Friday, February 13, 2004


Ok, I admit. I am unimaginative today... but what the hell? I am following the latest trend and posting to you my story of Bar Room Brawls.

My friend John, is for a lack of a better term, totally freaking handsome. He is so funny and cool and all that good stuff that you say about your husband's best friend when you really just want to smooch them. ANYWAY, he's this very mellow guy, but has one of those rowdy-kick-your-ass-don't-take-no-bullshit-laughs-too-loud-at-jokes-that-aren't-even-slightly-funny-asks-you-to-marry-him-twice-then-sings-happy-birthday kinds of drunk personalities. He has such a dual persona... he's the coolest stoner you've ever met... he'll kick your ass at XBox and tell you which comic books you should be reading, and then suddenly he's the no-nonsense-quit-messing-with-me-buddy-or-I'll-break-your-face guy. This is how it goes when you mess with him :

1. After drinking in a bar after work, John stops into liquor store at the Balboa Fun Zone to pick up a 6 pack of beer and head home. When he comes out of the liquor store, two guys stagger out of the adjacent bar. Both are very obviously drunk, and one can barely walk. The other is just drunk enough to feel invincible and is looking for trouble. Both guys are sporting flat top haircuts, which can only mean one thing around here : Marines.

So John sees the Guy and tries to get past him on the sidewalk when the Guy starts yelling at him, trying to start a fight. John tells him that he doesn't want to fight with him, and tries to walk past. In a cloud of profanities and insults, the Guy reaches over and rips John's watch from his wrist. That was it... John sets down his 6 pack and goes chest-to-chest with the Guy. The Guy starts throwing sloppy punches. John returns with precision hits. By all accounts, the Guy's nose is broken. Blood is pouring down his face. The injury probably isn't all that severe, but the Guy has been drinking. John tries several times just to back up and leave, realizing that the Guy is too drunk to know how hurt he is. The Guy's friend yells for him to stop and to hurry, or they'll miss the ferry back to the island. The friend is dismissed with a wave of the hand. The friend tries to pull the guy toward the ferry. John picks up his 6 pack and sets off for home.

Not five steps are between them, the Guy and John. John's back is turned, but he hears the Guy coming. Running. In an instant, he’s on John’s back. He’s got his arm around John's throat. He’s yelling "who's the tough guy now?!" Without missing a step, John reaches into the bag that he's carrying and withdraws a single beer bottle. Holding the neck of the bottle in his hand he throws his arm backward, over his head, and smashes the Guy in the head with the bottle. The Guy lets go. He's finally, and acutely, aware of his pain. His head is cut, bleeding. His nose is throbbing, swollen. His face is streaming with blood. The Guy cuts his losses and steps back. He looks over at his friend, swaying on the side of the street, disbelieving what he’s seeing.

"You need to fuckin' chill out, dude," John says and hands the Guy a beer. He turns and heads home, finally, opening a beer for himself on the walk.

2. Saint Patrick's Day 2001. The Plan : to hit every bar between the 55 freeway and the Balboa Peninsula. Directions : begin at the Goat Hill Tavern and make your way down Newport Blvd, until it turns into Balboa Blvd and dead-ends at the ocean. Festivities begin at noon.

6pm : John and Rosey have been out all day, drinking in full force. By now they have made their way nearly to the end of Newport, but are too tired to make it to the final destination - The Class of ‘47.

John makes his way to the back of the bar, where the beat up old payphone hangs on the wall. He deposits his money and calls up a cab company. The connection was as poor as the dispatcher's English. After several minutes of "What?" "No, no, no… Newport" "Huh?" "My name is John" "What?!" "No… John" "Yes, uh huh… no, NEWPORT" "What?!!" John was getting a little flustered. Only exacerbating the situation was a drunkard behind him, wanting to use the phone. It started with the "c'mon man… I need to use the phone" and escalated to "hey you fucking asshole! I said I want to use the phone now!" John is normally a very patient guy, but he finally lost it when the guy walked up and yanked the receiver out of John's hand.

"You’re done now," the drunk guy snarled, mistaking John for the kind of guy who would back down when confronted.

John took the receiver back from the drunk guy and smashed him over the head with it. In true nerd style, he borrowed a quip from Whalon Smithers and said "It's for you" as he hit the guy over the head once more.

Drunk guy stood there and stared. Apparently, he himself was the kind of guy to back down. He watched John walk away and meet his cab out front, but never moved from the back hall of that bar.

8pm : now the whole gang is together at the '47. We are packed around a small table, crowded against the wall. The place is full of people. Literally, packed to the gills. John is shooting pool with an assorted bunch of people. The bar is busy and the pool tables are in constant demand, but seeing as it is a holiday, and 99% of us are drunk, everyone is sharing the tables. Impromptu teams have formed, I am sharing a pool cue with three strange men, one who barely speaks English.

The girl on John's team asks him for his help making her shot. She's been outwardly flirting with him since she spied him playing here. Her friendly eyes and girlish giggles have already made their way into purposefully-accidental bumps into each other. Ever the gentleman, he coaches her on her stance. He suggests that she hold the cue in a better grip with her right hand and just let it lightly rub across the fingers of her left hand. She giggles again and leans forward more. Everything that you ever wanted to know about her cleavage is now in full view. He then walks behind her and lines up her shot, while suggesting she widen her stance. She coos "you really think so? Spread like this?" I tell you folks, it was straight out of a movie. So, they play their game and the girl wanders off to the bar alone.

John has rejoined the group at the table and has just taken a seat when a thick guy with tattooed muscles flexing up and down his arms approaches the table. He stands there for a moment, waiting for John to notice him. When John finally turns to look, the guy grabs John around the throat "What the fuck are you doing over there with my girlfriend? You think you're funny, Mr. Tough Guy?" John is strangling and can’t breathe. His whole face is flushed, and the guys in our group are already on their feet, ready to make a move. But John doesn’t give the guy the satisfaction. He can't keep his face from turning red, but he refuses to choke, to give this guy any indication that he's winning. Instead, he looks the guy straight in the eye. Reaches up to the hand around his throat, grabs the thumb and twists backward. Everyone around cringed at the audible ‘pop’ as the bone dislocated from the socket.

The guy says "oh yeah? You think THAT is gonna stop me?" and uses his other hand to grab John again. John raises one eyebrow, reaches up… 'pop' again. The guy can no longer grab him, and is in a considerable amount of pain. He starts to yell and rant about how he’s gonna kill this guy over here… who the fuck breaks someone's thumbs?... this guy is DEAD! Can you hear him? DEAD!

We all look at each other, chug the last of our drinks and head out. The bartender stopping John on the way out, "you ok?" "I'm ok, I’m totally fine…" "Ok, then… See you Friday?"

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