Fighting… cause I have issues

Pat Davis admits to his issues, and gives a rip-roaring trip through his life’s 35-40 fist fights in his self-published book Fightey-Town.1 I am four chapters into the book and feel that the book is exactly geared toward my demographic. Not a lot of women are going to find the humor and male (backwardass) self-evaluation interesting or entertaining. Those of us “men” who have known a violent streak will get it completely. This is no self-masturbatory glorification of violence, and unlike Tucker Max’s dribble, this is not a self-indulgent attempt to garner attention. Fightey-Town is story telling that only guys, after a few beers, are capable of delivering to their buddies with a combination of “no shit, it happened just like this” and “I am such a dumb ass” aplomb.

Fightey-Town is a just book about fights as much as Rush Limbaugh is just an “entertainer.” Fightey-Town is one man’s attempt to understand his violence, his almost instinctual willingness to participate in violence, and the costs, pleasures, and pain associated with this violence. However, sometimes fighting is exactly what is needed.

I have a good friend (Keith) who once said to me2 “Sometimes full-grown men need to settle their differences through physical confrontation. Sometimes a point needs to be made in a manner that is unquestionably succinct.” Good advice that has stuck with me over the years, and coupled with Pat Davis’ Fightey-Town, I now sit here thinking about the fights I have witnessed, participated in, avoided, and wonder if I have learned in any lessons. I imagine there are things we learn and not aware of, and there are things we learn and apply in our daily travels. I wouldn’t say I was a violent child,3 but I did like guns, toy soldiers, and G.I. Joe dolls as a kid. I wouldn’t say I am a violent man, but I did spend ten years of my life in the military training for and participating in violence. My main issue has always been that I have a very loud and obnoxious voice and I have never feared expressing myself or my thoughts. If you go through life saying what you think, there are going to be times when you will have to take an ass-beating, or dispense one. Part of growing up is being honest with oneself and realizing you are never as smart or great as you imagine. So in total intellectual honesty, here are a few life rules I have learned related to fighting.

– getting your ass kicked is never as emotionally/mentally painful as imagined

It had to be around 1976 and I was in the second grade when I participated in (and lost) my first fight. I don’t remember what it was about, and I can’t remember the other boy’s name. I don’t even remember what my tiny pugilist opponent looked like. I do know it took place in Idar Oberstein, Germany, I was in the second grade, and the playground behind my apartment building is where we fought. The reason for the fight totally escapes me, but I know I came home from school upset and was told to go “settle” it by my parents. With limited remembering, I have forgotten how I lost the fight, and the only crystal clear memory I have is having my opponent on top of me hitting me repeatedly. Amazingly, I don’t think his punches hurt but I know my pride was toughened. If I had not confronted my opponent I would have just been postponing the inevitable.

Later in junior high I remember attempting to bluff and bluster a fellow guy in class. He had enough of my shit and delivered a forceful blow to my diaphragm. No other punch was delivered, and I know I threw no punch. I can remember the way air exhaled forcibly from my lungs and the shame related to my inappropriate actions that led to this fight. Getting my ass kicked (in a single blow) wasn’t what hurt, it was my own stupidity for starting the fight. Ass beatings hurt, but the shame and stupidity of causing them, or avoiding them, hurt worse.

– people sometimes ask for an ass beating and only an ass beating will stop them from continuing to ask for them

David was the type of guy who constantly bugged people and picked fights. Constantly irritating people and practically daring them to punch him. David knew what he was doing, and David was a runner. Every day, David B. would sprint home after 6th grade to avoid the deserved dialy ass beating. I never beat David’s ass, but I witnessed a superior apportionment of justice one day. David had pestered Eddie to the point that Eddie was no longer going to let a fleet-footed pest get away. Eddie caught David about 75 meters from the front steps of our middle school. Eddie was quick (he pitched on my little league team and he was all legs and arms) and even though David had perfected his escape route, Eddie caught him. Eddie had no problem getting David down into the typical ball of fear. All of Eddie’s arms and legs were a flurry. I stood amazed, because of course I had followed David and Eddie out the school door.4 What I remember most about this event is the sound of David’s voice. David wasn’t pleading for mercy, but his high-pitched yelps were in recognition of his repeated mistake of bringing someone else’s fury upon his head. David was repeatedly screaming “oh no! not again!” over and over. David knew what he had done and knew he deserved it. Eddie did not stop for what seemed like a long time.

Upon finishing his business, Eddie stood and walked away without staying a word. David pulled himself up, and stumbled home crying. David never pestered or picked a fight again. I have always remembered how David never begged Eddie to stop beating him, David just vocalized his realization of how it was happening again, and would happen again if David didn’t do some serious personality changes.

