"I don't want any trouble"

I started taking self-defense lessons. There’s a full-length mirror covering one wall of the training room. In my practicing of defensive moves I look like a marionette operated by a puppeteer who’s being tickled by a spastic giant sitting on a wobbly chair.

Luckily I haven’t punched myself in the head yet. In these early stages,  I’m awkward and the experienced students are graceful; their movements hit the target with accuracy and force. 

In matters of physical coordination I have to remind myself that a long time ago I didn’t know how to tie a necktie and now it’s something I’ve done thousands of times without thinking. If only attackers could be intimidated by the sight of me staring at them unblinking while tying a four-in-hand knot.

It’s been decades since I was this uncomfortable in a learning situation; last time it was piano lessons I was forced to take for a few years. Out of principle, I never played piano after I was allowed to quit. Just as well; I can’t imagine a scenario where there’s a gun to my head and the request is for a Scott Joplin rag in a “sprightly” mode.