My wife and me went to Rome this past weekend with her parents. During dinner one night, I thought I was going to have to use my chubby fists to protect a mime. Here is my story.
It’d been a long but eventful day in Rome for us. After a tour of the Colosseum and the surrounding ruins, pictures at the Trevi fountain and a lap around the Pantheon we were ready to call it a day and decided to grab a bite to eat at a small restaurant on the border of a crowded piazza.
I cursed myself for the extra helping of gelato (Italian ice cream that’s way better than ice cream) I’d had before we got on the metro as the sugar spike coupled with all the walking was taking its toll. I made a note to myself about the appropriateness of breakfast, lunch and pre-dinner gelato though knew I had little control over the sweet treat’s intoxicating presence. I was fading fast and the carbohydrate rich meal I was about to consume wasn’t going to help matters. I needed a pick me up and needed it fast.
As the sun dipped down below the horizon and a cool breeze began to blow, I knew I was in trouble. My wife glanced over at me and rolled her eyes as she put two and two together. She’d warned me about slipping into food comas, but I hadn’t heeded her warnings. Instead of conversing with she and my in-laws, I was fighting the Sandman.
I thought about ordering a coffee but before I could motion to the waitress, a beacon of hope shone through the crowd. I followed the sound of laughter to a circle of people that had begun to form in the piazza. In their midst; a mime.
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with mimes as it’s always been hard for me to trust them but at the same time I envy their lifestyle. Once they apply that white face paint they can more or less do anything they want outside of physical assault and other criminal activities. Being that I was perfectly suited to be a mime yet unaware of how to become one made me bitter and jealous. That mentality changed, however after that evening.
I’m not one to mince words so I’ll get straight to the point; this mime was freaking hilarious. He wasn’t the standard mime as he didn’t do the usual trapped in a box routine nor did he look like an “emo” kid that pushed the whole “i want to look like a vampire” thing to extreme levels. This mime was more like a clown that didn’t talk or laugh obnoxiously yet still ran around the area like a crazy person. Yet, he was not crazy but calculated in how he mocked the people passing by. He took risks, graduating from standard impressions to literally picking a small child up and away from his parents then handing them off to a complete stranger. While not everyone appreciated his brand of humor, most were good sports about it and if they weren’t they just walked away. That is until a man with arguably the smallest penis in all of Italy happened to walk by.
Being in Europe for the past year has made it obvious that America is not the only country to produce assholes. That being said, the European brand of assholes aren’t quite to the level of those found in the states since we tend to be a bit more aggressive in general. This man, however would have fit in very well amongst the “two drink, fight time” crowd that frequents dive bars and college campuses. His face was set in the sort of grimace one usually sees in elderly people fighting a case of constipation and he sucked on a cigarette in much the same way that a child sucks on a pacifier. While I’d like to think he was just having a bad day, what transpired next made is clear everyday was a bad day for this guy.
Because of the fact that this gentleman look cartoonish in appearance and was filling the piazza with anger clouds, the mime targeted him with an act that turned out to be his riskiest move of the night (don’t forget, he’d literally pulled a young child away from his parents a mere 15 minutes before). Not thinking much of it, the mime walked cloesly behind the man, imitating the way he french kissed his ciagarette for the entire time it took the man to cross the piazza. The man was completely unaware of this until he heard laughter and turned around to see the mime scampering off. Instead of shrugging his shoulders, he stood in the gathering crowds and glared at the mime for an uncomfortably long time. He eventually walked away, but that would not be his last appearance that evening.
In my mind, I imagine that the angry man walked away, growing increasingly upset at the thought of being ridiculed by a stranger. Obviously, he would fail to see that a mime’s only job is to ridicule strangers, and take the mockery as a personal attack on him. He couldn’t let that crowd of people who would never see him again think he was a coward. If they did remember him (which was unlikely since he was a part of the least humorous part of the performance), they’d see him as a weakling and might even contact his close friends/relatives to relay those sentiments. There was only one way to redeem himself and that was to go back, confront the mime and then beat him up to prove a point.
