Three Thoughts About The Uppercut Heard Round The Internet

1. It was 5th grade and I was on a school bus, headed back from a class field trip. Because we had been acting up on the way there, we had assigned seats. I was sitting next to “Kim Johnson” — a fellow 5th grader who I maybe said five words to the entire time I was in school.

Anyway, I forgot exactly what caused me to do this — I think a friend sitting behind me called my name — but for some reason I felt compelled to turn around in my seat and look behind me. In doing this, I must have accidentally elbowed Kim or allowed my bookbag to brush against her face. My motives remain unknown. What is known, are the consequences.

When I sat down, Kim smacked me in the face harder than I’ve ever been hit by anyone before or since. The smack was so hard that there was an audible gasp from the rest of the bus. I even vaguely remember the teacher chaperone on the bus forgetting where she was and saying “Oh shit!”

Just as memorable as the smack, though, is what I did in response to it: absolutely nothing. I sat down, looked straight ahead, and acted as if she didn’t just smack the shit out of me in front of 30 people. Strangely enough, she did the same thing, and we just sat there in silence until we got back to school.

I didn’t respond because, well, as long as I could remember, my parents (my dad especially) were very adamant about the fact that boys didn’t hit girls, and that boys who hit girls were punk-ass little boys. I wasn’t scared. I just had no idea what the f*ck to do. I’m sure my household wasn’t the only household where this lesson took place, as I’m sure most guys reading this — well, most guys with dads around — were told something similar.

Thing is, at that age, because of the repeated reminders that boys don’t hit girls, I didn’t consider the possibility that some girls actually hit people first. (I really believed all that sugar and spice bullshit, lol) Since I never even considered that possibility, I never thought to ask my dad “Well, what do I do if a girl hits me?” and I’m also certain I’m not the only boy who never thought to ask that.

I’m bringing this all up because that uppercut heard ’round the internet reminded me of the fact that some men — myself included — have absolutely no idea what to do if in a situation where a woman is potentially jeopardizing your safety. I know how to handle a guy — well, I know the socially acceptable ways to handle a guy — but women are a completely different animal. Obviously, “uppercut dat hoe” probably isn’t the best answer, but aside from knowing that I wouldn’t have punched her, I honestly have no idea what I would have done if I was that bus driver. Stop the bus? Restrain her crazy ass somehow? (Btw, it amuses me when people say things like “just restrain her.”  like grabbing someone while they’re smacking, scratching, and spitting on you is the easiest option. Shit, I’m 6’2 and 225 pound and I can’t even restrain my cat. How the f*ck am I supposed to subdue some hoodrat high off the steroids found in project Similac without exerting some real physical force?) Call the police? Call my mom and my sister to come kick her ass? Turn around, walk away, and chance them cracking you in the back of the head with a bottle?

Obviously, stop the bus and call the police is the best option, but while I maintain that he was 100% in the wrong (more on this in a bit), if he’s at all like many of the men I know, I’m (somewhat) sympathetic towards him because most guys don’t sit around thinking about “What should I do if some crazy bitch starts fighting me?” That’s a question I’ve never asked myself, and one of the reasons why I date nothing but bougie Black chicks is that I don’t ever want to.

2. It’s interesting how much of a role gender plays in how we process what happened. For instance, there’d be no negative push back if this was a female bus driver dealing with an unruly male or an unruly female patron. In fact, if it was a female bus driver knocking out some thug who threatened her, she’d probably be on “Good Morning America” this week and she’d get a shout out from the president.

Even more interesting is how much of a role gender played in what happened. If this was some male thug causing the disturbance, I doubt it would have escalated that far because the driver (male or female) probably would have called the police much sooner.

Also — and this is where I lose respect for the driver — if you watch the video, you can hear him saying “You wanna act like a man. I’ll treat you like a man” to the woman he hit. Thing is, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he would not have hit another dude like that. None whatsoever. Basically, “I’ll treat you like a man” is him saying “I’m gonna use the “treat you like a man” excuse to hit you in a way that I want people to think I’d hit a man…even though I actually would never dare hitting some random thug dude like that.”

3. You ever play the “are they ok?” game? Not sure? Well, lemme explain it. The “are they ok?” game is played when you’re out in public and you see someone completely bust their ass in a way that makes you want to see if they’re ok. Thing is, the ok has nothing to do with their safety and everything to do with the fact that you want to make sure they’re not seriously hurt first before you start laughing because, well, you don’t want to feel bad about laughing at it. (The difference between “good” and “bad” people? Good people wait to see before laughing, and bad people just don’t give a damn.)

I’m bringing this up because I played a virtual form of the “are they ok?” game after viewing that punch. I googled the woman who was hit just to make sure she was ok, because, well, I wouldn’t have been able to fully appreciate the fact that it might have been the single best uppercut I’ve ever seen.

How impressive was that uppercut? I literally jumped out of my seat when I saw it. Literally. Like, I was sitting at a table, jumped out of my seat, banged my knee on the table, and ended up knocking my laptop and my feta and shrimp omelet on the floor. I need a new laptop now (I still ate the omelet, though). In 10 years, Tyler Perry will buy the rights to that YouTube footage, cast Drake in a dreadlocked wig as the bus driver and Willow Smith as the hoodrat who just really needs a light skinned man to massage her temples at night, set the entire movie in a church parking lot, and call it “Tyler Perry Presents: Drivin Me To Heaven.”

I realize that admiring the actual punch while being disgusted by its existence takes quite a bit of cognitive dissonance. In some way, I think that being a fan of sports — football in particular — makes it a bit easier to make those distinctions. If you ever yelped at a vicious tackle, felt bad when the guy didn’t immediately get up, and felt less bad when you saw that he was going to be ok, you’ve “practiced” being able to process the ambivalent feelings felt when viewing a video like this.

Is this a dangerous thought process? I don’t know. I do know that I’ve viewed that video perhaps a dozen times now, and I feel bad that I don’t feel worse about it.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)