“In some countries, it’s considered bad form to urinate while wearing a hat,” I said.
“Okay. So what’s your point?”
I didn’t have one — a point, that is.
The etiquette of taking a leak while wearing, or not wearing a hat, was simply a distraction.
It’s a trick I learned from my mum. My dad had no need to bamboozle a bully — he had always been able to take care of himself. I didn’t inherit his physique, so other measures were required to escape the clutches of a tormenter.
The technique was simple and in two parts.
The second part came from my grandfather. He understood dogs.
“Never take a backward step when confronted by a dog. They read body language at the speed of light. Flinch or take a backward step, and they see you as weak. Never back away from a bully either.”
The first part of the process involves confusing the bully, who usually hunts with a pack. Confuse them for long enough, and they get bored, or their friends do, which is even better.
“Come on Steve this bloke’s nuts, and we’ve got stuff to do.”
The sound of your back-up Neanderthals drifting away is a powerful persuader.
It has to be said that my big mouth got me into a heap of trouble, but I could talk my way out of most of it.
In the dog world, eye contact is reserved for other members of the pack, otherwise, it is seen as a challenge.
In the human world, eye contact is seen as a sign of strength.
If you stare at someone, there is a good chance that they will think that you can handle yourself. A small smile helps to complete the picture. Not too big a smile, that could make things worse.
As I hoped, my tormentor’s friends got bored and encouraged him to thump me or go with them in search of easier prey.
He wandered off, leaving me with a not very well veiled threat.
It wasn’t our last encounter, but eventually, his tiny brain maxed itself out, and his parents took him out of school and ensconced him in a dead-end job where I’m sure he lived out his days.
I went on to be an even bigger big-mouth, and it continued to get me into and out of trouble.
And I’m not sure I would have had it any other way.