BARchetypes: Fighty McFights-A-Lot

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.

BARchetypes: Pabst Drunk

There are many reasons to go see a band live in concert.  To share in a raucous, communal experience.  To hear your favorite music in a new setting.  To bang the skinny chick with the star tattoos on her wrists.  All valid reasons.

One reason probably not high on your list:  To have the lyrics screamed in your ear by some dumbass drunk on shitty beer.

Let’s put this in perspective.  The Dodos are a pretty kick ass band.  Here’s an example for you:

And while the video is kind of eh, that song is amazing live.  The band’s like all percussion.

Anyway, the Dodos played a great show at the Bottom Lounge this past Monday.  What none of their songs needed was off-key vocal accompaniment sung at 125dB.  But the guy looking like a reject from a Pearl Jam fan club circa 1993 sure thought it would help, and just so none of the senses were left out, he made sure to crowd everyone around him with his fat body while smoking cigarettes inside.  (For those of you in the boonies, smoking cigarettes indoors is pretty much a no-no in every major city.)

Nice job Pabst Drunk.

(Side note:  If you’re under 30 and you smoke, you’re a moron; sorry my many friends who smoke.  If you’re under 20 and you smoke, just cut your wrists.  You don’t even have the excuse that it’s ‘cool’ anymore, cos it’s not.)

The Pabst Drunk is that refined class of drunk who isn’t just annoying because he’s piss stupid, but because he managed to get drunk on the Worst Beer of All Time.  Once relegated to cheap Frat Boy parties and redneck truckers, Pabst Blue Ribbon has become the drink of people who, to my chagrin, enjoy the same music as me.  All other things being equal, the Indie Hipster would deserve (mostly) his bad reputation just for drinking that swill.  It’s not even that PBR has no taste like most domestics.  It has a very distinct taste, actually.  It tastes like cold piss.

And the excuse that it’s the cheapest beer no longer holds weight.

The people who drink PBR are the beer drinking equivalents of the Anti-Intellectual.  They have actively sought out the cheapest, worst beer (and not for financial reasons as these middle class white kids are hardly cash-strapped; at least, not in the legitimate, real world, Mommy and Daddy don’t pay my tuition way), and they have done so at the detriment to their taste buds.  That’s right, the Pabst Drunk doesn’t just drink the beer for the image or for irony, he does it because he’s actually grown to like the taste.

Pabst Blue Ribbon drinkers are to alcohol what Creationists are to intelligence:  They’ve engorged themselves on shit for so long, they’ve actually developed a preference for it (I bet you won’t see that analogy on the SATs anytime soon).

Do yourselves a favor beer drinkers of the world.  Reject the stupidity (and shit-taste) of PBR.  Spend the extra $.25 and buy a beer that didn’t come out of a mules urinary track.

Or do yourself one better, grow up and drink some hard alcohol like an adult.

If I’m gonna have a dumbass screaming in my ears, I want to smell the whiskey on his breath.


BARchetypes: Talkative Loner

I have spent a great many hours in bars, starting with the bars of my hometown, the places where my brothers took me to hang among their friends.  In those days, I stood out, and not just because I was one of the few 18 year olds allowed into strictly 21 and over bars.  I wasn’t a drinker back in my early college days.  In fact, it wasn’t until I moved out on my own (to Charlotte) that I began my illustrious love affair with the finest of heaven’s nectars:  Hard liquor.

(It was in Philly that I first drank vodka, and it has been an undignified, sloppy orgy ever sense.)

I love to go to bars.  Dive bars.  Dance clubs.  Pool halls.  Even frat bars in a pinch.  If some make-up shellacked bar maiden with a stick up her ass or a disinterested bro with a tribal tattoo is serving drinks, count me in.  I’ll be treated like dismissible chaff if the drink is stiff enough.  I don’t need you to be my friend, I just need to taste the alcohol.

Bars attract all types and the fun of being a generally unpersonable cunt is that I get to observe these types in their natural habitat, without having to get their personality splooge on my shirt.

Today, I bring you the first in what may be a series.  Or it may be the only one I ever do.  You really can’t tell with us drunk types.

