Step On That Chick And I’ll Smash Your Head

This Monday it hit 88 degrees here in New England, unseasonably warm for April. I took my two girls to Horseneck Beach in Westport to chill on the sand, listen to the waves, and soak up some sun.

To our surprise, the parking lot was packed. And because it is so early in the season the facilities were still closed, which meant no parking fee, no bathrooms, and no lifeguards.


We walked down the path the beach and were confronted with a large roped off area blocking the beach. To get to the water we needed to walk about one hundred yards to either side.

Curious as I am, I checked the small sign hanging from the rope. The area was a tern habitat, reserved to protect a nesting and breeding area. Being a big nature lover I wasn’t inconvenienced by the walk down the beach to find a spot where we could spread our blanket and hang out.


After a while of talking and playing a word game we enjoy, I noticed a woman duck the rope and walk right through the middle of the habitat. I think I have an overactive sense of justice, maybe that’s why I write crime novels. Anyway, I was really annoyed that hundreds of people walked around this rope and this woman thought she was entitled to walk right down the middle. Soon after another and another went, following her example.

For a while I thought that maybe it was too early for the birds to be nesting, but it has been a really warm winter and spring and who is to tell what timetable the birds are on. She didn’t look like a naturalist to me.

Needless to say, I’m not a fan of people who think the rules don’t apply to them. I wondered if other people were thinking similarly, chiding her silently but not saying anything because they didn’t want to seem too uptight.

This morning I’m thinking about rules and polite society in general and something interesting hit me. The rules of our society are put in place to protect people like her. This was a small, middle-aged woman. The rule she broke didn’t protect her, but imagine a time when people did whatever they wanted… Like cavemen.


Yesterday I took my daughter out for ice cream. We waited for half an hour in line behind a lot of mothers who looked a whole lot like that lady. So if there were no rules, I’m the first guy in line. I’m by far the biggest person around. I could have pushed my way to the front, ordered my ice cream and been gone in two minutes.

But I didn’t. Who’d do that?

So my question is… How do you feel when you see people breaking the rules?

Do you get annoyed? Or are you the one parking in the fire lane at the mall?


22 Comments on “Step On That Chick And I’ll Smash Your Head”

  1. heatherdaygilbert says:

    Hee. Great post here. In college, I liked to bend/break the rules (Christian university), but once I had my own kids, I realized why those rules were there. To protect us (and others! and birds!). It helps that my husband is the most upright, law-abiding citizen I’ve ever met. So his good habits have worn off on me some!

  2. neicia says:

    I get annoyed.

  3. When I see something like that? Someone so blatantly disregarding rules that are set up to protect those who can’t protect themselves? I break the rules of etiquette and point out the obvious: “There’s a sign there for a reason.” or “They have that area blocked off for a reason.” I’m not rude about it. Now, when my kids are the ones that get affected? Duck and cover. Same for any small child that’s getting pushed to the side either figuratively or literally. I’m one of the kindest and most giving people you can ever meet, and it infuriates me when other people labor under the delusion that the rules don’t apply to them.

  4. Lil Gluckstern says:

    I am courteous and nice to people. But in this instance, I turn into old woman who does not mind her own business. I probably would have said something, because I feel that the smaller of our planet mates deserve to be protected. BTW, I just read The End of Marking Time, and found it utterly compelling, and chilling. It was reminiscent of “A Clockwork Orange,” and I found it chilling. Nice work.

  5. Tammy says:

    You want to know what my first thought was? You go right ahead and try to cut in front of a bunch of Mothers waiting to buy ice cream for their children. Your size would not matter…’d be put in your place in a heartbeat! lol

    But seriously, much to the embarassment of my children, I probably would have made a scene at the beach and called the woman out on her ignorance. It’s funny, in this case, my kids may have jumped up before I did!

    • cjwestkills says:


      You’re not getting what I meant by the line at the ice cream store. Imagine a time when men used their muscle to get what they wanted and had no qualms about punching a woman. My point was that ten women in a line at the ice cream store are no match for me. Sorry, they can whine all they want. If I wanted badly enough to be first, and brute strength was all that mattered, I would be first. End of story.

      That’s why it is so important for us to maintain order. Because the smaller among us would always be last otherwise.

      This isn’t to say that I’m the type of guy that would ever do something like that. Of course I wouldn’t.

