I’m not six foot four, two hundred and sixty pounds of pure muscle. I’m not a tank or a truck or even a sedan. If you took a look at me maybe you’d say I was a tricycle or a scooter. I’m not saying I’m a roller skate - I’m slightly built. I’ve got a European cut. Let’s just say I’m not a very imposing guy when I pull up to a barstool.
So how come every crazy-eyed dimwit out there wants to pick a fight with me?
It’s not that I mind getting thrown around a bar now and then. I can take a beating without crying for mommy. I’ve even gotten a couple of punches in over the years; it’s just that I’m not interested in doing the bar room shuffle these days. I don’t pick fights. I’m a nice guy and I don’t, as my Uncle Louie says, “…give nobody no trouble!”
But still they come at me.
When I walk into a bar with my wife there’s always a bruiser or two with his knuckles on alert. It’s got to be my head, I’ve got a small head - it’s noticeable. When you don’t have hair and the head is rather small it’s out there for everyone to see. When a Neanderthal sees my head walking into a bar it looks to him like a big button that he’s got to push. He’s got to, even if he doesn’t want to.
That’s animal instinct.
They walk right up and step on my foot. They’ll try and make a comment. It doesn’t matter what they say. It doesn’t matter what I say. The first words out of my mouth are fighting words to them. Then it’s button-pushing time.
My only advantage is that I know what’s coming. They don’t know that I know that they’re about to kick my ass. So I grab a bottle or a stool or an ashtray and strike first. It’s effective. Then, once they check the damage, they say something like, “Hey, what the hell’s your problem?” and the fight is on.
Last month we had a real doozy of a fight. Local bars in Brooklyn are good for big four-on-one brawls.
My wife and I and a few other friends went to visit a bartender we know at his new place in Brooklyn. It’s a dumpy joint but it had a bar and the drinks were cheap. We pull up some barstools and four young guys down on the end, local kids, get the scent of the small head right off the bat. I sized them up. Two of them are huge and one is the same size as me and the last looks like he fell out of a test tube early. All together, they didn’t look like they’d know how to tie a shoelace.
Of course it’s test tube boy who’s going to put the rub on me while the others watch, back him up. That’s how it works with morons - the gimp is always the boss.
I ordered a beer quickly and got the bottle ready in my fist.
Before I even got to crack him in the head the gimp said, “Hey, what’s the matter, you don’t like our music?”
I looked at my friend. He held up his cell phone and I gave him the nod. That means dial 911, we’re going to need an ambulance. He dialed.
“Look,” I said politely, “We just walked in. Can’t you give me just a few minutes to warm up?”
“Yeah?” he replied, truly to stupid for words, “Well you know what?”
“No, what?” I asked, plainly.
“Your girl here is a dog.” He snorted, scratched his head and added, “My friend says she looks like a whore! How’s that?”
“That’s swell,” I replied with restrain. I figured we had a couple of minutes of this kind of thing before the ambulance showed. If I said something to piss him off his friends would have made a taco out of me on the spot.
“Yeah?” he smirked, turning to his friends to make sure they weren’t lost.
“…And?” I asked.
“And you, you little shit! You’re a little shit!” His voice pulled way up at the end of the word, he strained the muscles in his neck to say it. He was up on tippy-toes.
“You’re a stupid, cheap, ugly, little shit and your girlfriend is ugly - and your friends are a bunch of wimps!”
“Ok...” I said. The time had come. I had the bottle in swing position and the comforting sound of sirens came to me from off in the distance.
“Don’t hurt my feelings,” I said, leaning in on the gimp.
He looked me up and down. His friends got up and stood behind him.
“Oh yeah!” he shouted, searching, “You’re girl is a whore… You - you stupid shit! – You stupid bald shit!”
That caught me by surprise. “BALD?”
I raised the bottle. The ambulance came screeching up to the door.
I leapt off the stool.
It took about five minutes for them to get me off him. Meanwhile the big guys made a pretzel out of me from above, but I wouldn’t let go of the little guy. The cops were there, the ambulance was waiting and my friends had moved outside for safety. When they finally pulled me out of the bar it was on a stretcher. I could have tried to walk but why fight the pain? When you’re beat you’re beat.
The cops were trying to figure out whom to cuff. The local boys weren’t being razzed to hard. They seemed to think that I was the troublemaker. That was apparent as they loaded me into the ambulance.
My wife tried to climb in but the cops stopped her.
“Are you ok?” she asked, a little disgusted.
“How’s the little guy?” I said, with a broken smile. “I think I made him swallow that bottle.”
“You’re going to have to stop this you know.”
“Me? Me?” I said, stunned at the accusation.
“You can’t keep getting in fights because some jerk says something to you.”
“Did you hear what he said? You heard what he said! Let me up!”
“If you try to get up they’re going to cuff you.”
“I heard the little guy call that big cop Uncle Frank,” she said with a nod to the cop car.
“That’s not good, is it?”
“But he called me bald...”
“Yeah, and he called me a whore…” She said, inspecting the fingernails on her left hand.
“I know,” I replied, “but calling me bald..?”
She turned her attention to the other hand and remained silent.
“I’m not bald, am I? Not completely bald …Right?”
They slipped me into the ambulance. Two cops climbed in with me. They didn’t look pleased. One of them had his handcuffs out.