We continued watching the mime, and I’d almost forgot about the angry man. The mime had just snuck up behind a large crowd of Chinese tourists and scared them enough to make them scream, which got a huge reaction from the crowd. Content with his act, the mime was oblivious to the fact that the angry man had re-entered the piazza and was circling him like a shark that smelled blood. I, however was not unaware of what was happening because for a brief period in my life, I was the angry man.
At that point, I felt like Hanibal Lector analyzing Buffalo Bill as I watched every move the angry man made and waited for the finale that would ruin everyone’s fun. The thing is, people like that don’t really care about how anyone sees them as long as they appear strong. There is a disconnect with reality, however as the quest for this perceived strength tends to make them look even worse. Even though a truly strong person would have never gotten upset in the first place, these people fail to see that until it’s too late. Think knights and chivalry but instead of fighting for the honor of a woman they fight to hide their own insecurity (which tends to be connected to penis size).
I was scared for the mime as I didn’t know how the situation would turn out. Even if he was a great fighter, a mime has to maintain an innocent appearance as a threatening mime is an unsuccessful mime. When the man finally got in the mime’s face, I could see the shock and then fear that suddenly overtook the gleeful trickster from before. The mime walked away, but the man was still following him which eventually resulted in the mime being forced to break the ultimate mime rule; he spoke.
Obviously, this situation was getting out of hand as mimes never talk. I imagined he was smart enough to try and negotiate his way out of the situation as opposed to continuing with his show (though it would have been really bold and super hilarious if he’d honked the squeaky banana toy in the angry man’s face). The angry man, however wouldn’t hear any of it and got closer and closer to the mime. I could tell a fight was about to happen and for a brief moment, I thought I’d have to jump into action.
Being that I’d fought a couple amateur MMA matches as well as teaching kickboxing for a bit, I was quite confident in my ability to defend myself and others should the moment arise. Unfortunately, there were numerous factors that made the defense of the mime a risky endeavor in and of itself. First, I was with my wife and my in-laws Despite the fact that they appreciate justice as much as anyone, my brand of justice is hard for them to understand as it was birthed from comic books and buddy cop films. Secondly, I was in a foreign country and had no idea how Italian police officers would react to a chubby American punching one of their country men regardless of what started the conflict. Perhaps they hated mimes and saw the angry man’s confrontation being a necessary thing. The last factor was the most important though as I’d eaten way too much pizza and pasta that day and knew that at best, I’d be much slower than usual and at worst, I’d poop my pants as soon as I tried anything.
I looked over at my wife and for a moment, I thought she mouthed, “you’re that mime’s only hope”. She was actually more than likely mouthing, “you better not get in a fight defending a mime”. Still, I couldn’t just let the mime get beaten up. He was hilarious and gave us some of the best entertainment we’d had that day. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but fortunately for me that mime had friends in higher places.
Before the situation could get any more out of hand, a group of large men walked into the scene out of nowhere. I wasn’t sure who they are and feared they were friends of the angry man. Had he gone back and gotten a group of his buddies together to kick the crap out of the mime? That was not the case, however as the group of men happened to be the physically intimidating bouncers from a number of the restaurants surrounding the area.
While I’m sure their first goal was to prevent a fight from happening, thus affecting business, we’d soon find out from our waitress that the mime was always around and everyone loved him. He was their mime and they weren’t going to let anything happen to him no matter what the cost was to themselves. It took the angry man a second to realize that the odds were against him, but he eventually stood down and walked away like a wounded little puppy.
It was like a scene out of a movie and I imagined the bouncers had said something along the lines of, “You hurt the mime, we hurt you”. The crowd who’d been watching the scene unfold cheered and I pumped my fist, knowing that justice had been served and pleased that I didn’t have to be the one serving it.
I learned a bit about the world that day, a fact that makes it a little easier to not be a cynical jerk all the time. The world is filled with mimes and assholes; the mimes want to make the world smile and the assholes want to make themselves look tough. Fortunately, people tend to enjoy the company of a mime as opposed to the company of a filthy little asshole.