Bar Fights and Mid Life Crises
I was recently drinking with a few buddies and friends of friends when one of the gentlemen in the group made an odd comment: “I kind of want to get into a barfight”.
As a veteran (victim?) of several bar mêlées and a 35-year-old man drinking with other men in their early/mid 30’s, I was confused by this comment. He started talking about how it would be fun to get the blood boiling or something of the sort. I had to interject. “Have you ever been in a barfight?” As I expected, he answered “no”. Shrimpy, soft and naïve, I felt the need to lecture him; to regale him with some stories, and convince him that a barfight was not in his best interests.
I get bothered when people ask me “did you win?” – which of course everyone asked me almost immediately. Rookies. Such ignorance. There is no winner in a barfight. Before we even get into the physical ramifications of a barfight, let’s mention the fact that dudes in barfights are idiots. You are always a loser in that you look like an idiot, get kicked out of the bar, and people around you lose respect for you. When was the last time you heard about a beautiful, classy woman jumping on some chump that just fought another imbecile at McFlanagan’s Irish Alehouse? “The way you cussed out that dude and got in a sloppy fight and got kicked out from McFly’s was so hot!”….. Doesn’t happen.
From a strictly physical perspective: This isn’t a sanctioned boxing match or UFC bout with a referee – a situation where one person wins on points, straight up knocks the other guy out, or the cornerman throws in the towel. In all but one instance I had no clue how I even got involved. It’s like those old cartoons (“Taz” the Tasmanian Devil for example): A tornado of chaos gets whipped up in a bar for some reason and sucks you in. Someone you vaguely know gets punched in the face so you rush into the chaos. Or even worse, you’re sipping your drink at the bar and someone crashes into you and spills your gin and tonic all over your shirt. Then they don’t apologize, rather, they tell you to GFY. Hell No. Helllll No! Game On!
All of my barfight memories are fuzzy. Not because they happened years ago (which they did) but because I was somewhere between buzzed to quite hammered. That, and to my earlier point, these things are always a mess (I know some of my 25 readers will attest to this).
My first barfight involved some drunken idiot dancing into me at the bar and spilling my drink all over the place. I told him to buy me a new one. His buddy stepped in and told me that nobody was buying me shit. I answered “one of you pussies is buying me my next drink!” I slipped the first punch, landed a mediocre left jab on someone that I hope was affiliated with the drunk dancer, then I got tagged in the nose by somebody. Then a bunch of cigarettes flew up in the air, then someone punched me weakly in the ear (not sure if it was the dancer or his girl). What happened next is to this day inexplicable: I slapped the drunk dancer guy. No clue why I didn’t punch him but for some reason I chose to slap him real hard. Perhaps subconsciously I wanted to embarrass him. Next thing I know I was wrestling somebody and losing really badly. Turns out it was the bouncer subduing me. The outcome of this event: 86-ed from the bar, gin and tonic all over my shirt, and a chipped tooth.
My second barfight I actually was somewhat sober (must have been early in the evening) and saw a bunch of kids going at it so I stepped into intervene. Then one of these pricks punched ME in the fucking chin, chipped my tooth again. I lost my shit and shoved him to the ground and started kicking him and yelling. His girlfriend started pulling me back by my collar and the bouncer came and tackled me. The outcome: 86-ed from the bar again and yet another visit to the dentist. So much for playing peacekeeper.
My third barfight: I saw a loose acquaintance of mine getting roughed up so I dove into the brawl. I was hammered. Somehow the whole thing ended up in an alley outside the bar. Before the group could figure out whether to keep fighting or to go home, I punched the guy in front of me real good. He dropped immediately. Fueled by testosterone and drunken pride, I raised my hands to celebrate my glorious triumph. Within milliseconds of raising my hands and leaving myself vulnerable, I saw it. I saw that fist coming from my right side. Like an idiot I turned into the punch. That shit hit me so flush. Next thing I know I’m face down against the ground (mere inches from the dumpster). As a grizzled veteran at this point, before I did anything else, I ran my fingers across my mouth to see if I had lost or chipped any teeth. Through some miracle I hadn’t. Then I left the alley screaming: “Come back you pussies!!!!”
I had another close call a few years ago. I was smoking a cigarette outside this Irish Pub and this enormous Irish kid that I had been doing car bombs and having a good time with mere minutes ago…. He comes out and shoves me. He declares: “You’re cool but your buddy is a fucking douchebag.” Then he smashes a beer bottle at the base of my feet and shoves me again. WTF!!!? This doesn’t make any sense. If you fight my buddy I’ll naturally get involved and try to defend him, but why did you bypass him entirely and come out to the bar patio to go after me? Especially after you complimented me. Luckily, I negotiated my way out of that situation. I told him I’d apologize on behalf of my friend by doing another two rounds of car-bombs on my dime. On my way back into the bar I sent a legendary text message to my buddy – the agitator: “Bro. you need to get the hell outta this bar before this huge Irish guy and his even bigger brother beat the piss out of me cause they hate you. I know this message makes no sense, but get out!”
I also got glassed twice in one week about 4 years ago. Both times by girls, both times through no fault of my own. I don’t want to get into it candidly. Frustrating. Yet another chipped tooth. You know what really blows, being a 31-year-old pacifist minding his own business and getting a bottle smashed over your eye and nose on consecutive weekends.
All in all, I’m pretty sure I convinced my bellicose friend of a friend to have a proper mid-life crisis like the rest of us. Go do some volunteer work or buy a fast car or something. Never been in a fight in his life and wants to make amends at age 32 at the local British Pub. I sniffed out this disaster and prevented it before this amateur built up too much liquid courage. For a second, I entertained the idea and thought it might be fun to engage in a good old-fashioned knock for the first time in years. Luckily, I was slapped back into reality by my own memory bank. Given my track record I knew that in all likelihood: (1) The shrimpy rookie would pick a fight with the wrong crew (2) Some huge Scotsman would come out of nowhere and beat me up (3) The Scotsman’s girlfriend would glass me for shits and giggles (4) I’d have to have some dentist superglue my teeth together again for the 4th time. Buckley’s chance. I’m retired.