I don’t know if this kind of stuff happens to everybody, or if I’m a magnet for nuts.
I’m sitting here at the window seat of this sports bar eating some french fries. This guy is sitting two seats down from me drinking a pitcher of beer. He’s seemingly normal-looking; neatly-dressed and neatly-groomed, a 6-foot white guy. Could pass for an up-and-coming 30-year-old business executive on his lunchbreak. But he keeps making these weird noises, so I’m slightly wary of him and keeping an eye on him out of the corner of my eye, just in case the situation escalates. Which it does.
Suddenly he lurches over towards me holding his pitcher of beer in the air and gesturing like he’s going to pour some beer into my cup of lemonade. “Care to join me?” he says.
“No thanks,” I say, “I’m drinking lemonade. But thanks.”
He returns to his seat. But then suddenly he lurches back at me and grabs a hand full of my french fries.
“HEY PUT THOSE BACK!” I shout. “KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OF MY FOOD!!”
He puts the french fries back. But he keeps leering at me with this crazy smile on his face. And then he advances again towards my french fries.
“GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!!” I shout. “GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM MY FOOD.”
But he’s not backing down. He keeps standing there like he’s considering making another grab at my french fries. So I jump up and confront him face to face.
“YOU DON’T TOUCH OTHER PEOPLE’S FOOD!! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU!!” GET AWAY FROM ME!!” I am ready to fight to the death to protect my french fries (preferably his).
He makes another move towards me. “GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME, MAN!!” I repeat. “GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!!!” I generally like to keep a quiet low-profile in public. But now every person in the bar is staring at me. Sometimes you end up the star of the movie whether you want to be or not.
The bar security guy comes over to find out what the disturbance is all about. “THIS NUT KEEPS GRABBING AT MY FOOD!!” I explain. The security guard engages the nut in conversation, explains to him that he has to leave the premises. Finally the nut picks up his large duffel bag full of his stuff and heads on out the door. But he doesn’t leave, he stands there in the doorway for some time like he’s considering coming back in. The security guy goes back outside, chats with him further, and FINALLY he heads on down the road. No doubt in pursuit of bigger and better things.
I gave up a long time ago trying to figure out people like that. Some people are just a.) nuts, b.) assholes, c.) on drugs, or d.) some inexplicable combination of the three.
The most memorable moment of the Warriors – Cavs game?
End of the 3rd quarter I go into the restroom of the sports bar to urinate. As I’m urinating this guy sidles up to the urinal next to me.
“HOW YOU DOIN’ MY MAN??” he shouts.
“Fine,” I says. “How are you doing?”
“OK!!” he shouts. “I HAVENT SEEN YOU AROUND IN AWHILE!!”
“I’ve been around,” I says.
Evidently he knows me. I have no idea who he is. This happens to me often these days. Where some guy I don’t know, knows me. And I always wonder: Do they REALLY know who I am? Or are they just saying that for some reason??
“HOW DO YOU LIKE THE GAME SO FAR??” he shouts.
“Warriors looking good,” I says.
So now I’m making smalltalk with some stranger standing right next to me while I’m drunk and trying to urinate. One of my least favorite things to do. But what can I do? I’m trapped. I can’t stop urinating in mid-stream. So I’m stuck there.
“I HATE THE WARRIORS!!” he shouts, with a hard edge of anger in his voice.
“Oh really?” I says.
So now my attempt at dull banal “sports small-talk” has an added complication. He obviously has some kind of axe to grind. So now I have to think about what he’s saying. And I hate having to think when I’m drunk.
“ALL THESE PEOPLE OUT THERE WEARING THEIR WARRIORS JERSEYS!! WHERE WERE THEY WHEN THE WARRIORS WERE LOSING!!”
“I guess they’re just fair-weather fans,” I says.
“EXACTLY!!!” he shouts.
So I’ve at least managed to say something that would placate him. And we ended our urination on a pleasant note.
I zipped up my pants and went back out to my table and my pitcher of beer and watched the fourth quarter. The End.
Pappy’s was packed like sardines for game 7, Golden State Warriors vs Houston Rockets.
The highlight, the best play of the game, for me?
The young black couple that were sitting right in front of me decided to leave at halftime. This Asian woman who jumped in there to get their vacated seats noticed that they had left their wallet on the floor. She grabbed the wallet. Looked around. “They went that’away,” I said, pointing down the street. She ran outside and chased after them.
Game 5 I’m sitting in the back of this jam-packed sports bar at a table with this big crew of young black guys and gals. All of whom are loudly rooting for the Warriors. Except for this one guy. This young guy with dreads. He’s rooting for the Cavs. Probably the only guy in the entire building that’s rooting for the Cavs.
Every time the Cavs score a point he’s the only person in the crowd who cheers. And when the Cavs fuck up (which was often) he’d grimace in pain. You could tell he was a die-hard fan.
But throughout the game all of his friends were mercilessly ragging on him.
