My kickboxing instructor told me I was "a natural fighter." I told him there isn't anyone who knew me that would disagree with that.
I had been taking kickboxing off and on for a year. It was that year kickboxing was very en vouge and it really helped me for the fight scenes for THE 24th DAY. But it's MUCH different throwing a stage punch than a normal one. In a stage fight, it's the other actor that does all the work. In a stage fight, if you are throwing a punch, you have to be on the defense.
Jack was my kickboxing instructor. He was left handed. He would always start sparring by gently tapping the left side of my temple with the heel of his left hand. The "block" was raising your left elbow and knocking the arm away. This is how we started it every day. Tap, block. Tap, block. Tap, block. Tap, block.
Bob and weave. Bob and weave. Punch, kick. Punch, kick. Punch, kick.
I may not be able to throw a football, but I can throw a punch.
And I may not look it, but if I were ever dropped in the middle of a rumble, I could hold my own. I've studied Krav Maga and sai swords. So the bottomline: if an army of cartoon villains attack West Hollywood, I can defend us.
Jennah and I were walking down 13th Street toward my apartment when it happened. I heard, "hey! Hey!"
I turned, thinking I dropped something and some nice person was trying to get my attention.
As I turned, that's when he put the gun to my left temple.
And I blocked it.
I didn't mean too. I didn't even know what was happening. It was like Pavlov's experiments. And it scared the hell out of the mugger, cause his arm went over his head. He even looked at his hand and the gun as it swung upwards, like he had lost control of it.
When he realized that I had knocked it away, he brought it right back down to my forehead and pulled the hammer back. I don't know what kind of gun it was, but it was that kind that you hear a hammer being pulled back that says, "you're about to die."
"Dude, I'm mugging you."
It all happened so fast. The second guy got Jennah. I could only see them out of the corner of my eye. I heard her yelp and he pushed her against a fence. (At the time, the condos that are at the corner of 13th and Juniper were going up, so the entire area was under construction.)
He looked like he had a rolled up newspaper, which I immediately accessed could have a pipe inside. (I watch way too much television.) The other guy took Jennah's wallet.
I handed my guy my wallet. He ran his hands down my arms and stopped on my hands. I was wearing the four rings that I wore in the show. I balled up and pulled my hands back (like really, you can take my wallet, but you're not taking my five dollar rings) and I was suddenly in "fight" stance.
I wasn't really scared as much as I was ANGRY. Dude was taking my wallet and had a gun on me. And in the back of my head, I felt safe because it was almost like I had brought this on myself by saying earlier in the day, "I was just expecting some huge adrenaline rush from the sky diving and I didn't get it."
He was clearly ON something. He was shaking and moving around and I realized in that moment, I could nail this guy in the groin and face and he wouldn't know what hit him.
BUT - there was a second guy and I couldn't see him.
I lowered my hands. He spun me around and I thought, well this is it. He's going to blow the back of my head off. Great. I'm going to spend eternity haunting 13th Street. Children will tell the tales of the ghost of the headless actor looking for his wallet.
"Start walking and don't look back."
We did. It was a LONG walk to the apartment. I kept expecting to get shot in the back. And we were too afraid to turn around and see if they had run away.
We made it to my building. I was living in The Parc Vue at the time. The doorman called the cops. We went upstairs and woke my roommate, Linda.
I don't really remember much of what happened after that. The cops came. They took a statement. That was it.
When I finally got in bed, I kept scratching my temple. I could still feel the gun on my temple. And I did for days. I finally ended up shaving that side of my head, but it still didn't help.
I went to work the next day. At the time I was working down at the capital for the Georgia Public Service Commission. I had a minor freak out when someone dropped their tray at lunch and they sent me home for the day.
I ended up staying home for three days. Every single sound sent me off. At one point I was in the lobby paying our rent checks and the manager was asking about the incident. While I was telling the story the front door slammed shut loudly and I screamed and nearly had a heart attack.
The afternoon of my third day, I was sent to talk to a counselor. That didn't really help, but she suggested I go out to the mall. So I went to Phipps Plaza and decided to see a movie.
Now... I'm not sure where my mindset was that said, "you're a basket case, let's go see a movie about a homicidal maniac," but I did.
It was the middle of the day and I was the only one in the theater. I was sitting in the center of the theater all by myself. Then a couple came in and sat RIGHT BEHIND ME AND WOULD NOT STOP TALKING.
I kept turning around and staring at them. That did nothing.
Then about halfway through the movie, a man walked into the theater and stood at the back with the door opened. I turned around. The couple was already staring at him. He closed the door and walked down the aisle. He stopped at the row just in front of me.
Interactive movie watching, I thought. He turned and walked down the aisle in front of me and sat down in the seat right in front of me.
Why do people always feel the need to crowd me in a theater? Why do birds suddenly appear every time I am near?
I was about to come out of my skin when he TURNED AROUND and leaned over the back of the seat, like ten inches from my face. Just staring at me.
I - LOST - IT.
"WHAT DO YOU WANT!?!?" is all I could scream right in his face. I was so angry and so scared I was about ready to bite his face off.
The guy who was behind me, jumped out of his seat and ran out of the theater. I heard him screaming for the manager.
The man in front of me, jumped up and ran out of the theater.
The man who went to call for the manager came back in and asked me if I was okay? All this time, Michelle Williams was being tortured on screen.
The manager said the guy ran out of the theater and into the food court.
I was convinced I was going to be murdered.
Somehow Jennah and I moved on eventually. The entire experience (coupled with the experience of the fall out from my college friends) made me not trust people for a long time.
Jennah and I would later do a play about Lizzie Borden. And then of course there's the story about how the police in Hilton Head pulled me over for speeding and found a bloody ax in my trunk and wanted to arrest me.
But that's a story for another time.
I've been fortunate not to be the victim of a violent crime since that time. I've had my car broken in so many times I can't even count. (My five dollar rings were eventually stolen along with my CSI MIAMI season one bag a few years after moving to LA.)
But if you tap the side of my left temple, I'll punch you.