Friday, February 12, 2021


 I'm getting along in years now and it isn't uncommon to look back and examine things that might have been done differently. I've never met someone that didn't take a mental stroll back through the years  without wincing here and there. Sometimes I push it out of my head, sometimes I try to learn something from it, and then very, very rarely, I'm gutted with regret. I'm always going to regret not punching that neo-nazi at the Cheese Castle when I had the chance. 

It was 2018 and we were visiting Chicago so Danny could go to a couple Cubs games. We had some extra days, so we drove north, as people from Illinois do, and stopped for lunch at Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha. It started as a cheese shop, but it has gone far beyond that now. I have great memories of the place from childhood when I'd occasionally ride along with my dad when he'd make deliveries. The owner would find out I was sitting in the truck, he'd yell at my dad to bring me in, then he'd make a big fuss over me and ask what I wanted. He knew what I wanted-I only ever wanted to hear the life-sized model cow they had on display "talk." He'd go turn on the recording and while my dad made his delivery, I learned about the history of cheesemaking from a talking cow, I adored that damn cow. I'd usually leave with a container of King of Clubs potted cheese because it is the best stuff in the world. They always sent one home with my dad for me at Christmas. So the point is, I have some strong emotional attachments to the Cheese Castle, and as I was standing by the door waiting for Danny who had been in the toilets for a good long while as IBS doesn't take a holiday even if you do, I spotted the nazi. 

You have to understand, he was standing there in full nazi regalia, without shame. In the 21st Century, in one of the most ethnically German areas of the United States, this asshole is standing there waiting to buy his beer in full view of people that aren't exactly comfortable with talking about the war, decades after. The last thing they need is someone parading about dressed as a nazi. 

Looking back it feels like it took a long time, but I'm sure it was only a couple minutes as I did the actions=consequences maths in my brain. I was carrying an obnoxiously heavy wooden handbag with sharp corners and metal feet that could probably do some real damage to his head whilst I drop kicked him across the floor. I'm five feet tall, and he was big, but I was pretty confident that I would have taken him by surprise and been able to inflict some damage. I knew he'd beat the shit out of me if he could, but I was also confident someone would grab him, and if not, it would be worth it. Assault charges for punching a nazi would be completely worth it. I thought back to the family that owned the place years ago. Would the old man be cool with me punching a nazi in his cheese castle? Absolutely. Would Junior be OK with it? Probably, as long as I didn't make a mess, or god forbid damage the cow. 

I've only thrown one punch in my life, mind you, and she deserved it and I'm still not sorry. I was in fourth grade and new to the school. I had to ride the bus every day with a girl named Barbara that would torment me over my red Hudson Bay blanket coat. "Little Orphan Annie", day after day, after fucking day, until one day I had it with her shit, turned around and swung. I can't remember if I hit her nose or her lip, but there was blood. Not a lot, but enough that she got off the bus wailing and by the time I got home Barbara's mother had rung mine. Mum drove me over to apologise, acknowledging that I really didn't have anything to apologise for, but that etiquette demands that you at least make an insincere apology when you swing hard enough to draw blood. I mean, that's fine, even a ten year old understands society has rules. 

Society has rules. Rules like not wearing fucking nazi crap out in public. You'd only do something like that to get a reaction...and I was reacting. My husband was already outside in the car, which was good because he's thrown less punches than I have. As the nazi made his way through the register, I saw Danny coming toward me and knew I'd lost my chance. I suppose you're reading this and thinking that's all for the best, but it isn't. A couple years later we all saw what these little nazi shits did in Kenosha, and I know punching one of them probably wouldn't have done much to dissuade them, but it would have sent a message that people aren't OK with their crap. I personally would have felt better had I acted on it. Punching Barbara in the face wasn't exactly satisfying at the time, but it did put a quick end to any potential bullying from anyone else and I went on to go through school without any further incidents. It wasn't random violence. I don't make a habit of going about punching people and a once every 45 years or so smack upside someone's head that deserves it seems like a small price to pay, etiquette or not.

I will always regret not punching the nazi at the Cheese Castle, but more, I really hope there comes a time when they won't be so confident that they can display their hate in public. 


Polyester Princess said...

Very recognizable! Although I'm trying to turn a blind eye to the most winceable stuff, sometimes a trip down memory lane goes off on a tangent and I find myself shuddering with embarrassment.
Good on you for punching Barbara, and I'm hearing on your regret not to have punched that nazi sh*t at the Cheese Castle! xxx

Señora Allnut said...

I'm not a violent person, and a physical coward most of the time. But totally understand your regret. It's difficult to contain the rage sometimes and sometimes it doesn't worth it. You've really enthralled me with your plan to use the surprise and your heavy bag (wow, I've had this kind of thoughts myself!)
Actually, I'm in favour of punching any bully, even if adults tell children not to do it. So well done on punching Barbara.

Emily said...

You had such fond memories of the Cheese Castle that it hurts me to think that some guy ruined the sanctity of your "happy place" that day.

Whenever I watch "The Sound of Music," I feel like Liesl should've punched Rolf for alerting the Nazis to her family's hiding place in the dimly lit cemetery at the convent. And I sometimes wondered, if she happened to run into him twenty or thirty years later, would she have had the pleasure of punching him then? Or would he have grown old enough and wise enough to see the error of his Nazi youth?

bahnwärterin said...

if i would carry such a handbag - i would be very tempted too.....
but the bad thing is: they are to many here. the german justice was totally blind on the right eye for a very long time and the "normal" people are on the side of the nazis if asked. at least outside of the big cities.
in the last few years the bombed a house of a lokal politician and killed another in his garden and last year one single nazi tried to get into the synagoge of halle during a ceremony - he had several guns but the oak door did withstand so he killed to bypassers....... not to mention the burned cars of activists for a united europe or the killed immigrants.
in the army barracks nazi shrines were found and police officers are engaged in nazi chats.

well done punching barbara - some people do not understand an other language.
stay sane and safe! xxxxx

Beth Waltz said...

