I was in a bar just minding my own business. How many anecdotes start off this way, right? But this one is based on fact, Jack!! It’s true. I should preface this with the fact that I don’t go to bars much any more unless it’s to play a gig, but there was a time when I could hang out for hours if there was live music. Now, the law of averages dictate that the more time you spend in a bar, the greater chance of either witnessing some sort of booze-fuelled aggression or somehow getting caught up in it quite innocently.
Let’s Begin Again
After the usual number of gestational weeks, I was born with two tiny fists into a family with a rich history of cowardice. I was taught early on to use my words to get out of being pummelled, and if that wasn’t going to cut it, run. Fast.
Meanwhile Back at the Bar . . .
While attending a big-city, big-shot university, I was in a dive bar deep in the heart of the city’s core. It was seedier back then. Now it’s clean and shiny. I had planned to be there with some friends before we’d have to head off together to attend a Stevie Ray Vaughn / Robert Plant double bill concert. We were barely situated when a guy with a rather severe looking skull (resembling a cement block) walked up to me and asked if I was looking at his ‘woman’. I remember him saying: “Are you looking at my woman?” The question kind of took me off guard as I did not know who his ‘woman’ was or who on earth would describe their partner as a gender-specific possession. It all sound sounded a little Neolithic, but then again he did share a number of simian features. What I was looking for was probably the bathroom. I explained that I was not looking at anyone, but he was having none of it. When it became clear that he was going to beat me up real good, I turned and ran like the wind, leaping like a majestic gazelle over a chair that had been pushed out from a table. I am strictly a pacifist when it comes to engaging in any type of physical confrontation. If I had muscles and knew where my abs were it may be a different deal all together.
More recently I rolled up on some type of alpha-male mindless exhibition of physical aggression. Round these here parts it’s been raining for what seems like years, so on an unusually sunny day, the whole hamlet came to life, people walking pets, jogging, biking. Flying kites. I wasn’t doing any of that. I was driving to my band’s rehearsal space. It’s a condemned morgue but there’s still electricity and running water. From a distance I could see two young men in the early stages of what could become a one-on-one fistfight; fisticuffs, as my dad would say and still says. He also says “donnybrook”. He loves his hockey. They were in the shove-shove back phase. This stage always has the tendency to go on for minutes or hours and end in both parties walking away or someone throwing the first punch. It’s hard to predict.
I slowed my approach. One was clearly the aggressor. He had a tight white shirt with no sleeves. I pulled up adjacent, rolling down my passenger’s window as they jostled on the sidewalk.
“What the hell are you guys doing?” I asked shaking my head. It was 2 pm on a Sunday afternoon. I was legitimately interested into figuring out the thought process of a dude intent on instigating a fight on a public sidewalk on the first sunny Sunday since 1997.
“We’re just about to square off,” the dude with the white shirt informed me. I looked at him and looked at the other guy and said “Okay, sounds reasonable” before driving off. I asked a simple question and he gave me a simple answer. He also looked at me kinda mean. He had that same block head from that guy in the bar years ago. I watched from my rearview mirror as a rather large man with a pretty cool tweed hat walked upon the two combatants. I knew he was going to enquire much like I did. I stopped the Jeep in a driveway and watched.
I could see the white-shirted kid puff up, gesturing to the dog-walker. I could tell the dog wasn’t having any of it. Neither was the dog walker. The kid with the white shirt deflated and walked off. Kids were now safe to fly their kites. I’d like to think of myself as a hero but I can’t really because of my modesty and the fact that I drove off. Still, it would be nice if the town at least recognized my efforts to bring peace to the hamlet. This could be done with some type of subtle gesture, like some sort of bronze statue at the beach.