip o' steel; my attempts to extricate myself and his attempts to pry open my hand soon devolved into a full-on wrestling match for control of the paper. I put up as much of a struggle as I could, but the eventual outcome was inevitable, and PigPen wrested the prize from my fingers. We then returned to our respective seats to catch our breaths and await the next move.

When PigPen finally unleashed his next shot at me, he followed it up with a change in tactics. "Now, Todd, I'm going to give you an option," he said. "You can take the paper, throw it away, and we'll have a truce; or, you can keep it, and pay the consequences."

Now, I ask you: how do you think that I would respond to such a statement? Even if I wasn't already in battle-mode after our grappling match, I think I would have been after that bit of condescension.* ”Now, Todd," his tone seemed to say, "you know you don't stand a snowball's chance in h-e-double-hockey-sticks of beating me, so why don't you just be a good little wimp and spare yourself any further humiliation at my hands? I doubt I could think less of you than I do right now, but why take that chance?"

Was I reading a bit too much into his tone? All signs** point to yes; but, regardless of his actual intent, at that moment I felt like I had been challenged, and I'd be danged if I was going to back down. So, back went the paper into my pocket, awaiting an opportunity to use it to prod the sleeping giant again. When I saw an opportunity and launched it at him, huge "yeah, that's right, I have a death wish" smile plastered on my face, his response was a world-weary sigh, followed by a slow shaking of his head. "Todd, Todd, Todd," he said, "you know you brought this on yourself."

And so began Round 2 of our what I generously call our wrestling match, but which is probably more accurately described as "a demonstration of PigPen's complete and total physical superiority over me.”

Now, I don't know if it was because I was just worn out from our first go-round, or if PigPen had decided after I had rejected his offer of a truce that he was going to teach me a lesson about challenging my betters, but Round 2 was much more lopsided than Round 1, with PigPen totally neutralizing me easily with his many years of wrestling experience, so it wasn't long before I cried "uncle" and retreated to my corner to recuperate. However, since, as mentioned previously, I have a bit of a death wish, once I managed to catch my breath somewhat, I found myself mouthing off in order to instigate Round 3.

Now, if I had thought Round 2 was lopsided, it was nothing compared to Round 3, where my limited strength and lousy conditioning totally gave out on me, and PigPen utilized his superior strength and skill to toss me around like a practice dummy. It wasn't long before he got my back and forced me face down into our brand new carpet, pulling both of my hands above my head and pinning them with one hand while his other hand bounced the paper wad off my head repeatedly, each bounce punctuated by the rhythm of his diatribe: "If you'd [bounce] just thrown [bounce] it away [bounce] like I said [bounce], but no! [bounce] Now see [bounce] what you've done [bounce] to yourself [bounce]" etc., etc.

Sounds pretty humiliating and demoralizing, huh? It was -- and yet at the same time, it was totally hilarious to me. Having pushed and prodded and pestered him -- all the while knowing that I was signing the death warrant on what I laughingly call my pride-- I don't begrudge PigPen his display at all; I pretty much brought it on myself. So, even as degrading as the situation was, it's not the thing that left me feeling totally embarrassed and loathe to retell the story.