      • Tammy says:

        I think you seriously underestimate the strength of 10 Mom’s CJ, or you think very highly of yourself?! 😉

      • cjwestkills says:

        Try thinking about this in terms of lions. The females get out of the way and let the males eat first even though they were the ones that caught the prey animal. Why? Because the males are bigger and stronger and they want to eat first.

        I think you truly underestimate the strength of men. You underestimate them because when they are around you they are well behaved. If you hit a man (men I know anyway) they don’t hit back. Most men are constrained by the rules of polite society and that is a very good thing. This is why we are so outraged when a man punches a woman. It’s not right.

        Try thinking like a lioness. Imagine there are no rules. Which woman in that ice cream line is going to take the first punch from a man who is 8 inches taller and 100 pounds heavier? Over an ice cream? I think not.

  6. Tammy says:

    I’m sorry CJ, I thought I was free to respond with my own thoughts. But clearly you had a statement to make and were just looking for us to validate it?

    • cjwestkills says:

      I didn’t mean to stomp on your thoughts. I didn’t think you understood what I meant. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think any large man fears a group of women unless they have been hitting the gym pretty hard.

      • Tammy says:

        Stomp away…..I have no problem defending my thoughts. I understood clearly what you said, I just think otherwise. If you were talking about a man and woman one on one? Different story. But you clearly stated that 10 women in line were no match for you. And then you said I should think like a lioness. Which woman are you (of course not you, you are MUCH more of a gentleman than that as you keep reminding us) going to punch first, because I can tell you before you can recoil, you will be surprised by how quickly the rest of the “pack” serves justice.

        I agree with you in one respect….society’s rules are made to maintain order and protect the weaker from the brutes. But I also feel that unless you are willing to speak up when you see an injustice being done, “society’s rules” are pretty worthless, don’t you think?

      • cjwestkills says:

        I’m surprised to hear you say that the other nine would attack. I’d expect them to run. I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong before.

        I agree with you wholeheartedly that when the rules aren’t enforced, order begins to decay. But I have seen over and over that rules and laws only seem to apply to those you could usually trust anyway. Some people feel immune for whatever reason.

    • Tammy says:

      Here you thought I was underestimating the strength of men…..when I think really, you were underestimating the strength of a pack of angry women.

      And as far as the rules only applying to those who can be trusted, I feel that is why us rule followers need to be more vocal and call them out on it. Maybe a little embarrassment will make them think twice next time?

      • cjwestkills says:

        So absolutely true about US being vocal.

        I have the feeling that in small towns where everyone knows your business, the community does a lot of self-policing. I think if more of this happened everywhere, we’d be in a lot better shape.

        I’m going to go out and run now in case I’m chased by a pack of angry women…

      • Tammy says:

        You just stay in line where you belong CJ, you won’t have to worry about that pack of angry women! 😉

  7. heatherdaygilbert says:

    Interesting discussion. I used to love shows like Xena and La Femme Nikita, until I realized how completely far-fetched it is for women to easily punch men’s lights out. Not to say that women can’t be tough and well-trained fighters (I took some judo and karate myself), but just that in a brute force, hand-to-hand battle, men will probably win (this is why female boxers don’t box men).

    Although moms protecting their children are propelled by more ADRENALINE, and therefore could get a definite advantage in terms of sheer determination to do whatever it takes to stop someone (say, gouge eyes out or bite ears off, whatever).

    All this to say that I see where both Tammy and CJ are coming from here.

    • cjwestkills says:

      I agree Heather. That is why it is so important for men to treat women considerately. It also makes it really hard to write a realistic heroine. I hate to write a heroic character who needs help from a man in a brawl.

      • Running from Hell with El says:

        Hehe–the heroine in my novel takes her evil husband out with a golf club. As far as the original question: it depends on whether the rule or law addresses behavior that is malum per se (bad by its very nature) or malum prohibitum (bad by fiat of the government). In the case of the former, I obey it; in the cast of the latter, it depends on a number of factors. I enjoyed the post. And I would not have walked into the habitat. I wouldn’t say anything to the women who did either.

      • cjwestkills says:

        So insightful!

        When I think about the law and rules in general, I think about the things that are bad by their very nature. I see the purpose behind *most* laws. But I agree that arbitrary rules aren’t high on my list either.

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