My mama would also have insisted on the courtesy call; it's doubtful my papa would have bothered. Mama believed people treated you as you treated them; Papa knew they would do whatever they thought they could get away with.

When I was wee, our Cheese Castle was an amusement park that offered pony rides and boats in a pond. It had a skating rink for teens, an ancient wooden structure sited near the gates. The times they were a'changin -- and gangs of thugs had begun lurking there to make vulgar remarks and gestures to the mamas. I have a vivid memory of Papa pushing us aside, then picking up a thug by his collar and pants and hurling him into the wall of the skating rink. THUMP.

Another daddy stepped up, remarked that Papa must be a sailor (he was a Merchant Marine) 'cause he "threw men, not punches," and stood there grinning while he "made his selection." The way to the exit was soon cleared as other war-veteran daddies arrived. We kids were astounded that a) our daddies could fight and b) our mommies did not object to the violence.

As you point out, Goody, sometimes people who deliberately set out to occupy others' spaces deserve a smack upside the head. Looking back, I realize that that was the beginning of the end for that park, that neighborhood, that section of the city. Wish I'd kicked a foul-mouthed thug while I could still run...

Anonymous said...

Once every so often I have a trip down memory lane. I am usually trying to sort out the source of my uneasy feelings and thoughts. Between winter and Covid there is a lot of time to think.

It certainly would be satisfying to whack that Neo Nazis at Cheese Castle with a great big hard vintage handbag. My husband and I had to restrain our selves from confronting the MAGA circus like rally held every Sunday at the round-about , in our little town , before the election. I was never one to pay that much attention to war history but our local Public TV has had very enlightening and distrubing documentaries on the rise of the Nazis and aftermath.
The capitol riot only reinforced in my mind how fragile empathy, peace and stability are. You did more good with your volunteering at the polls than you would have making a scene at Cheese Castle.

But keep on carryng those hand bags. Gail From, Pa.

ThriftyParka said...

Oh Goody, it's hard to restrain those impulses, isn't it? It's probably better that you didn't punch that misguided obnoxious fellow. You might have damaged your beautiful handbag! Rest assured that he likely got stranded on a dark highway with no help in sight. Hopefully he also reflects on his actions and learns from them.

Self-reflection is good. Please don't be harsh on yourself. I'm a longtime reader of yours, and I think you are one of the good ones.

Sending happy thoughts of pretty dresses your way!

Vronni's Style Meanderings said...

Punching Barbara was the right and only thing to do. My grandson had an incident with a so called friend of his who put his hands in grandson's pocket and took out his money. Grandson, the least violent child I've ever known, socked him one. I believe this child had been bullying grandson (he wouldn't tell us) prior to this; and that put an end to it.

I find it hard believe anyone could be so brazen about their fascist views but although you might regret not attacking him with your handbag I sincerely hope someone has given him what he deserved!

Goody said...

I regret 100% of the nazis I haven't punched.
I tried googling Barbara and she has zero internet presence which is very strange. I don't regret punching her though.

@Senora Allnut
I'm all in favour of using the tools at your disposal-be it a bag, a cane, or a stick-pin. By the time a woman has to reach into her bag for something like pepper spray, it is likely too late-better to just use the bag.

Whenever I see the little nazi fucks or their white supremacist wannabes, I'm tempted to yell after them, "You'll never be one of THEM Rolf" but I've never done it.

It is so surprising because Germany had strong laws in place to try and prevent them from ever gaining another following. I know you can't wipe out 2000 years of learned hatred by eliminating one dangerous group willing to act on their hate, but it is disappointing.

I've probably watched too many movies but I'm getting an image of Marlon Brando in The Wild One getting his ass kicked by your dad.

Ugh, I'm sorry you had Maga idiots doing their thing in your town. I don't like confrontation generally but...yeah, it is hard to just keep walking sometimes.

@Thrifty Parka
Thank you. I suppose it is best that I didn't give myself a criminal record over someone like that but I also have little hope he's become a better person. People like that seem to be almost un-teachable no matter what sort of karma the universe throws at them.

Bibi Maizoon said...

When my dad was diagnosed with cancer he decided to sell his entire gun and ammo making collection. We went to a few big gun shows to sell his rare and antique pieces. I was shocked at the Boise, Idaho show at the number of assholes walking around in full Nazi regalia. Needless to say we left in disgust after about 2hours and began the long drive back to Oregon where my parents then lived. That was in the early 90s, I can’t imagine what it’s like there now.

Goody said...

I've never been to a gun show, or Idaho (that I can remember) but that sounds consistent with stories I've heard from other people.

Mim said...

Yeah, it's never a bad thing to punch that sort. A lot of bad elements got their hooks into parts of the gaming community a decade or so ago, and as a result there can be some real arses about. If there's one thing the gaming community can pass on to others, it's not to go soft on that nonsense. Stamp it out fast.

We have a fair bit of WWII/military recreation going on round here, and even reenactors doing the Axis powers make me a little uneasy. But to be dressed in that stuff normally... that's utterly twisted. My grandfather helped at Belsen after the British liberated it - he was an army pathologist. I grew up knowing what that poisonous ideology led to.