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RetroWacktive: “Looking Forward to Being Attacked” (1977)

February 15, 2011


The year was 1977: ERA might have been dead in the water, but no self-respecting modern female worth her weight in Virginia Slims would dream of letting some would-be Casanova in Sansabelt slacks harm so much as a hair on her own Wella Balsamed head. So, it was in this spirit that Lt. Jim Bullard of the Memphis Police Department penned Looking Forward to Being Attacked, a practical guide to self-defense for the Carter-era 24-hour woman.

Leaving no stone unturned, nor hesitating to enlist seemingly every adult female of his acquaintance, Lt. Bullard provides detailed instructions for fending off attackers in all of the places where such assaults are, evidently in his experience, most likely to occur: crowded stores, well-lit library stacks, busy suburban streets, tennis courts in mid-game. And, despite his always consummate professionalism, Lt. Bullard is not above lightening the mood with an empowering jest: “There are five main vulnerable areas of the male body (four for the female body). Each one is a joy in itself. These vulnerable areas can be poked, squeezed, clapped, kicked, scratched, punctured, slashed, stomped, slapped, lascerated [sic], spindled, folded, mutilated. To do all of these for one attack would be terribly bad taste, of course…. If you are attacked by a scuba diver you are in trouble….”

Despite the comic gold Lt. Bullard mines in his prose, the real treasure in the book is the wealth of photos that bring the techniques he explains to life. Carefully staged in an array of sometimes bizarre environments, they not only provide a time capsule of Me Decade fashion, but, divorced from their original context, stand on their own as fascinating, zany, almost surreal works of art. A few examples, recaptioned Japecake-style for your enjoyment, are below.

An innocent shopper, never suspecting she’s about to be the victim of a non-groovy kind of love, carefully selects a coconut (paging Dr. Freud!) from a grocery store cooler stocked like a Turkish bazaar. The actual-sized maple leaf hanging from a chain around her neck appears to be a fertility symbol unique to her tribe, the Greater Indianapolis Hendersons.

A gritty, no-nonsense bakery employee makes like Pam Grier and prepares to pummel her Musk by Jovan—wearing assailant with a baguette. Part of the original caption reads, “Bring your forearm up and over his thumb, then straighten your arm out behind his hand. You are free.” Indeed. Flour power to the people!

“Stop goofing around, Gordie, they’ve already started the Frampton tribute!” A lovers’ spat threatens to ruin a young couple’s senior prom, unless broken hearts can be mended through the healing power of wicker.

Once derided as a wasteful boondoggle, the world’s only gym-mat-paved public parking lot finally begins to pay for itself during a spirited outdoor game of Twister.

“No—you’re the dummy!” An awkward ventriloquism demonstration on a tennis court at midday perfectly illustrates a classic beginner’s mistake.

A naive time-traveling debutante from 1958 plays a dangerous game of “Guess the Appendage” with an unidentified Kennedy.

Tripping on Z-Brick and Naugahyde fumes, a housewife panics as she sees God on the Magnavox console, while the cooler-headed television repairman tries to explain that it’s only Nipsey Russell.

“It really does lift and separate!” Taking care to appear as inconspicuous as possible, a pantsless, raincoat-wearing man with a paper bag on his head blends in seamlessly with his surroundings as his unsuspecting new “friend” enjoys the kind of support she never gets with those cheaper bras.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. sonnypi67 permalink
    February 15, 2011 9:29 am

    With instructions like these what woman wouldn’t look forward to being attacked.

    • February 15, 2011 11:05 am

      All I know is, I don’t want any of my vulnerable areas “spindled.”

      • sonnypi67 permalink
        February 15, 2011 12:59 pm

        Yeah. Tha’ts a little too kinky for my taste.

  2. February 15, 2011 3:31 pm

    I think it’s terrible The Unknown Comic is out there grabbing Playtex bras on the street with total impunity. Has Gerald Ford heard about this menace?

    • February 15, 2011 4:05 pm

      Personally, I’m shocked that they let Wayland Flowers and Madame on The Hollywood Squares again after the disgraceful tennis court incident. “Eight, love” indeed!

  3. Margie Gray Perkins permalink
    December 10, 2014 12:37 am

    I was very thankful to attend one of Lt. Bullard’s classes. After his instructions he asked me to volunteer as a “victim” .using the instructions that he gave I was able to knock him to the floor. I felt better about myself. Two weeks following the class I was attacked and I instantly recalled my training. I knocked my attacker unconscious. Since that time I again used my training when a man broke into a home I was visiting. I charged him and he ran in fear. I now am lic. to carry and since I live in Memphis Tenn. I am unafraid. Not because of strength but because of training. Training is the key to surviving the unexpected attack. I Thank goodness for Lt. Bullard’s Class.I was only 19 when I took his class,I am now 57 and still “Kicking”

  4. Jackie Joh permalink
    December 4, 2015 4:25 pm

    When Lt. Bullard and his partner came to Girl Scout head quarters to talk to the cadet scouts, I was privileged to hear them and get one of their booklets. Unfortunately I loaned it to someone and did not get it back. Wish I could get another copy. It was a light touch on a serious subject. At that time Memphis was number one in rapes for a city their size.

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