Ah Springtime. Time to trim the roses and engage in a uniquely suburban ritual known as "The Laying Of The Sod".
After two harsh Houston winters in a row with a couple of summers of the alien invasion of (key ominous backgroud music) "THE CINCH BUGS FROM THE 19TH DIMENSION" that ate up big chunks of my yard, it was time here recently to put down new grass, to "re-sod".
So like the dutiful suburban animal that I am I reluctantly gretfully put down my cigar and my cold Corona and headed over to the local "Plants R' Us" store for some plants, top soil and a little greenery.
Well, not really. I just picked up a few things, paid out and then drove over to get in line for the big stuff.
While waiting in a long line of Suburban Assault Vehicles for my turn a man walked up and asked if I was getting grass. I restrained myself from making bad hippie jokes about how far out the Maui Wowie was today and said I was at this moment picking up topsoil before I did the grass thing. He said thanks and walked away.
In front of me tho' was a woman who was buying enough sod to re-do a football stadium (or graze a large herd of llama's). The guy who had asked me what I was buying was told by the loader to drive ahead of the woman and I to the next station, where they could load his sod. The woman, at the first station in front of me, had by that time taken all the sod so she motored herself up to the second station and lo' and behold ...... found the guy already in line ahead of her and they were ...... GASP ...... LOADING HER SOD IN THE BACK OF HIS PICKUP TRUCK.
YOU B___TARD! YOU M-F''ING B___TARD! YOU'RE STEALING MY GRASS! GET OUT OF LINE! I WAS HERE FIRST AND THE SOD IS MINE .... ALL MINE!
My reaction in watching this developing drama was to immediately turn down the CD player and roll down the window so-as to not miss one juicycomment made by either participant. And boy ... did it get juicy .... and loud ..... and animated. I've haven't heard such language out of a woman since buying a beer at the Brass Monkey on Saturday night full moon payday when I was in college and the oil field workers were in town off the drilling rigs and bumping shoulders with the Marine carrier pilots from the Navy base and someone stiffed the waitress for her tip and walked the ticket.
Suddenly this paragon of suburban pulchritude is waving both of her hands in the air. Oh I thought. She wants to be friends with the nice gentlemen. The he waves both of his hands in the air the same way. Oh I thought. How nice that they both speak the same sign language. ;-)
Well long drama short. He got his grass and she got hers and it didn't come to fisticuffs (although I know that many of hte spectators, including yours truly, where sorta hopin' for a new event to enter into the WWF complete with sod pallets and all).
Now, you ask, why is Sensei writing about this?
Simply speaking ........ the woman came very close to committing suicide.
If that had been anywhere other than broad daylight and in an upscale area of Houston and if the man she was yelling at had been, oh shall we say, a little "coarser" around the edges then she very well could have talked herself into an assault with some big-time battery thrown in for fun. Nothing like exploring the ER benfits on that new medical insurance plan you bought last week.
My dad always said to pick your fights and be smart about where you are because you never know who could be behind you and who might be friends with the guy you're yelling at. My old Sensei was fond of saying "Never pick on an old man until you know what kind of young man he was".
Zanshin is not just looking at uke after you throw him down in class. It's also knowing where you are and what your shortcomings are and what their strong suits are. A fat woman in an SUV yelling and flipping the bird at a guy who looked like a tackle for Texas A&M and who had done nothing wrong other than to follow the directions given him by the sod loaders and nursery attendants is not very smart. He would have been justified in putting his head in her car and having a very direct conversation with her ........ but he didn't and actually showed some smart self-control and ignored her attempts to become the lead character out of The Taming of the Shrew.
Morals to follow in your life ............................
Don't let your mouth overload your butt.
Know where you are and do not program yourself to automatically fly off the handle at every little insignificant provocation that comes your way.
Pick your place.
Understand the circumstances.
Use good judgement and some discretion in how you react, what you say and what threats you voice and direct at others.
You just might avoid stepping off into someplace that you really don't want to be.
L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudokan, Houston, TX