Go RED SOX, Go! (In my head, when reading the papers.)
Truth is, Gary, I don't go to sporting events, concerts, or real crowded places because of sh*t like that.
Years ago, I got free tickets to the Celts' game with the Atlanta Hawks. Celts still had Bird and Hawks a heathy Kevin Willis. I was not never much of a spectator, except for fighting sports. Anyway, there were these two women sitting right in front of me who obviously knew little about basketball -- less than me -- except to know who Larry Bird was. They were saying really innocuous stuff like, "who's that? Why's that an offensive foul?", etc. No big deal, right? Well, bad day for the home team. Hawks were kicking butt and taking no prisoners. The women were still saying really neophyte stuff and giggling. All of sudden two guys to the rear and left of me started screaming at the women, "Shut the F**K up you stupid b*tches! Why are you here?" The women retorted with their own salvo of French. This went back and forth. I got up and left. Even though I wasn't on the receiving end of it, it was very unpleasant to watch and hear.
I broke my own rule about crowded events when I went to the recent Blade Show in Atlanta Georgia, and a sort of second rule/peference about not crossing the Mason Dixie line. In addition to the show, I was meeting up with some FMA guys to train. I only knew three folks -- the Instructor, the assistant and a student -- and nothing about the rest. Well, two southerners in the group I didn't know offered to pick me up at the airport which was a good 40 miles from the show and hotel. I was a bit uneasy when these two huge mountains of men came up to me in the luggage area and asked me if I was so and so. They recognized me because they were given my description: short, bald asian guy. Not too many in the Atlanta Airport. Turned out these guys were real gentlemen, in a quiet deadly sort of way. I had a great time at the show. No hassles. Of course, it helped that just about everybody was packing a knife or two if not a gun or two.
Some interesting things (at least for me): I was outside smoking in the loading area of the convention center. A guy came out to do the same. He asked me in a Southern draw, "what do ya think of the show?" I told him I was new to this stuff. We got to talking about knives, blades, steels and stuff. Turned out the guy is a Master bladesmith who forges his own steel for knives. He spent at least half an hour with me, explaining stuff that would've taken books and hours to understand. Such kindness and consideration.
I was in my hotel room when one of the guys who picked me up at the airport called, "Whatcha doing?" "Nothing", I said He said he'll be over in five minutes to show me some stuff. Soon he was over with his assorted goodies -- various knives and weapons (no guns, he was from out of state), a large notebook he had assembled of various charts and descriptions of the human anatomy with respect to crippling, bleeding, and killing targets, etc. Pretty gruesome stuff, actually. "Nice" said I. He was going to make copies for people in the classes. We got to talking about training, life experiences, etc. Anyway, at some point, he said, "I don't why but my brother hates Orientals. He goes around beating them up when he sees them. Me. I ain't got problem with them. I ain't got no problem with you. My brother and I are from the same womb, same blood coursing through us. Go figure..." I said, "Hate is there in every group, including mine, and I've been caught in that to." I felt a kinship with this man who is from another place, another culture.
During training, I noticed an indentation on thigh of the other guy who picked me up at the airport. I've seen those before. In a quiet moment, I asked the guy, "How did you get shot?" He looked embarassed for a moment and said, "I shot myself while messing around with my gun." He showed me the exit hole in the back side the thigh just above the knee. "I was lucky. Didn't damage the bone and just went through the muscle." I later learned this guy used to be with the ATF and did some undercover infiltration of hate groups.
Finally, on the last day, I was sitting in the hotel lobby with this Korean guy who works as an engineer for the Air Force base in Georgia. Some white women walked by with some black men. He grimaced. I said, "What's matter? In a whisper, he said, "I hate it when white women date black guys." I asked, "You don't approve of cross racial relationships?" His reply, "Just black and white. I don't mind if they date me." Well... I just left it at that. Go figure.
It's the cynical side of me. I expect the worst and get that sometimes. But I am always surprised by the kindness, respect and gentleness of some the people I meet as well.
[This message has been edited by david (edited 07-23-99).]