Friday, April 14, 2006

A Brief History of Violence

The world gained four new and probably unwitting Nabokov scholars at 10:30 last night, when, amid my walk home from teaching my grad class, I got roughed up a little and had my backpack stolen by a noticeably bored-looking foursome. Aside from a sore jaw, where the first guy hit me before I dropped to the ground, I assure you all that I am absolutely fine—literally, not a scratch on me, and none of the punches or kicks (of which there really weren't many, as these things go) were anywhere near my face, ribs, teeth, whatever. I walk home on one of the best-lit and most-traveled streets in Hartford, and as soon as I relinquished my backpack, all four guys were gone, not even 15 seconds after the incident began. I was home within minutes, and well taken care of by the cops who logged the case and by the friend who took me to the emergency room, where we quickly decided the promised 3-hour wait (and this beginning at 1:15am!) wasn't really worth it. So far, I'm not even bruised anywhere, though I'll keep you updated about any late-breaking iridescence, if it comes in any particularly cool colors. I might still go to a Convenient Care drop-in center today to make sure my jaw is just sore and not actually damaged or dislocated—which I really, truly don't think that it is, since I'm in no pain whatsoever—but otherwise, case closed.

If you're reading this and know my family, please don't mention any of this yet, since I haven't had a chance to let them know; I'm posting this now because news travels nowhere faster than among blog-friends, and I didn't want to alarm anyone who reads Tim R's typically kind and compassionate remarks in his Comments section, following what had already been a supremely generous and chummy post.

As for the pirates' haul: I doubt that my paperback of Lolita, Harold Bloom's critical anthology concerning same, and Frank Bidart's Desire can possibly be what they had in mind, as was confirmed by the spat-out "We don't want this shit!" overheard from a block away, after the first disappointed rummage through my knapsack. Small comfort: any roving bands of high-school-age street thugs overheard spouting "The Second Hour of the Night" will hereby render themselves unduly suspicious, not to mention remarkably erudite. What they're doing with the glasses they knocked off my face I can only imagine, and presumably, they got a little happier when/if they discovered the brand-new digital camera in the pen pouch, making my new headshot at the top of this blog a very, very limited edition. Nothing turned up along the walk back to work this morning except two pens and my dirt-smeared papaya lip-balm; when I didn't find anything in the nearest, fullest public trash can, I was (perversely) almost as disappointed to have what I considered a very savvy forensic instinct unrewarded as I was not to find my stuff. And obviously, compared to having my health, teeth, wallet, keys, etc., what got taken ain't diddly. Now that I've filed all the requisite reports, I'll happily rack it up to Just One Of Those Things... except for the fact that clearly, taxes aside, I get to do whatever the f*** I want this weekend.


Blogger Dr. S said...

Damn straight you get to do whatever you want, and then when you come here we'll do whatever you want here, as well (aside from all that required stuff). Fucking kids. I'm sorry that this happened to you, and I'm sorry that you lost your digital camera, and I'm sorry they took one of your books, and I'm just sorry. Not apologetic, obviously--just regretful that it happened. I'm glad that you're OK and will keep thinking about you.

9:18 AM, April 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My god, Nick, I'm so glad you're ok. Please, yes, do whatever you want this weekend. (Bonus points if it involves watching lots of movies.) The taxes can wait until Monday.

9:26 AM, April 14, 2006  
Blogger John T said...

Yeah Nick, make sure to do whatever you want this weekend-watch a movie, read a book, have some gin. Glad to hear you're ok.

9:33 AM, April 14, 2006  
Blogger tim r said...

Nick, I've already expressed my fury over this incident, and I'll echo the above and say thank goodness you're alright, but, honestly, trust you to transform what must have been a horrible and traumatising few minutes into a comic set piece worthy of Kingsley Amis. It's good to see they didn't steal your funny bone, or injure it much! Dear God you make me laugh.

Ideally I'd want you to spend your weekend writing a comic novel about academia, complete with accidental Nabokov theft (and maybe comeuppance?) to make White Teeth and Wonder Boys look like the scrawlings of kindergarten kids. But I understand if you'd rather just say f**k the world and eat Haagen-Dazs and watch movies starring Jessica Lange. Have fun!

