The Unusual Suspects

unusual suspectsI’m at my Aikido lesson, and it’s hard going today. PJ isn’t here, so I am without a wingman. Moreover, I am getting over the flu and the rigors of this lesson are getting to me.

I am sweating the way most people do in a sauna or during chain gang duties in a prison film. I fear that my sweating combined with my inexperience with the sport will make me as undesirable a partner as it did at high school dances.

However, when the teacher calls for us to pair up, one of the more experienced students comes right over, smiles broadly, and bows to me. We start.

Now, to say this guy doesn’t exactly look the cuddly and friendly type is an understatement. He looks like a bad guy in a Bruce Willis film. His head is shaved, he has a ratty goatee, his cheek is decorated with a long pink scar, and he has a neck tattoo of a spider.

So, you know, not exactly someone I’d expect to see at a debutante’s ball.

We start.

One lesson martial arts has taught me each time I have done it, it’s that judging a book by its cover is perhaps one of the most inaccurate pursuits on Earth. It’s something I do all the time, and often without compunction or regret.

While I am not a harsh judge, I know enough to not engage, for example, a man covered in his own feces outside the main station selling a shoe. And though I have no particular problems with the strangers I occupy space with on a daily basis, I do make up little stories about them based on assumptions and deductions I make regarding their appearances.

He’s a miner. She’s a lonely librarian. That lady has a lover. That guy is going to the doctor.

Were I to judge Mr. Spider Tattoo, I would imagine him to be a mall security guard with the personality of a pencil. In fact, as he helps me through the technique using my low-level Czech and his low-level English, he proves to be a very pleasant gent.

On to the next partner.

The next guy could play a weenie in any American film ever made. He is completely bald on top of his head, with a thick horseshoe of hair ringing his skull. He is wearing coke-bottle glasses, his chin is the thing of modern art, and he is about 5 foot 5. And yet, when he does the technique it is clear that he could shove me inside of my own rectum and mail me to myself.

He’s pretty tough. Friendly. But tough.

The rest of the class I am paired with little girls, old men, stocky fighter types, and goofball beanpoles. All of them friendly, all of them dismantling their particular book covers by the time we have finished working together.

Oh well. Lesson for the evening learned.

Nevertheless, if that guy is still selling his shoe, I’m not buying.

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