Why can't we get along?
Why is it that a couple of beers and a couple of shots turn people into Mike Tyson? Has anything positive ever come from a bar fight?
Except for losing number 18 to a pretzel and number 19 to a devilish nugget of Kellogg’s Low Fat Granola, I have all of my teeth. Hockey was not big in East Oakland, but fighting was. I managed to avoid both and save my Chiclets. I guess my Freddie Patek stature did not make me a worthy opponent for the wannabe Ali’s.
But every year or so, amidst my travels to bars across these great United States, I encounter a confrontation or two. It can’t be the alcohol. And it certainly can’t be my fault.
Case in point. I am heading to Crogan’s in the Montclair district of Oakland when a precious parking space opens up. As I am about to make an illegal left turn into the spot, a red SUV wagon comes speeding down the hill to cut me off and take the space. Have you ever tried to get a parking space in Montclair? And who empowered this Subaru to become the Second Coming of the Starsky and Hutch Torino?
After finding a space a couple of blocks away, I had a chance encounter with the culprit. I walked by mumbling “nice driving” to which she seemed to take great offense. (I did add a sincere and friendly “Bitch” to the end of my greeting come to think of it).
Upon joining my friends at the bar and telling my story, in storms the red faced, balding husband of the culprit wanting to “take it outside.”
Now we had been drinking, but were certainly not over the legal limit for driving in the state of California. Had we been on the street, cooler heads would have prevailed. But some people think a bar has a liquor license and a boxing license.
I was in the sorely missed Studebaker’s in Dallas on a crowded Saturday night. A guy my size tries to ram over me to get through. I hold my ground. His second attempt is equally unsuccessful and is accompanied with a push back. His eyes light up and he says let’s “take it outside.” I warn him “not to make the biggest mistake of his life” as I get behind my football player drinking buddies.
Now we had been drinking, but were certainly not over the legal limit for driving in the state of Texas.
I am convinced some people look at a bar and hear a bell and commentary from Howard Cosell in the background. (A sidebar. I did have a bottle of Frazier Cabernet at Bob’s Steak and Chop House in Dallas one night. As the last drop came out of the bottle, I broke into a “Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!” that would have made Billy Crystal proud. But I digress.)
Let’s review. A bar is long and narrow. A boxing ring is square. A bar is made of wood or tile or copper or some other hard substance. A boxing ring is made of soft canvas and padding.
When you bump into someone on a public street, you say, “excuse me.” When you bump into someone in a bar, they want to “take it outside.” Crowd into a seat next to someone on an airplane or movie theater and people waggle into an unspoken, mutually agreed upon position of comfort. Crowd onto a barstool and expect an elbow to the ribs from another patron and an invitation to “take it outside.”
Western movies glamorized the bar fight. Do bottles to the cranium really break that easily? And did anything ever get resolved, except for Nell riding into the sunset with Cowboy Bob instead of Black Bart?
Well, I am making a concerted effort from now on to avoid bar confrontations at all costs. I will leave the breaking of my teeth to the wonderful people at Kellogg’s.
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