The Slap Heard ‘Round the World

*Warning. There will be bad language.

It is already old news, and we have once again found a way to be divided on the topic. You have probably already witnessed video of the Will Smith slapping the shit out of Chris Rock incident. Lots of people are saying Chris had it coming, and other people are saying Will needed to check himself.

So, I watched the video slowed down and zoomed in, like the Zapruder footage. Chris’s head goes back and to the left…back and to the left…

But earlier, when Chris delivers the joke, guess what else you see? No, not a man on a grassy knoll. You see Will laughing. Jada isn’t laughing. She throws the look. Chris Rock no doubt also saw Will laughing, which was why he didn’t flinch when Will came up on stage. Then “POW!” then a lot of shit talking.

Here’s the thing.

There was a time I was in Will’s position. I recognized what he is going through and I honestly wish I was his friend, so I could call him and say, “Meet me for coffee. We need to talk.”

Back when I was married, there were many occurrences where my ex-wife would take offense at something and expect me to be her executioner, her enforcer. There was no knight in shining armor. She wanted a thug who would exact swift and brutal retaliation on her behalf. I knew if I didn’t, things would be HELL for me when we got home.

One instance of this was when we were at Sam’s Club getting groceries at the beginning of the month. She would always make a fuss about having to show her membership card on the way in, and as she was arguing with the man at the front door, the kids and I slipped in and grabbed a cart. As we are walking past the TVs and other stuff at the front, I hear a commotion behind me. My ex-wife is saying something to a woman who is walking parallel with her. She has her face all pinched and twisted up the way she would whenever she was starting a fight.

“Do we have a problem?” the woman asks.

“Yeah! You clipped my heel with your cart, you fucking cunt!” she says.

“Wow! I wasn’t even near you. I saw you trip.”

“Fuck you! You hit me!”

My wife turned to me with the look.

Do something about this, you fucking pussy!

Before I had a chance to react, the accused woman turns to me and says, “Are you her husband? I feel very sorry for you.”

“Me too.”

I shrugged. Like a Larry David Curb Your Enthusiasm shrug.

My ex-wife’s rancor turned completely onto me. It wasn’t my fight. It was a stupid fight, which didn’t need to escalate. It was a fight she had started many times before with strangers. I shrugged because this lady whom I had never met before looked into my eyes and she knew what was expected of me by a completely unreasonable person. She was correct to pity me.

I caught hell when we got home.

“What kind of man are you?” my ex-wife demanded. “You can’t even defend your wife? That bitch assaulted me! And you stood there with your limp dick in your hand and did nothing!”

“What did you want me to do? Punch her in the face?” I said. “You’re lucky she didn’t have you kicked out of the store. Or arrested.”

“She wasn’t going to do anything,” she said.

Exactly.

So when I see Will Smith stride up to strike another man on behalf of his wife, that isn’t defending her honor. That is a conditioned response to abuse at home.

It was a bald joke, not a demand for satisfaction and pistols at twenty paces.

You see, it was Will’s night, and with one look from Jada, he shit on his own night, which should have been about getting his first Academy Award, rather than becoming a meme. Jada made it about HER. The alternative for Will at home would have been much worse than what happened had he done nothing.

I wish I could see a moment where Chris Rock takes him out for beers and gives him a hug and says “No, man. I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry, Will Smith.