Tatiana admires what she regards as a “man’s man” — strong, decisive, two-fisted, Will Smith-like.
Not long after Smith slapped Chris Rock on the Oscar stage and a little while after we’d both watched and re-watched videos of the incident, Tatiana wanted to know if I was a real man by the standards of Smith or Vladimir Putin — if I would have the cojones to stride onto the main stage of the Comedy Store, say, and slug a comedian if he had insulted her in some way.
My answer boiled down to “no, I would not slug the comedian onstage in front of an audience.” But we would have stern words in private after he’d completed his set. I would admonish him for being callous or thoughtless and I would insist upon a civil apology, but no, I would not follow the Putin playbook by slugging him or kicking him in the balls or forcing a cyanide capsule into his mouth and holding his jaw shut.
“Are you a man? Do you know what a real man is?” came her response.
“I’m not a tough, two-fisted Russian husband, I can tell you that,” I said, “and I’ve never felt so proud of myself as I am this very moment. So no, I am not a face-slapping kind of guy, certainly not in public and in full view of a paying audience.
“So I am not Will Smith, and thank you very much for allowing me to make things clear in this regard. I don’t tolerate cruelty or hurting a woman’s feelings or in any way humiliating her in front of others, but I do believe in settling things outside and privately, face to face and eyeball to eyeball.”