Rarasaur challenges: “The Alter Ego, in Latin, literally means “Second I” or “Second Self”. It can refer to an opposite side to the personality within someone, or a counterpart like a trusted friend.”
It is within the bounds of possibility that I may have multiple alter egos that arise as the occasion requires. There’s the Critic, but I’ve written about him. This one, though, is the antithesis of the Critic, although both of them pop up at the worst of times. The Tiger comes out without warning when I see someone being bullied. And, strangely, I don’t have to like the person being bullied or even know them.
Physically, I have weighed about 94 lbs since I was about 16 years old ’til now at 58 – 91 lbs. Always fluctuating a pound or two in either direction depending on if I’ve missed a meal. Before y’all get excited, 10% of the population falls in this category and, call it good karma or God’s gift, I am living in a time period that celebrates thin – ahem, slender – people. It’s genetic and I got the gene. I stand just under 5’3, but inside, where it counts, I am six feet tall and, when I lose my temper, I expect to be taken seriously. I am always astounded when some lout only sees the outside package, a tiny, little woman, who looks like she would snap like twig. Anyone who knows me has begun to laugh (or shudder) in memory of times when they witnessed or were on the receiving end of my temper. I’ve gotten better over the years, but when it comes to bullies, I have a no holds bar policy and a take no prisoners attitude. I will tackle anyone or anything at any time, regardless of the cost. And, frankly, this scares the living daylights out of me. Every time, I think afterwards, shaking from head to foot, “What were you thinking? You could have been hurt or killed! What were you thinking!” Well, I wasn’t thinking. Obviously. But I couldn’t just let it go, right? Right?
Years ago, I was driving to pick up my mother after she finished work and traffic was at a crawl. I glanced over at a car wanting to enter traffic. There were two women and a man inside the car and all three were watching a woman walking away up the street. I glanced from them to the woman, who seemed oblivious. They called out to her, she turned and to my eyes, her questioning look and shake of the head indicated she didn’t know them. She continued walking up the street. The people in the car got highly animated and there was something mean in their faces, something malicious and gleeful. The guy got out of the car and called to the woman, who once again turned around when he called to her. He talked to her for a few moments, she shook her head and turned to go and he caught her by the arm. She looked shocked and backed away from him, his grip tightening. I glanced back at the car and the girls were smiling – nasty smiles.
Traffic began to crawl forward. I had one eye on the traffic and one watching the scene play out. My Mom was waiting at the corner and waved when she saw my car. I pulled into the gas station to let her get in, still watching the interplay. The car had pulled into the gas station and was now in front of me at the gas station. The man was definitely holding the woman against her will. She was yelling and he was laughing. Mom was saying hi, and I said, “Hang on a sec, Mom. Something is going on.” She fell quiet and followed my gaze. I looked around to see if anybody else was noticing this. At least three men working at the gas station were just standing there watching events unfold, kind of laughing themselves. Back to the man still strong-arming the woman, who by now was crying. Satisfied, he let her go and ran lightly back to the car, getting in on the passenger side and gesturing for them to move out into the traffic. Without thinking about it, I drove the car forward and blocked their ability to move forward. My Mom sat very still beside me. I waited for the people in the car to notice I was blocking their exit. I kept my face grim and still, but inside, a small voice wailed, “What are you doing?! It’s three against one. We’re gonna die!” The Tiger exploded inside of me – swelling and growing in righteous wrath. I said, “Keep an eye on the girl, Mom. Is she okay?” Mom said, “Yes. She’s just standing there crying. Uh, Hunt, um…” The driver, one of the females, glanced up to go and stared in shock at my car. She met my eyes and I just looked at her and shook my head. She said something to the other two, who looked up in surprise and I had the brief satisfaction of seeing them stop laughing. All three were shocked into silence and we stared at one another. I looked the guy in the eye and once again, shook my head. “No, you don’t get to do this.” We were at a Mexican stand-off and, while only a few seconds ticked by, it felt like a year while every possible scenario ran across my mind’s screen, none of which looked good for me.
The guy broke first. Quite clearly, he told the female driver to get them the heck out of there – she backed up the car and they hightailed it out of there. Good enough for me. Still outraged and scathing, steaming, I slammed out of the car and yelled at the guys still standing there. “Oh, well done, gentlemen. You chickens**ts!” I moved towards the woman, who was just standing there, all turned in on herself and weeping. “Are you okay? Are you hurt?” Tears still streaming, she shook her head. “Can I give you a lift somewhere? I don’t want to leave you here in case they come back.” She accepted a ride to a bus stop, thanking me, saying she had never seen them before in her life. I made sure she would be okay and Mom and I drove away.
There was silence for a few minutes in the car. Mom said, “Um, Hunt, what just happened there?”
It wasn’t until I got home that the Tiger retreated and I realized what I had done. The adrenaline left and I just sat and shook for the rest of the night.