Every time LeBron made a mistake, one of them would get in his face and shout things like: “BEST PLAYER ON THE PLANET?? HMPH!! HE’S A CHUMP!!”
He’d try to muster a comeback. But it’s hard to be the one person standing up against a rabid mob. And I always respect anyone with the guts to do that.
But as the game was winding down and you could tell the Cavs were going down, his friends got even more brutal with the mockery. One of the chicks kept pointing at him with a wild smile on her face while she kept shouting at him: “YOUR CAVS ARE NOTHING BUT A BUNCH OF LOSERS!! LOOOOSERS!!! MAYBE NEXT YEAR, BRO’!!”
And all he could do was put his head down and sort of retreat into his shell and take the abuse. What could he say? The Cavs were losers.
But right after the game ended, and the Warriors had won, and the entire sports bar is going absolutely nuts. I couldn’t resist going up to him and patting him on the shoulder.
“Your Cavs put up a good fight,” I said. “They’ll be back next year.”
And we pushed knuckles.
And he gave me the biggest, sweetest smile I had ever seen.
It was probably the first nice thing anybody had said to him all night. Ha ha.
I’m sitting at a table at this sports bar, Kips, watching the Warriors game. And the place is pretty packed because it’s the NBA Finals.
So at halftime I get up and go to the bar to order my second pitcher of Racer 5. But when I come back to my table three people are getting ready to sit down at my spot. Two middle-aged looking guys and a woman. “That’s my table!” I said rather firmly. I was slightly pissed because it’s like you turn your back for a second and somebody tries to steal your space. And they were slightly pissed because to them it looked like an empty table, my backpack was under the table and I hadn’t left anything on the table to mark it as mine. So from their point of view, they’re just about to sit down at this great spot when all of a sudden some asshole (me) cuts ahead of them and claims it for himself. So we’re all sort of jawing at each other a little.
“Is it OK if we sit here?” says one of the guys, gesturing to the two empty seats across from me.
“Sure. The more the merrier,” I said.
So we’re sharing the table. I don’t know what happened to the third person, she had to go sit somewhere else. Which I’m sure also annoyed them because their party had been broken up.
Then one of the guys — this sort of weasel-y looking guy with glasses — makes a jokey comment: “You better watch out that we don’t slip something in your drink.”
I bristled for a second. Because I don’t like anybody making threatening comments at me. Even if it’s supposedly a joke. And it was an odd thing to say. But then I figured, fuck it. We’re all buzzed and babbling at this point. And the last thing I wanted was to get into any kind of conflict with people sitting right across from me in a packed sports bar full of people in various states of intoxication. So I forgot all about it and concentrated on the second half of the Warriors game.
So after the game I’m pretty buzzed from the two pitchers of beer (8-point-something percent alcohol content). But nothing particularly unusual for me. I remember that the Warriors lost the game. But pretty much most of the end of the game was a blank in my mind (I didn’t find out it ended up going into overtime until I heard about it on the radio the next day).
So I go to People’s Park to hang out with some street people friends of mine. Debby O and Star Guy are there. And I’m sitting there chatting with them like usual. When all of a sudden I realize I’m face down on the ground. Apparently I had tried to stand up and I’d lost my balance and crashed face-first to the ground. The old face-plant. “Fighting against the laws of gravity,” as I sometimes put it. When I tried to stand up again I fell face-first a second time. My glasses went flying one way and my cellphone went flying another. Debby O and Star Guy were in a state of alarm. “Your face is bleeding!” she said. I don’t know how many times I thrashed and swooned around before they finally managed to steer me to a picnic table. They found my glasses and cellphone, and I sat there for awhile organizing myself while Debby O washed the blood off of my glasses in the women’s restroom.
So then I rather wobbly headed up towards my campsite in the hills. I had one further problem when I couldn’t find where I had stashed my supply of cat food in the bushes on the campus. At first I was convinced somebody had stolen my shit But then I realized I was looking in the wrong spot.
I made it up to my campsite. Woke up the next morning and my face was pretty bruised and battered and caked with dry blood in various spots (my big fat nose took the major brunt of the damage). And I thought; “Man, I drank too much last night!”
But then I remembered that odd comment that guy had made: “You better watch out we don’t slip something into your drink.” And I went, “Hmmm?” And it made me wonder. I’ve heard stories about people who go to bars and slip “date rape” drugs into people’s drinks. And you never know what kind of strange characters you might run into in a bar.
But I guess I’ll never know for sure. Because it could just be that I drank too much.
I just had a weird scene. I’m at this sports bar on the Ave watching the Warriors game minding my own business. And, for no discernible reason, this total stranger, this drunken lunatic, goes off on me and starts throwing punches at me. “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU??!!” I said, as I’m dodging the blows. To my credit, I didn’t spill a drop of the cup of beer in my hand as I’m rolling with the punches.
Then I go to the Park, I’m hanging out with the boys, telling them the story about this nut going off on me for no apparent reason. And then another stranger, this Asian college student, shows up and says: “HEY, I HAVE FOUR BOXES OF FRESH PIZZA IF ANYBODY IS HUNGRY.”
