I’m not sure whether Bruce’s sense of humor was “Chinese” or uniquely his own. Bruce used to act like a geek and let a street punk goad him. When the punk swung, Bruce would block it awkwardly and snap at the punk’s groin and incapacitate him with a blow that appeared to be an accident. As the punk rolled in pain, Bruce would cover his mouth with his hand and titter effeminately, then walk off. “A person can accept getting beaten by someone who is stronger or bigger than he is,” Bruce would explain, “but if he thinks he’s been beaten by a nerd, he’ll be pissed off for the rest of his life.”
All the outbursts of nationalist machismo and talk of “balls” this week reminded me of this anecdote. I’ve always loathed that type all my life — the knuckle-dragging, towel-snapping, rooster-strutting, macho meathead, obsessed with his dick and where he can put it. I studied martial arts when I was younger (a mixture of karate and aikido called niharate, mainly, plus some judo), and I used to harbor some intense fantasies of one day using those skills to humiliate jocks, rednecks and other testosterone-addled cretins. An artist friend of mine who had also dabbled in martial arts used to join me in dressing provocatively, with our super-long hair (I let mine grow from age 15-23), gaudy, dangly earrings and other jewelry, and slightly androgynous clothing. We got plenty of “Faggot!” jeers from across the room (and responded by blowing kisses just as often), but amazingly, never got any outright confrontations over it. Eventually, I realized that once I had achieved a certain ability to cause serious harm if I wanted to, the urge to do so faded. Most of that anger was born of powerlessness, and when you finally have the actual power to break bones easily or incapacitate someone with a few short moves, you feel a responsibility to not abuse that power. Dammit.
Still, I always thought that was the most deliciously awesome story. I love that kind of humor.