There was never a moment when I stepped out with Baby Girl to a party and regretted it. We had nothing but good times. But whenever we hit the town, I felt an extra amount of pressure to be aware of our surroundings at all times and keep her out of any uncomfortable situations.
This was not because of how she acts. Anyone who has been around her knows she doesn’t call attention to herself. This comes with the territory of being a man. (By the way, Baby Girl is an ex girlfriend who happens to be the most physically attractive girl I’ve ever dated. People always wondered how I snagged her and to be honest, I saw her as being wayyy out of my league for the longest time)
From the days I was a young boy with an even younger sister to look out for, I have understood it as my duty to always be on notice when out with a woman. My cues came from watching my mom and dad walk alongside each other in public spaces. Even if they had just been arguing with each other, once out in the world, around others dad always stayed close to my mother, allowing very little space between him and her and sending a clear message to any man who may have been staring at her from afar.
Now I find myself doing the same thing with any girl I date and with good reason.
Without fail, the minute I put some space between myself and Baby Girl at a party, there was usually some guy sizing her up and approaching her. Luckily most of the time, she and I can found a way to diffuse it without any awkwardness or problems. Our go-to move was me coming up to her and showing her some affection, nothing too brazen or imposing. Since she knew exactly what I was doing, she was receptive and followed along, letting the guy who was trying to ask what her interests are know that we were together. Most guys played this off with ease. Some of them would introduce themselves to me then back off. Others, fully aware of what was happening, would humbly back away without saying a word.
This is not what happened at a Christmas party we attended.
As the party was nearing its end, I was helping one of my other friends look for his keys in the main area while Baby Girl was on the balcony. She was sitting on the edge of a chair with a few other friends who were lounging, sipping the remnants of their drinks. The sliding door was open, so as I was looking for the keys, I noticed a guy I didn’t know sitting next to Baby Girl talking to her. She wasn’t looking at him. She was staring down at the floor, obviously not interested in what this guy had to say but listening to be polite. I paused the key search and walked over to her.
I gently pulled her into my arms as I stood above her. “Babe, are you okay?” I asked. The guy looked up at me and then turned to Baby Girl and said, “Oh, is this is your man?”
“Yep, that’s him,” she said.
“What’s up?” I said, as I reached my hand out to shake him. “My name is NB.” This is how I usually diffuse a situation, by introducing myself and being cordial. For a second, it seemed to work, as the guy stretched out his hand to shake mine. But then he said “I gotta admit, I wish you weren’t here right now.” He said this right in front of Baby Girl.
With no hesitation I replied, “It really doesn’t matter; she’s always going to choose me.”
Baby Girl chimed in, “That’s right.”
“Oh, you’re confident,” he said. “I respect that. I respect that.”
Then, he walked away.
A few people on the balcony overheard it and laughed. Baby Girl and I laughed. This situation felt completely normal in that it happened way more often than I wish it would.
But the next day when I shared this encounter for fun on Facebook, I was surprised at how serious other people took it. While no one told me I punked out, more than a few people, women and men, said they would have handled it differently. When I say “differently” I mean they said their reactions would have been violent or at the very least, confrontational.
After reading a few more comments that shared this sentiment, I asked myself why a violent thought never crossed my mind (not that it wouldn’t have in the past but I like to think I had matured beyond that point). There is no doubt that what the guy said to me was disrespectful. I clearly understood why it would have been acceptable for me to swing at that guy.
But the reason I did not is because I never want to be the guy who swings first. Violence had ceased to be my preferred method of diffusing a situation, whether with woman was involved or not, and nobody knew this about me more than Baby Girl. Had I swung at this guy in an attempt to show both the guy and my girl I don’t tolerate disrespect, I can’t imagine Baby would have retained much respect for me, and I cared more about her respect for me than I did about the guy’s respect for me. Maybe I would have gotten the best of him — hit him with a right, hit him with a left — and knocked his ass out like fight night. But life isn’t a Brad Pitt movie. I could have missed my punch, and he could have given me a face beat (not the kind given by MUAs).
At some point, every man is going to face a situation similar to the one I was in that Christmas. It is a pop quiz — but pay close attention to the question being asked. Because it is not as simple as testing your toughness. These tests are being given to determine who we really are and how true we can remain to ourselves under moments of duress. It is no longer in my nature to fight just because of a comment like that. I didn’t feel threatened, my lady was not in any danger, so I responded to his words with my own words, and that was enough.
The idea of fighting him was never on the table because like so many other moments when I’m with my lady, I’m not thinking about fighting so much as I’m thinking about keeping her safe. What that requires is something more than the ability to throw fists and take a punch. It requires an awareness of what’s going on around her and the ability to think on your toes when confronted with an awkward situation. I have nothing against a man who would have handled the situation differently. If I was watching from the sidelines and a man responded to what that guy said with a challenge to fight, I wouldn’t be mad at him. But there’s nothing wrong with being the guy who finds a non-physical way to pass his test.