No, you see, as I lay there, face down in the brand new carpet, struggling to breathe due to being winded from the struggle and the huge peals of laughter racking my body at the absurdity of my situation, I took in a huge gasp of air which unfortunately also brought with it a sizeable chunk of brand new carpet fuzz which lodged itself in my throat. I instantly began hacking and coughing like crazy. PigPen immediately asked if I was okay; when I choked out "NO!" in between coughs he released me from his grip o' steel and I quickly stumbled into the kitchen, where I spent the next 30-45 minutes gripped in heaving convulsions trying to expel the incredibly persistent piece of carpet. The kicker to the whole thing was that it lead to me vomiting a few times; to understand how this affected me, you have to know that, as a general rule, I don't vomit. Prior to that night, there have been a total of three occasions in my memory when I have thrown up, and each one of those times I was deathly ill with the flu. *** At that point in time, the fact that my night of wrestling had ended with me standing over a sink, puking like crazy struck me as proof that I was out of my league, making a fool of myself, establishing myself as a laughingstock, etc. etc. Never mind that there's no correlation between how well I did or didn't do grappling with PigPen and the fact that I accidentally inhaled something that made me vomit -- well, outside of the fact that it was my not doing very well grappling with PigPen that lead to me being face down in the carpet and therefore in the position to inhale something which made me vomit . . . so maybe there is a bit of a correlation after all . . . Anyhow, I found myself apologizing to PigPen for the situation, and he kept telling me to shut up and let it go, there was nothing to apologize for or be ashamed of. But those words went in one ear and out the other; the shame had set in, and would not be easily dislodged.

About the time that I had finally managed to get my heaving under control, I saw the wad of paper go floating past my head, only to land on the kitchen tile. "Now, I tossed it to you gently," PigPen said from the other room "and I'm giving you another chance to just throw it away." And of course, any sane person, having just been thoroughly beaten and then thrown up a good portion of their dinner, would quickly thank PigPen for his magnanimous gesture, and throw the offending projectile away.

I have never claimed to be a sane person.

Think of it as an after-effect of the shame of how Round 3 ended, mingled with light-headedness from the vomiting; horribly self-conscious about being perceived as a wimp, I didn't want to complete the image by giving in. Not that I was planning on launching another battle with him anytime soon, mind you; I might be crazy, but I’m not totally stupid. No, in my mind, I would save the instigating object until the next day, when I was recovered and he wouldn't be expecting it. Of course, I should have known better than to try to pull one over on PigPen; about 30 minutes later, the following conversation took place:

PigPen: So, Todd . . . did you throw it away?
Me: What, do you think I'm crazy?
PigPen: [pause] Did you throw it away?
Me: After what I just went through?
PigPen: [slightly longer pause] Did you throw it away?
Me: What would you do if I said no?
PigPen: [silently stares]
Me: What would you do if I said yes?
PigPen: [silently stares some more]
Me: What would you do if I said maybe?
PigPen: The question is, what are you going to say? [pause] Did you throw it away?

At that point, unable to keep it under control any longer, I broke into nervous "oh, crap, he's going to kill me now, isn't he?" laughter; PigPen once again sighed and shook his head in an "I can't believe this dope has managed to survive 30-plus years, let alone graduated with an honor's degree" sort of way before advancing on me; After easily thwarting my half-hearted struggle he finally did what he should have done in the first place if he really wanted to put an end to the mess, and threw it away himself.


A little while later, while we were watching TV, PigPen suddenly got an evil grin on his face, turned to me, and made a joke about the preceding which I refuse to share on a family-friendly blog****; while I laughed, I also inwardly groaned because I knew that now, armed with a naughty punch line, PigPen was not going to let the story drop. And indeed he did not, sharing it with The Anti-Cap'n, Peanut, and Crawdad as soon as he got the chance; and, to compound matters, Crawdad, upon hearing the story, decided to make the naughty punch line into a new nickname for me. So, I am now burdened with an innuendo-laced nickname which I, in all honesty, loathe with a fiery passion, especially since it will only serve to remind me of one of the more humiliating moments in my life.

And yet, the truth is that, up until the new carpet turned on me, I was actually having fun, finally getting a chance to get some aggression out in a way that was a bit more direct than just throwing combinations in PigPen's general direction; sure, PigPen mopped the floor with me, but I have to admit that there's something almost freeing about entering into a competition in which I know beforehand I have absolutely no chance of winning. Which is why I more than likely would have already tried to challenge PigPen to a rematch if it weren't for that other highly embarrassing moment of my previous week which has left a lasting impression a bit more physical than psychological, but more on that later.

