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I don’t know why this story came to mind. Maybe it’s to remind me that tough people have feelings too.

Back when I was in college, one of my roommates was from Cincinnati. His little brother was a tackle for Cincinnati Princeton (or one of those elite Cincinnati football high schools you always read about in Sports Illustrated). Big Du was like 6’5” and 250, mostly muscle, as a 17-year-old. He was massive!

There was also this girl who hung out at our apartment. Can’t remember her name…we called her “Rabbit.” She was about 4’10” and skinny. So she couldn’t have weighed more than like 85 pounds.

Anyhow, Rabbit got it into her mind that Big Du was so big and strong that he couldn’t be hurt. So, whenever she saw him, she would run up to him and punch him in the arm as hard as she could. He would protest, “ouch, that hurts; stop it!” And she would cackle. And do it again.

Eventually, he would get so frustrated he would tear up…bless his heart…and look over at his older brother for direction. What could he do? If he lifted even a finger to defend himself, he knew that he would look like a bully who pushed girls around (Du could have squashed the Rabbit with one finger). But…it hurt. Really.

Nobody took it all that seriously, until Du came over to the apartment one day in a muscle shirt. His entire left upper arm was one big bruise.

His brother said, “What happened to your arm?”

Du, exasperated, replied with one word, “Rabbit!”

I don’t remember any more of the story. I do recall that Rabbit stopped hitting Du. So somebody must have said something.

I’ve been thinking about the special challenge of being tough. People think they can say and do whatever they want. Like it will just bounce off. We need tough people…to do hard things…to tell us what we don’t want to hear…to look at the numbers and come up with the right answer…to make things happen. We should remember that they have feelings too.

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