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Stalling between two fools

Updated: Jan 30, 2022

Any resemblance to the post below is coincidental and not based on reality.

PQ typically wore blue jeans. That day he was also wearing a purple scarf around his neck.

We were in the Junior year of our nerdy Physics Hons. classes.

PQ came to our table at the cafeteria, where I was having an academic discussion with friends. Shaking with anger he said “You know what just happened? I was insulted by some seniors because of my scarf.”

Someone had actually tugged at his scarf, commented on it, and asked him not to wear it again.

I was bemused. PQ’s mannerisms - his lovable facial contortions, arching of eyebrows with eyeballs popping out when he spoke - were often the subject of discussion among the girls and boys in our class, not that he approved. “I can’t help it you know,” he would say. In any case scarves on male students were hitherto unknown in our JU campus. It seemed like a harmless practical poke by seniors, all in jest.

But Big P was quite disturbed and quivering. Like an instant idiot, I felt a need to do something. With friends in tow, I asked him to take us to the perpetrators.

Approaching the “crime scene,“we saw SH, the primary cause of this kerfuffle (quietly pointed out by PQ), in the midst of a group. SH was a large swarthy fellow with a badass reputation of sorts. He was leaning back on a column on a 2nd floor balcony, his hands in his pockets, nonchalantly chatting with friends.

One of my friends whispered to me from behind not to mess with SH (now that he was identified as the instigator in chief), but it was too late. The hulk had already seen me approaching; taking a u-turn would have been a volte face.

My knees knocking but my voice steady, I asked SH what he had said to PQ (as if it was any of my business). SH’s (classic) response in a (cultivated) baritone was: “Do you have any idea who I am?”

I raised my voice (to avoid an impending tremolo) and said that all I knew was that we were not freshmen any more and hazing was off the table.

I even ventured to suggest that he shouldn‘t do it again or there would be trouble, hoping that SH knew that my friend (behind me) was reputed to have contacts in the nether world. I even managed to manufacture my own baritone when I said “trouble” after a dramatic pause.

SH seemed stupefied and remained silent. I walked away (quite apprehensive about my own immediate future).

My home phone rang late that evening. A voice said, “This is SH. I need you to come to the campus football field right now.”

I recognized the voice to be a class mate’s and not SH’s.

Obviously it was a prank call, but the line clicked off fast and I wasn’t quite certain that it was (a prank).

Not to lose face, at the same time trembling with fear, I ripped the chain off my bicycle (for defensive purposes) and headed to the football field. (Thank God guns were not easily available).

I waited in the darkness. And waited. No one came.

Next day I asked the prime suspect, who I thought actually made the phone call, if he did make the call. He asked what happened, and I told him, quite annoyed, that he made me waste my time in the middle of a dark field.

My classmate fell off his bench and literally rolled on the floor laughing.

He said his dorm mate had told him that I would never fall for the prank, but I did.

I was pleasantly surprised that SH swallowed his pride, and did not ever retaliate. My words must have been a humiliation of sorts to his badass reputation, that too in front of his friends. As far as I know, SH never bothered BB again.

Big P never acknowledged my support. I don’t think he recognized the level of risk I took in confronting SH. I didn‘t know anything about his

”scarf problem“ till he came to me (nursing his rage all the way to the distant cafeteria), and told me about it. In hindsight, I should have not taken up his cause. Although he led me to SH, I have a hunch he immediately went lickety-split to avoid the actual confrontation. It would be potentially more than he could handle, just in case he was dragged into the fray.

I suspect I’d have forgotten about this incident (and you wouldn’t be reading this garbage) if he‘d bought me a cup of tea at the cafeteria afterward, or acknowledged the confrontation in any way.

We remain cordial with each other, but he protested and denied the details when I chided him - twice in forty years.

I’ve whined to my better half (we were all students in the same Physics class) a couple of times, about the number of situations where Big P has helped himself to my support, without expressing gratitude even once, but she consistently defends him, at the same time disparaging me as confrontational. Go figure.

I found out that PQ’s visited my mom, my sister, (not my dad), my fiance, in my absence (without my knowledge), multiple times. Wimmenfolk generally see him through his eloquent expressive pupils. My sister always has the generic “Oh, such a sweet guy” attitude towards him.

I do need to acknowledge that PQ has known my fiancé - now wife - for as long as I’ve known her. In fact, he will speak with her for hours and then briefly with her intellectually bankrupt husband.

I still maintain that if I got even one acknowledgement from PQ (not for the visits but for the favors), I would not remember any of this.

I myself consider PQ to be a respectable old chap. His best trait, in my opinion, is that he would not harm anybody or anything ever. His nature is farthest removed from malice, among people I know and PQ also has a strong sense of impromptu humor.

And his eyes - his eyes and eyebrows would make you swoon.

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