*"It wasn't condescension" PigPen told me later, "it was just me slowly and simply explaining to you what was going to happen." Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.
**i.e. my history of neurotic, paranoid, self-loathing behavior
***Two Christmases and a Thanksgiving, by the way
****I would urge PigPen not to reveal his beloved jest at my expense here, but I fear such a plea would fall on deaf ears


Redneck. Diva. said...

I hate those new carpet fuzzies!! Although I have never inhaled one, I have vacuumed up quite a few. Oh gosh, what a testament to my utter lack of a life...

Man, after reading that story, I SO wish I was a guy. We girls don't get to, as my kids say, "rassle" like you guys do. It seems to only be acceptable if there is Jell-O or mud involved and well, I have no desire whatsoever to dig foreign goo from...oh nevermind. I just wish I was a guy.

PigPen said...

To tell or not to tell....... that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of....... well, ME! Decisions, decisions....... Well, for once your in luck Todd my friend. I will NOT divulge the in-appropriate statement that I made here in a family setting. I WILL, on the other hand, let everyone who wants to know that they can send me a message on MySpace ( and I will reply with the joke (or jokes, I should say) that followed Todd's convulsions.

I would like to point out, in my defense, that it was NOT condescension I was displaying towards Todd when I offered that if he threw it away, we could call it even. It was a way out and a plea for logic and reason...... I now see that those were wasted, but at least I tried. The logic and reason was that I had wresteled from kindergarten thru my senior year of high school and probably could have wrestled on the college level if I had been so inclined...... Todd has had zero (unless you count what we watch on the UFC) wrestling experience. I knew no good would come of this......

My last note is that I asked Todd several times (while he stood at the sink racking his body with hacks, coughs and the occasional vomit) if he was OK, if he needed anything or if there was anything I could do..... all with genuine concern.

Like Todd said in one of his previous blogs...... I'm not the devil, I just play one in his blog. :)

The Lovable Pigpen

Cap'n Neurotic said...

I still maintain that if you really thought no good would come of it, and were really looking out for my best interests, your best bet was throw the paper away yourself; and, if you were really trying to draft a plea for logic and reason, it should have been phrased in a "hey, man, I don't want to hurt you, maybe you should take it easy" sort of way -- not that it would have worked, I probably would have just been insulted even though it was the honest truth and still felt compelled to try to "prove" myself, but whatever. I mean, after having had to have put up with my psychotic tendencies day in and day out for close to a year now, you should have realized (a) that giving me a "choice" really gave me no choice at all.and (b) pleas for logic and reason are wasted on my neurotic mind.

No, my good friend and constant nemesis, while you did show great concern about my well-being there at the end, I do believe that there was a part of you hoping I'd take you up on the challenge so that you would get a chance to slap me around but still be able to play the "it's not my fault, he brought it on himself" card.

Of course, as usual, trying to argue against you is merely going to lead to me feeling like this so I'm not sure why I even bother.

Oh, wait: I'm a masochist who is compelled to pick fights I know I can't win, that's why.

PigPen said...

Oh contrare, mon frare..... or however you spell that. It is I who feel like that

Trying to deal with your neurotic paranoia on a day to day basis makes me want to shoot myself in the face with a bazooka! Where most people see just 'normal' behavior, your twisted mind fabricats some unseen, unpercieved lunacy which you then get obsessed over. Thus is a day in the life of everyone who lives with Capn Neurotic on Benjiman St.

Again..... I'm not the devil, I just play one in his blog!

The Lovable Pigpen

Cap'n Neurotic said...

First of all, if anyone gets to shoot you in the face with a bazooka, it's going to be me; you're not depriving me of that pleasure, dagnabit!

Second of all, I think there's a bit of latent hostility directed towards me there which supports my "looking for an excuse to kick Todd's butt" theory of the night in question.

And finally, I think if we took a moment we could agree that we each of us makes the other feel like punching ourselves in the face in an endless loop; it's pretty much the foundation of our friendship.