This all happened in four seconds.

The club is very crowded, very loud. The three of us are trying to leave to find our other friends outside. Navigating through a sea of people is hard enough, made even more difficult by the fact they are all dancing.

A girl gyrates in front of me, blocking me, and I lose my grip on Jess’s hand as she moves forward through the crowd. I glance back to see that Andy is still in tow.

Jess isn’t ahead of me by much, only a few feet. But it is enough space for the sharks to get the scent.


A pretty girl by herself.

Ripe for the plucking, one guy thinks.

He gets up on her. In front of her and on top of her at the same time. Blocking her, kind of. Looking down upon her, from above, like she is this piece of meat that he is about to dominate. And he seems confident that she is going to like it.

This is the moment when I can actually feel the effects of evolution, and I understand why we, as humans, survived. All it takes is seeing someone we love in danger and suddenly ten thousand things within our bodies are turned on, all at the same time, all for the purpose of protecting that thing which we love. And while all of those switches are turned on, the one that is turned off is the one that has been running our entire lives and never turned off — the one that tells us to protect our own bodies and to stay away from harm.

The blood is rushing to my brain. Gushing, shooting, flowing.

Perhaps it isn’t new blood being transported there. Maybe it is the blood that was already there, merely ignited into liquid magma upon seeing what I saw — someone looking down upon the woman I love with such blindness to everything that makes her beautiful besides just her physical beauty.

It isn’t a possession thing. It’s not a need to protect my girl, to ward off competitors.

She’s not mine.

She is me.

Fight, my body tells me, conveniently leaving out the flight option. It doesn’t wait for my brain to catch up. I look down and watch as my hands push aside the gyrating girl who caused me to lose my grip on my girlfriend’s hand.

As I get around the human roadblock, I see the scumbag’s hand reaching around Jess’s body, as comfortably and authoritatively as if he was putting his hand into his own pocket.

She escapes him though, the way a child at recess might escape the desperate, outstretched hand of whoever is “It” in a game of tag. And she gives him this look — God, I love her for it — that says, simply: “Not happening, dude.”

As I finally reach him two seconds later, I push him with my left hand. As I push him, I can feel the sheer power of his right arm, approximately the size of one of my thighs. He is also amongst a group of six or seven equally large men. This is a fight that I am going to lose (and lose badly) and it is funny how little I care.

Because it’s Jess, you know?

He raises his massive arms. Not to fight, but in an unapologetic shoulder shrug, that was as much of an apology as a shithead like him can muster.

It is the look that Jess gave him two seconds ago that probably saved my life. Because I saw how strong she is, how easily she can take care of herself. She had escaped the danger; she was never in danger. I’m still on autopilot-rage mode, but the look she gave him started the process of slowing me down enough to start the brakes and get my brain back to higher-functioning.

I walk on, but keep my head turned, watching him.

I’m not afraid that he is coming for me. Instead, I want to take a mental snapshot of him so that I can update my mental image dictionary, to include this motherfucker’s face next to the words “hatred,” “enemy,” “masoginist,” and lastly, “douchebag.”

He is turned the other way, though. Already moved on to the next thing. The next option.

But I see Andy. Like me, he’s standing there, turned around, also watching. He saw what happened and he’s standing erect, ready to fight, if need be.

Even though there are six of them and two of us.

I take a mental snapshot of my friend and mark it in my mental image dictionary next to “friendship,” “brave,” and “thankful.” I grab his shoulder and tell him to follow: It’s cool.

And I turn forward, looking for Jess. She’s standing there, arm outstretched. Towards me. This is how I will see her for weeks to come when I close my eyes.

I take her hand, become reoriented with love, and never want to let it go for four seconds again.

Love, as well as her hand.

-Youngman Brown

24 thoughts on “Four Seconds

  1. This was poignant and beautiful, and yet, at the same time, the reason why I never go to the club. My wife is (without bragging) the smoking hot girl with amazing fashion sense (she's the only woman I've ever been with who always gets complimented on her clothes/shoes by other guys), she's young, and she's got this wild purple hair. If I leave her for those four seconds, it's the same as with Jess, the douches flock to her. And while she can totally handle herself, it still pisses me off how grabby they can get and it's just something I'd rather avoid altogether than having to knock someone out.

    As a boxer, I can handle myself. But as an adult, I don't want to get arrested for being the winner.

  2. I'm with aBftS. I can't go to the club anymore because of animalistic assholes like this. Though, my girlfriend can hold her own as well. Luckily, the very few times we've been to a club (usually a bar/club) we've never ran into problems.

    I may not be the best fighter in the world, but I'd definitely go down swinging in a case like this.

    Anyway, you're an incredible storyteller, Youngman, and I respect your fearless attitude in this case! There is no better act in life than giving your life up to your partner (which I hope a situation would never escalate that far). Awesome post!

  3. Ah, you are really back 🙂 I loved this so much for so many reasons. Fantastic writing, for sure. The words and the ideas…all perfect. I really liked the 'snapshots' at the end. But I also loved it for the emotion and depth. This was my favorite line, “someone looking down upon the woman I love with such blindness to everything that makes her beautiful besides just her physical beauty.”

    This whole post was such a wonderful love letter to your girly 🙂

  4. wow, that was amazing! really grabbed my attention, I think I knew she would be alright, we have that look down! I don't go to clubs that often anymore rather some quiet pubs.

  5. I can totally see Andy in the cab ride home when everything has already settled. “Dude, should we fight that guy? I'm totally down, now”

  6. I'm glad you're back… I missed your posts. A lot.

    I liked this post. Thanks for protecting your girl. Not that she needed it but sometimes it's nice just to feel protected. This is why I've always refused to go to clubs. I am not a piece of meat. And even though I am not particularly attractive to that crowd, even I have been a piece of meat in a club. Ew.

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