The Talkative Loner

Let me set the scene:  I’m immersing myself in the dimly lit bar, the wood siding and nearly depleted candles washing the whole establishment in shades of brown and basically-brown, purposefully nondescript because this bar is simultaneously a neighborhood restaurant and boring.  It packs in the crowds for the simple reason that when you come here you don’t have to be sexy and you don’t have to have a good story.  You come with a desire for an overpriced drink or an appetite for greasy fries and artery-clogging burgers; this place will do you right.

On the two flat-screen televisions hanging over the bar, Sunday Night Football beams, the San Diego “San Diego has a team?”s losing to the Pittsburgh “We have to play a 4th quarter?”s.

Sitting alone in not-quite-the-corner, finishing the chef’s special and his third beer of the night is our hero:  Almost 6 feet tall, shaggy brown hair with a nasal septum piercing and blue jeans.  God damn blue jeans.  He’s almost good looking except for his inability to pick a look and stick with it.  He looks like a paper doll cut out from AP Magazine by a Tourette’s riddled emo kid.

One minute, our loner is enjoying his beer and mistaking the cocktail waitress’ chatter for sexual interest, the next he’s suddenly in a full own dialogue with the couple sitting across from him.  He knows what school they’re going to, what their majors are and he’s somehow inserted himself into the decision making process of the couple’s non-competitive chess game (yes, this is one of those bars where they have board games in the corner).  The couple isn’t put off by this man interjecting himself into their evening out.  Or, at least, the girl isn’t.  The guy hasn’t looked up from the chess board for five minutes, even though he finished his turn four and a half minutes ago.

Fast forward ten minutes and our intrepid protagonist has moved on from the couple and is now chatting up the guitarist who is playing an evening set for free drinks and the (unfruitful) chance of getting laid.  Not only is our hero a fan of the musician, he is damn impressed.  He likes what he hears.  He wonders what tuning the guitarist is using.  Oh, and by the way, he plays a little music himself.  He’s not great or anything, but he dabbles.

Our hero is The Talkative Loner.  If he were a superhero and wore spandex, his colors would be mauve and puce.  He has very little of his own personality until he comes into contact with someone else, and then, suddenly, he’s like, you know, so totally into that band, too, and yeah, I enjoy de Balzac but I find he lacks heart.  He’s not quite a cipher as he’s just pleasant enough to be around that at the end of the night you think, “That guy was cool.”  But, 2 weeks later, you don’t even remember you met him.

Our hero isn’t a fraud.  While nothing he says is genuine, he isn’t lying.  He just has no personality of his own and latches onto other people’s good times.  He’s like a viral parasite, minus the radiating sex appeal.

At the same time, there is no reason to dislike this guy.  He’ll smoke cigarettes outside with you to keep you company, tell you how interesting it is that you’re pursuing a doctorate in Wheat Germ Manipulation and assure you that, though he’s never seen your favorite movie, he’s heard good things.  He’s damn likable but you won’t remember him next week and that’s for the best because if you did think about him later on, you’d recall that he not only asked you what neighborhood you lived in, he oddly asked you what your apartment number was.

He’d be creepy if he wasn’t so damn forgettable.

The Talkative Loner shares a lot of genetic material with your average Run-of-the-mill Loner:  He’s kind of boring; he doesn’t have many actual friends; his parents don’t return his calls.  But he lacks one specific genetic trait: Inhibition.  Put enough alcohol in any loner, and he’ll become The Talkative Loner.  The difference, though, is the natural Talkative Loner can go from 0 to Conversational in less than half a beer.

Survey 90% of the true Loners in the world and you’ll find a writer/musician/poet/puppeteer under the surface.  Dig deep into a Talkative Loner, and you’ll find that they were in color guard in high school and their favorite band is Oasis.  Plus, they’re lousy in the sack.

The Talkative Loner: Fixtures on the bar scene, but you may go your entire life and not realize that you’ve had a hundred different conversations with them.  They aren’t bad people.  Hell, they aren’t even unlikable.  But they are empty, soulless people, and if you aren’t careful they will attach themselves to you while you sleep.  And then they will impregnate you.

I may be getting them confused with incubi.


All I’m trying to say is, enjoy your night out, drink responsibly, and if you meet a Talkative Loner, protect your uterus.