Brawling in Rio de Janeiro

A news story of animal abuse dredged up this bit of history. Our Doberman, Jeff, did admittedly bark at the occasional passerby, standing up at the metal gate to do this, but he was particularly emphatic whenever a certain neighbor walked past. And one day Tonia came up to tell me she had seen the man hold up a can of some chemical and spray it into Jeff’s eyes. I ran downstairs and found him whimpering and pawing at his eyes. After I washed them out with water, he seemed much better, and I girded myself for war.

This elderly, white-haired man was not Brazilian and I had heard him speaking German to a companion. In my rage, I willingly leapt to the conclusion that he was an escaped Nazi, perhaps even that despicable Mengele who had been reported to be hiding in South America. In any case, I went over to his house and pounded on his gate. When he came and opened it I launched into a tirade of English mixed with Portuguese and my most powerful Italian epithets while he kept saying Get out of my yard Get out of my yard.

Instead, I advanced with my fists clenched and he advanced toward me. I did not care that he was three times my size. Fury made me reckless. Had not another man come out of the house and stepped between us we might have fought. I knew exactly where I would kick him. Difference in size doesn’t matter then.

I marched back home and when Renato returned from work I told him all about it. Renato said Hmmmm. Next day he reported that he had sent a delegation — he did not specify who it was made up of — to the man’s house. Apparently that impressed him, for he took a wide berth around our house after that.

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