looking back, michael jordan and his international appeal may have indirectly saved me a few bumps and bruises. or stab wounds. i read this report from a local paper recently:

A gang of youths attacked two men with a metal bar in separate attacks.

At 8.50pm on Saturday, 12 youths approached a man of 22 who was walking across Christ’s Pieces in Cambridge. They hit him over the head without warning and he suffered minor injuries.

The gang, all aged about 16, lashed out again at 9.30pm. Their second victim was a man of 23 walking across Christ’s Pieces with his girlfriend.

He was also left with minor head injuries.

The gang were wearing hooded jackets, jeans and baseball caps.

it reminded me of an experience i had early last year. i was going home from city centre around 9 pm. same area as the above incident. i was walking across Christ’s Pieces near the bus terminal. it’s one of the large, green lawns or parks in the city, named after the adjacent Christ’s college. it was dark, but there were street lamps and a handful of people around. it’s not a foreboding place at all. actually, it feels very safe, with a street and townhouses along one side and very open. as i approached the park area, i had a choice of footpaths to take in order to cross. i noticed that a group of loud guys(about 8) were walking down one, towards me. i could have taken another path, but i’m kind of stubborn and don’t get intimidated easily, plus i thought, “just boys being boys”. on i walked. they were taking up most of the width of the path, so i hugged the edge to pass them and as we approached each other, one punk threw his shoulder out at me. i tried to avoid it, but he caught my shoulder and knocked me a little off balance. he then started cursing and calling me names and challenging me to fight. it’s amazing how brave a pansy british guy can get when he has a half dozen of his delinquent friends around. up close, i could see that most were only 15-16 years old. i stayed cool and told them that i didn’t want any trouble and was just on my way home as he continued to hurl profanities. then, the youngest looking kid, i mean he looked 13 or 14, pulled out one of those scissor-blade knives and started waving it at me. at that point, i could say i was concerned. suddenly, one guy realized that i was an american and, to my surprise, started asking where in the states i was from and if i knew michael jordan. his accent was so thick, i had trouble understanding him. they all spoke with this white-trash-like english accent. anyway, this cut the tension, though the other guy was keeping up his macho i-wanna-fight act. bizarrely, the air jordan fan even asked me if i had his autograph to give to him, as if i walk around with mj’s signature in my wallet. the rest is kind of a blur. i smiled a lot like i understood what they were saying, and just kept slowly backing away, eventually getting out of there. as i looked back on the situation, i used to think that maybe i was blowing it out of proportion and they were just drunk or high and weren’t really going to do anything. now, that news report makes me wonder…..

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