10:15 AM, April 14, 2006  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

ohmygod. i suddenly feel like an unwitting bodyguard since I left just one day before this happened! I'm so glad to hear you're all right.

But you must know that emergency rooms are TOTALLY in right now. Ryan and I spend the evening in one as well as he sliced his finger open making a sandwich. I should have never taken him to "Drawing Restraint 9" ---he'll do anything Bjork & Matthew Barney do, the damn sheep. (good thing he didn't have a flensing knife!

10:27 AM, April 14, 2006  
Blogger tim r said...

Obviously I meant On Beauty. Hysterics does that to a person.

10:28 AM, April 14, 2006  
Blogger Dr. S said...

I did also think, when I started reading your post, leave it to Nick to introduce a mugging with such comic flair. Unwitting Nabokov scholars indeed.

11:28 AM, April 14, 2006  
Blogger qta said...

i am glad you are ok Nick. And I am sorry about the incident and your loss of precious things. That said, I agree with Dr.S... this is a beautiful and witty post.. had me laughing.

11:51 AM, April 14, 2006  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

Update care of the doctor's office: no serious damage whatsoever, just some bruising and swelling in my jaw, especially on the right side. Nothing that Advil, ice-packs, and Ben & Jerry's Oatmeal Cookie Ice Cream can't cure. Seriously, that's what it said on the prescription pad. No, for real.

2:57 PM, April 14, 2006  
Blogger Yaseen Ali said...

It's bad enough when these sorts of things happen, but when they happen to people as generous and kind as you Nick... I can't understand it. But I am so glad to hear that you're okay, and on top of it all, you being able to look at this ordeal in this manner.

I'll echo everyone else and say - do whatever you want this weekend, taxes be damned!

4:01 PM, April 14, 2006  
Blogger keep showing up said...

Nick,I'm relieved to hear those thugs didn't shatter your jaw or teeth that enable your incredible smile, or for that matter your graciousness that enables you to lace your retelling with laughter.

I'm not there yet. But trying.

MoFos messed with the WRONNNGGGG person. I'm angry enough to rip the head off, AND his hoodie, offa any hoodlum with the NERVE to touch your backpack. With my bare teeth. Chomping at the bit. Yeah, that angry.

i'd planned to adore your new blog picture, before your post mentioned why it's a limited edition. :-( i hope your camara (maybe via ebay, maybe via local digital processing place) will resurface. stranger twists have happened.

6:40 PM, April 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus, Dr. Nick, I'm so glad to hear you're okay. And as always, I'm impressed and charmed by that sense of humor of yours!

Be well, and by all means go rockstar or couch potato this's YOUR post-roughed-up weekend of fun!

-Jocelyn Giannini

7:08 PM, April 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:18 PM, April 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm very glad to hear you're okay!

7:19 PM, April 14, 2006  
Blogger Poking-Stick Man said...

This makes me actively angry. Rest assured that I am reserving an extremely vigorous stick-poking for these Nabokovian hoodlums.

I'm glad to know that you're okay.

10:00 PM, April 14, 2006  
Blogger par3182 said...

not the face, the pretty pretty face!

so glad you're ok, and relieved that you're soon to move from the ghetto to the crime-free streets of chicago.

2:16 AM, April 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

N - glad i got to talk to you last night and to hear that you're ok. I promise that Chicago is much nicer:) Can't wait to see you soon - xoxo - jenn

8:11 AM, April 16, 2006  
Blogger StinkyLulu said...


11:30 AM, April 16, 2006  
Blogger amanda said...

OK, this is not good. I go away for a weekend and miss all this?! How terrible. And to think this happened in the land of the Gilmore Girls (yes, I know I just outed myself as a fan, but I'm totally freaked out that something this bad could have happened and I didn't know). Call me back all ready, fool! I miss you.

10:43 PM, April 17, 2006  

Post a Comment

<< Home