If you spend much time in bars (and why wouldn’t you?), you’ve likely seen one of the great traditions of the drinking scene: The Bar Fight.
You might not have been directly involved, maybe never even saw a punch thrown, but you’ve likely witnessed the testosterone display known as The Raging of the Drunks (or El Encierro, as it is known). It’s like a “free show with drink” offer. Pretty much every bar fight that doesn’t involve a slap in the face with a white glove and a call for a duel will include a special ‘Bar’-chetype: Fighty McFights-A-Lot.
Our fine fellow is quite the specimen. Drunk doesn’t do him justice. Obliterated is more apt. Shitfaced. I’m not talking about some guy who had a bad day and is just waiting for someone to set him off. Ol’ Fighty doesn’t even know what he’s doing. He’ll likely seem perfectly amiable one minute and pissed off the next. His mood switches more rapidly than a PMS-ing rattlesnake with bipolar disorder. In less than five minutes, he’ll go from apologizing for bumping into you to threatening to kick your ass.
This man cannot handle his liquor.
In my life, I’ve had 4 different people threaten to kick my ass, and all of them were because of alcohol. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Only 4?” I’m as surprised as you.
2 of those times were at bars, and both of those times were within the last year (I must be doing something right in my old age.)
Now, let’s get something straight right now. I am not a very masculine guy. I’m just not. I have my definitive male traits, certainly, but Alpha Male I am not. Let’s put it this way: When God was passing out Manliness, I thought he said, “Mayonnaise” and I said, “Make it light.”
My first bar experience getting my ass threatened with a whooping by a Fighty McFights-A-Lot was at an old haunt of mine during a visit to my hometown. The JazzHaus isn’t some shitty little dive bar, nor is it a Frat Bar. It is what its name implies, a cool venue for good music (and the occasional poetry slam). It doesn’t traditionally attract the kind of zealous drunks who you might expect to be total douches. But a bar’s a bar’s a bar, and a Fighty can slip in anywhere.
I was hanging with a group of friends, talking to two separate tables, so I was standing in the aisle, jumping back and forth between conversations. Enter, stage left, Fighty Numero Uno. He manages to step on my foot and nearly tumble back into the table behind us. Immediately, he’s apologizing, but it’s obvious he barely realizes where he is, let alone what’s happening. He’s got his hand on my shoulder as much as a way to support himself as it is to talk to me. In my natural, sardonic way, I brush him off, tell him it’s no big deal and casually suggest he be careful as he continues on his way. No issue.
But as he starts to wobble past me, he slaps me on my stomach. Or, rather, he meant to slap my stomach. In reality, he hit a bit south. He didn’t hit hard, and I wasn’t bothered by it, but as I am who I am, I felt inclined to jovially quip, “Don’t hit my penis.”
Perhaps a mistake?
Immediately he goes 0-60 from sheepish, stumbling drunk to belligerent, stumbling drunk.
“What did you say to me? Did you just tell me to suck your penis?”
Now, a Freudian could have a field day with his mishearing of my words, but I smiled and shook my head. “It’s okay.”
Alas, no, it wasn’t okay. “You want to go outside? I’ll fucking kick your ass!” Immediately, my friends realize there’s trouble in River City. People jump in, try to calm him down or shew him on. But he’s not calming down, and he’s not enjoying the fact that instead of yelling back or apologizing, I just stare at him with a half grin and say nothing.
Soon, Fighty’s friends show up. “What’s the matter?”
“This faggot just told me to suck his dick! I’m going to kick this faggot’s ass!” Now, I’ve been called a faggot a lot of times in my life, and I’m starting to get the feeling that it’s not meant in a nice way.
His friends, realizing that Fighty is wasted and likely unaware of what’s going on, begin pulling him away, apologizing profusely all the while. He’s still fuming mad even as they escort him to the door, and it’s obvious that he would have much preferred that I follow him outside. A part of me kind of wishes I had. Like I said, I’ve been threatened 4 times, but nothing has ever come to blows. Other than childhood fights with a brother, I’ve never been in anything that could be called a real fight. And like Tyler Durden says, “How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”
But then, the much larger, rational part of myself reminds me that I’m okay not knowing my pummeled self.
Fast forward a half year, and I’m at a different bar, here in Chicago, the Tonic Room. I’ve just finished watching a couple of coworker friends play a solid Rap/Funk set and I’m about to head home. I step outside and there are two more of my friends, female coworkers who had stepped out for a smoke. And with them is Fighty Numero Dos. I could immediately sense that this guy was one or six drinks over his limit, and he wasn’t a happy drunk. I decided to hang out with my friends a little longer, until Fighty moved on.
He had been haranguing my friends for a hit off their cigarette for a few minutes and they were not interested in sharing with a guy they didn’t know who didn’t look particularly hygienic. Fighty wasn’t getting the hint.
As his failed attempts to bum a smoke continued on and the conversation lurched forward (despite efforts to not-so-subtly urge him to move on down the street), Fighty revealed that he was hoping to bag himself a bed companion for the evening, but my two friends weren’t feeling it. Surprising really, because he seemed like a charming chap.
While Fighty continued receiving the bum’s rush, his resolve to remain calm began to waver. I could tell he was deliberately resisting the urge to call my friends ‘bitches’, avoiding the nuclear option by pausing every few seconds to self-edit before he went over the line (actually kind of impressive considering how torn up he was).
Eventually, though, he had to pass a line. Otherwise, there’d be no story.
After losing his patience, he got in my friend’s face; let’s call her Sally. Sally told him to back off and that’s when I felt compelled to interject my arm between Sally and Fighty. Fighty, ironically, did not appreciate my invasion of his personal space. Flipping on me, he yelled in my face, “Take your hand out of my face!” You can guess where this was going. There was a few seconds of him yelling at me and me, as in the prior example, half grinning at him in return. My natural inclination is to let Fightys vent for a minute and hope the anger passes (again, no Alpha Male here), but I think my noncommittal expression just pisses them off further. Good to know for future reference.
With no random group of strangers to pull him away, this was leading to actual fight territory.
Except, enter my second friend; let’s call her Susan.
Susan went off on him. Full on Perry Cox, if Perry Cox were a black woman and on HBO. Susan was in Fighty’s face, and despite his best efforts to sidestep her and bring the fight back to me (he obviously wasn’t going to try to fight a woman), Susan kept the barrage going. He made a couple of ill-advised, semi-valiant efforts at a rebuttal, but when you’re a drunken idiot and you’ve just been dressed down by a woman who looks like she’s willing to take a few swings herself, well, you ain’t going to get far.
After some mumbling comment about how he had friends he could call to back him up (to which, Susan replied, “Here, use my phone!”) and an ineffectual attempt to escalate the yelling, Fighty McFights-A-Lot skulked off into the night, looking back every few feet, presumably to make sure his tail was still firmly tucked between his legs.
The moral to this story – and I assure you, there is absolutely no moral to any of my stories – is that if you’re a drunken idiot, threatening to kick someone’s ass doesn’t make you look like less of a drunken idiot. It just makes you a funny story.
Oh, and don’t fuck with black women.