Maybe it's smartest just to stay at home

July 15, 2006|By GREGORY KANE

So now I'll have to scratch bowling off my list of recreational activities, thanks to the nasty thug who stabbed Baltimore Ravens linebacker Roderick Green last weekend.

Green was treated at Sinai Hospital and should recover fully from his wound. He showed the better part of valor when he ran from his assailant and escaped further injury, according to a Sun article, by managing to "outdistance his assailant." There's much to be said for having 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash.

In fact, Green's putting distance between himself and his attacker was not only smart but downright honorable. Assuming his physical skill as a football player would have allowed him to easily subdue his assailant, what would that have gained him? The guy clearly had associates who could have jumped Green.

I had a brother who died of a stab wound he received during a street fight. I've been kicking myself ever since it happened: Did I or did I not teach my kid brother that when you're in a street fight and someone pulls out a weapon, the honorable option is to run? Had my brother done what Green did, he'd probably be alive today.

But it's as much where Green was attacked as why he was attacked that's disturbing. It's disconcerting to think that some folks' sense of self-worth is so distorted that they'll not only stab someone who bumps into them, but someone who bumps into one of their buddies. It's quite disturbing when it happens in a bowling alley you used to frequent.

It's been a long time since I've bowled at AMF Kings Point Lanes in Randallstown in what I thought was an attempt at getting in a minimal amount of exercise. These days, I confine my exercise to one hour per night on a treadmill in my home - and that only because I've grudgingly conceded that exercise helps control my diabetes.

It's not likely I'll be bowling again. Not at AMF Kings Point Lanes or anywhere else. People today are just too ornery. True, such people are a tiny minority of us, who, at best, could be described as unredeemable fools. But it's frightening the impact a tiny minority of fools can have on a society. It is because of such folks that someone came up with the cogent expression "nothing is foolproof, because fools are so ingenious."

If it's not the fools, then it's the mentally ill who refuse to get treatment. I still shudder when I think of what happened to Paul Schrum last month.

Schrum was the 62-year-old Pikesville man who was fatally shot at the Loews Valley Center 9 in mid-June. He took in a weeknight show of X-Men: The Last Stand, which had been out for several weeks. In a show with just a handful of patrons, a man stood up and shot Schrum several times. Then, according to Baltimore County police, he went to the lobby, told theater workers he had just shot someone, and placed his weapon on a counter.

Mujtaba Rabbani Jabbar has been charged with the crime. In several news stories, in print and broadcast media, members of Jabbar's family said he had shown signs of mental illness.

I didn't know Schrum, but for some reason his killing especially struck home with me. Perhaps it's because of our similarities. We both graduated from City College in the 1960s. We both went to Loews Valley Center 9 to watch movies. Apparently, we both had a fondness for science-fiction film fare. Schrum apparently preferred to wait a few weeks after a new movie's release to see it on a weeknight, after the crowds had died down.

That's been my practice for at least the last four years. I prefer Wednesday nights, about three weeks after a film's release, and I take in the last show of the night. Few people in the theater. Those annoying pests who like to receive calls on their cell phones and talk while the picture is showing are absent.

There have been times when I've been the only person at a show. It occurred to me that a good writer of horror and fantasy fiction - which I'm not - could do things with a story about a person watching a movie alone in a theater that seats several hundred. (My imagination tends to run away with me in situations like this, much as it did when I worked part time as a security guard at the Maryland Science Center and was in the building alone.)

Lately, I've been thinking twice about my movie-going habits. Maybe I should switch to going on opening weekends, with the huge crowds and the annoying cell phone users and the noisy tykes. That's a setting the chronically mentally ill might avoid. But then what do I do about the knife-wielders and gun-toters who can't take a little jostling in a crowd?

My recreation of late has been staying indoors and reading depressing nonfiction. Compared with what's happening outside my house, that depressing nonfiction seems downright uplifting.

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