Underage Bar Fighting with Special Mention of the Marlboro Man

Back when men worked for scale and magazines still allowed ads with the Marlboro Man, my father used to regularly take me to “Kathy’s Bar” at Damen and Lawrence.  I was only four, but I realized that this working man’s bar would be my Friday nights of the future if I didn’t graduate from eighth grade.

After a long day at preschool, I was at Kathy’s throwing back a Coke and snacking on peanuts.  A commotion arose from some of the regulars by the pool table.  Two ironworkers came to the forefront of the group and squared off in the center of the bar.  The intensity of their slurred speech and violent finger pointing told me this was not an argument over the Cubs game.

Make it a double
Make it a double

I knew this wasn’t normal bar behavior and I looked to my father for how to respond to this potentially life threatening situation.  My father abruptly turned his chair.  He was now in the perfect position to watch the throw down.  I was so close to the action, the spittle could land on me.  I kept glancing back at my dad for clues to run out of the bar for our safety, but my father was ordering another beer from the waitress as if he was sitting ringside at the Spinks-Holmes fight.

“Dad, dad, what’s going to happen?” I asked as my spine tensed up and adrenaline pumped throughout my body.

“They’re going to fight,” he retorted while tossing some popcorn in his mouth and leaning back in the chair as he perched his shoes on top of the table.  “If you don’t turn around, you might miss it.”

I had seen preschoolers bitch slap each other on the playground, but this was a real, unsupervised fight.  There were no teachers to break it up, no helicopter parent able to airlift Little Billy out trouble, nor a code of honor to stop once one boy starts crying.  These were two full size dudes about to go full tilt drunken bum fight.

Suddenly, a maiden appeared between the men. I wondered if they were going to beat her up too.  I glanced back at my dad.  He stood up and walked away.  What was he doing?  A real life version of Van Damme’s epic movie, Bloodsport, was unfolding in front of me.   My dad abandoned me.  Was this one of those early manhood tests?  Survive a bar fight and become an adult?  If I could survive, I knew what story I would be sharing at ‘Show and Tell’ on Friday.

The standoff, like two wild elks squaring off over a mate, continued.  They circled each other while the woman stood in between begging them to back down and resume the pool game.  The intensity built as one of them grabbed a beer bottle.

“Please there are children here!” she shouted as her missing teeth came into my view.  No longer part of the peanut gallery, I was involved.  With that desperate plea, the men backed down.  They exited with a few vulgar words as the bar returned to its normal state of affairs.

My father returned and sat in his chair.

“Dad, where did you go?  These guys fought each other,” I exclaimed as the intensity in my voice had yet to subside.

“I went to the bathroom.  And these guys didn’t fight,” he calmly stated as he took a pull out of his beer, “as soon as a girl gets in the middle of two guys arguing, it’s never going to happen.”

I took in this vast wisdom.  Other classmates of mine where playing with Legos and watching Sesame Street with that stupid yellow bird.  I was learning how the real world works.

“Besides,” he continued, “there was way too much talking.  Real bar fights happen with a punch, not a bunch of yelling.”

Kathy’s Bar is now a T-mobile, the Marlboro Man has retired to that great cattle ranch in the sky, and the union worker has faded into the history books much like Jack Dempsey.  However, I still have the memories of surviving my first bar fight.

A Short Lesson in Pronouns

I was in your office last week and I overheard this conversation between two co-workers:

“We smoked them last night”

“They did a great job running, but we just couldn’t punch through their defense”

“You’re right; we lost that game because he can’t coach.  Next year they need to focus on their back office and not on our franchise guy”

“You played a great game, congrats on the ‘W’!”

Confused?  Both of these guys walked away thinking the conversation was transparent.  In reality, one guy was talking about his kid’s debate team and the other was talking about an amateur jai alai match played in 1992.

More heart attacks occur on Monday than any other day of the week (We site sources here at skiingingjeans.com).  I once flipped through the pamphlet “Diabetes and You,” so I am qualified to tell you that listening to conversations like the one above is the primary reason you will end up in the supine position on a gurney headed to the hospital.  Your brain overloads with so many synapses firing to attempt to understand the ill-connected pronouns that your heart implodes.  On the way to the hospital, some nineteen-year-old, pre-med EMT trying to become the next Doogie Howser will break your ribs doing chest compressions while slipping you the tongue as he treats you like a Resusci Anne doll.  This near death experience is much more enjoyable than listening to Chuck tell you how he threw for 350 yards, went 12-15 from the line, scored an empty net goal, and held Derek Jeter to only one hit over the weekend.

At the hospital, you will probably overhear two doctors having a similar, pronoun filled conversation that you just had with your co-worker.  You will fall into another cardiac arrest and the staff will run for the defibrillator.  They will yell “Clear!” and bring you back to life like Mark Ruffalo in Just Like Heaven.  Please note the medical team doesn’t yell, “You get clear,” “We got clearance,” or “They need to get clear so y’all can blast him.”  They just yell “clear.”  No pronouns are used and it is crystal clear, right?

Newsflash:  You are not on the team.

If “your” team wins the championship and you do not receive a trophy, ring or other item that will later be hawked on eBay when you’re headed for bankruptcy, you are not on the team.  Yes, the owner, the players, and the groundskeeper all say, “fans are a part of the team.”  That is marketing 101.

Aside from the fact that you are not on the team’s payroll, the logic of claiming any type of ownership is bewildering.  Next time you’re at the ballet try to catch yourself saying, “We almost stuck the landing in the third act, but that fall probably cost us the rest of the season.”  In both cases, sports and ballet, you are the consumer.  You expect to be entertained for the money you pay for a ticket, but don’t expect any fanfare for you when they do well.

No sane person will venture outside to get the newspaper with wind chill levels reaching sixty below zero.  However, lunatics, using ice picks to break up frozen beers while losing fingers due to frostbite, will gladly fork over $150 a ticket to watch twenty-two meatheads play catch in an arctic blast.

“Being a Packers fan is in your blood, hereditary even.”

In your blood?  Flight or fight is in your blood.   Wisdom teeth are in your blood.  Sickle-cell anemia is in your blood.  Cheering for a sport created a hundred years ago is not an evolutionary feat.  Until hockey players grow gills and live underwater, sports are still a fad in the annals of man.

Save yourself a trip to the hospital for cardiac arrest and keep your fingers intact by avoiding pronoun abuse.

Page 2 of 2
1 2