And that’s cool. But the confusing philosophical question is this: One stranger wants to fuck with me for no apparent reason. And another stranger wants to help me for no apparent reason. And neither of them makes any apparent sense. . . . Though I have to believe it all makes sense on some level. . . . I guess that’s my ultimate philosophical leap of faith: That this life makes sense. Even when it often doesn’t seem to.
* * *
The actual “fight” was surreal because it was so sudden and unexpected. Like a shark attack or something. The basketball game had just ended (Warriors lost to the Cavs — darn darn darn). I still had some of my pitcher of beer left, but I felt like splitting, so I poured the remaining beer into a to-go coffee cup for the road. Then I went down to the basement to take a quick piss in the men’s room. But there were all of these sketchy people milling around in there. And the place was a mess. Totally trashed-out. Some idiot had dumped the entire contents of the garbage can into the toilet. So I went to the next stall, but there’s an empty whiskey bottle in that toilet. Always a bad sign. People who slam straight whiskey are amongst the worst specimens in the grand pantheon of Bad Drunks.
Unlike, say, beer-drinkers, who generally aspire towards this slow, gradual progression to goofy, sloppy drunkenness, pounding straight whiskey is like slamming fire directly into your bloodstream. It is more like shooting speed where you get this immediate adrenaline rush right to your brain. Along with this fiendish, demented clarity. And this Dr. Jekkyl – Mr. Hyde transformation where this monstrous side of your personality is suddenly being released. In fact, that’s often precisely WHY the whiskey-binger drinks — as an excuse to release all of his pent-up repressions.
Anyways, I leave the men’s room in disgust without even taking a leak. This young Latino guy in a blue Warriors jersey immediately follows me out of the men’s room, pushes his chest into mine and angrily confronts me.
“DID YOU SPLASH ME??” he said
“No, I didn’t splash you,” I said. “What are you talking about?”
“YOU SPLASHED ME IN THERE!!” he said.
I made a bee-line back upstairs. Grabbed my backpack and started organizing myself for my departure. Then I noticed through the front window that the guy with the Warriors jersey was right outside on the sidewalk, pacing back and forth and glaring at me like he’s waiting for me to come out. What the fuck. How did I get myself in the middle of this? I killed a few minutes milling around with the people at the bar, figuring the guy would get distracted (whiskey-bingers usually have the attention-span of a flea) and go off in search of some other victim. Then I darted out the front door and headed up Telegraph Avenue in the opposite direction of the asshole.
I darted up Durant Street thinking I had escaped from the asshole. Only to realize, to my dismay, that the asshole had followed me and was running towards me shouting: “YOU SPLASHED ME!!”
I turned and confronted him: “No I didn’t splash you,” I said.
“Oh. OK,” he said. “I’m a nice guy.” That seemed to placate him. He turned and started walking back towards the bar.
“All right, cool cat,” I said. Thinking we had resolved the grievance. Whatever the hell the grievance had actually been.
Instead, he turned around and shouted at me: “WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY TO ME??!!”
Then he charged at me and started pummeling me with punches. I had my arms up protectimg my head, so even though he was flailing away at me, none of the punches did any damage, except for one that hit my knuckle (it was a little sore the next day). And hopefully the Asshole broke a few bones in his hands while he was flailing away.
“WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU??” I asked, in all sincerity.
Which seemed to strike a nerve with the Asshole. Probably because it’s a question he grapples with on a daily basis. So he turned and headed back to the bar. And the whole thing was over as quickly as it had started.
I walked over to People’s Park. And I started giving Hate Man a blow-by-blow account of this interaction. Mostly just trying to make sense of this weird and inexplicable intrusion into my evening. Off in the distance I could hear the sounds of police cars and ambulance sirens rushing off in the general direction of the bar. No doubt the third or fourth act (and hopefully the final act) of the Asshole’s melodrama for this evening. . .
Sometimes I think there’s something a little unmanly about me. Because I generally go out of my way to avoid getting in fights. Even when someone sincerely deserves to get their fucking ass beat. I guess I feel kind of squeamish about physical violence. I find all that “macho” stuff vaguely ridiculous. Even as I’m 6-foot, about 200 pounds, and could probably do some damage if somebody really pushed me. . . Every now and then someone will push me too far, and I’ll actually start throwing punches back at the asshole. But the problem is: After a minute or two, my rage will subside and I’ll feel like a fool dancing around in public throwing punches. I’ll complete lose interest in the fight. But I have to will myself to keep fighting, because you can’t just stop at the point, because the other guy is still flailing away. You can’t just stop dancing in the middle of a dance. Once you make that commitment you’ve got to play the whole stupid thing out to it’s conclusion.
I guess my attitude, re avoiding fights, is this: “It’s a big world. And the whole point is to occupy a part of it that doesn’t include the Asshole.” That attitude seems to make sense. So I’m sticking with it until further notice.