– if you are going to fight, go in hard and quick and there is no shame in throwing the first punch

Specifics about time and place will be omitted because I am slightly ashamed in admitting that this was a fight that happened when I was an adult. Regardless of time and place, sometimes opponents believe that a public place is a safe haven from an ass beating, this is not sure bet… especially if the public place is a bar and you are bothering a person with a short temper. I would like to say that alcohol loosened my restraint, but that would be a lie. I didn’t like this guy and knew him fairly decently. In one of those weird situations where a group of people are at a bar and acquaintances of the group are also about, I ended up sitting at a small bar table with this guy. I had not gone to the bar with this guy, but because he knew me and the group I was with, he had joined us. The more this guy talked the more angry I became. He knew what he was doing and continued to needle and pick at me. He felt safe. Finally, after listening to about an hour of his bullshit, I informed him that if he said one more thing about “X” I was going to beat his ass. Naturally, the guy assumed that I was full of shit and repeated his comment about “X.”

Later my friends informed me about how entertaining it was to see me leap (ever so lightly) over the table and punch the guy while in flight. I have no ninja moves, and my fighting skills are limited to sheer force of will and an ability to take a few punches (usually) before I sulk away. However, this flying ninja punch was one of my glorious fighting moments. While in mid table leap (supposedly) I struck one quick right jab to the asshole’s left eye. As I landed on his side of the table, he was falling backwards. One punch and the fight was over. It happened so quickly that very few people, other than a few in my group and one waitress,5 witnessed my Chuck Norris attack. The asshole quickly stood up, looked at me, looked at the group and then walked away. The asshole never talked to me again, but my right hand was bruised for about a week and I was fortunate that I wasn’t arrested. My inner ninja (which I didn’t know existed) had come forth and allowed me to settle a dispute quickly and in sort of a stealth manner.

– Never fight crazy, especially if it’s related to road rage

I was 22, had a brand new Ford truck, and was returning to my apartment in Nashville one summer afternoon following a morning of college classes. Another Tennessee-tagged truck cut me off on an exit ramp. In a wise move of showing displeasure in this douche bag’s driving style, I gave him the middle finger. Upon seeing my sign of disrespect and displeasure, the Dbag immediately slammed on his brakes. I screamed to a stop, and as my heart raced, I began to wonder why I had allowed this guy to enter my reality. People cut other people off all the time, and here I was suddenly finding myself in a situation where I had no idea who (or what) I was dealing with. Tennesseans in trucks are the type of people who drive armed and I had now engaged a possibly armed redneck. After sitting there dumbfounded for a few seconds, the Dbag drove on. I followed, but ensured that I kept a distance. If the idiot was willing to cause an accident over a middle finger, I knew the idiot was potentially willing to go even more into crazy land. I scanned other lanes but I was unable to find a way around this guy. Unfortunately I was still behind the Dbag at the next light, and I was amazed to see a large middle-aged redneck exit his truck while we were stopped at the light. The ball-capped crazy calmly began walking back to my truck but stopped. It seemed his better judgement caught him, and then he turned on his heels and got back in his truck. Better judgement had escaped me though, and once I saw he was back in his truck, I proceeded to signal (once again) my displeasure with him by extending my middle finger. I have no idea why I was now egging this guy on, and I would like to say that I thought I could take him, but no… I was just a fucking idiot. Maybe I had assumed that nothing would happen since we were sitting at a traffic light in public. I was wrong, and I was a stupid idiot for continuing this engagement. Upon seeing my second bird, the redneck once again got out of his truck. The light had turned green, but no one was moving and no one was honking. I assume they were expecting to see a good ass beating and no one rushes through a light when a potential ass beating is about to happen.

The redneck didn’t turn on his heels this time, instead he stomped to the side of my truck and open palmed slapped my chest (hard) through my open window. I guess I could have closed the window, but this redneck seemed pretty damn determined in teaching me a lesson, and a closed window wasn’t going to stop him. As the air rushed out of my chest I realized that I had antagonized a person that should have been left alone (even though his driving ettiquette left a lot to be desired). Mr. Big Redneck said nothing after hitting my chest and strolled back to his truck and drove off. I followed slowly and thanked the little plastic baby Jesus that he hadn’t shot me or punched my face instead. Anyone willing to fight at a green light over another idiot’s middle finger is best left alone. I drove home wondering who was the bigger idiot, me or him, and determined I was the bigger one. Never… ever engage crazy.

I don’t advocate fighting, nor do I particularly enjoy watching violence. I don’t think I am a fighter to fear, but I have learned how to accept my stupidity along with some ass beatings. I don’t condone violence, but I comprehend (and have participated) in physical violence between men. Nowadays, I attempt to avoid situations where an ass beating may result because of stupidity, but hope if it happens (and I am there) that my “famous”6 ninja skills will return. Pat Davis understands what I am talking about.

1. And one “fight” where he does nothing more than shove a peanut in his girlfriend’s nose after she repeatedly bitch slaps him on a cross-country flight turned domestic abuse.

2. Following a verbal confrontation I participated in that was on the cusp of becoming a full-blown fist fight… when I was a fucking 28 year-old Captain in the US Army. Full grown men may not have the market cornered on juvenile activities, but if there was no juveniles, full-grown men would make up for it with their stupidity.

3. I never picked on the weak, I never tortured small animals, and I never did anything that could have be construed as evil.

4. I was a little slow catching up, I have never been graced with long sprinting legs… I have short, squatty bogtrotter legs and they never move fast.

5. Who scolded me in Korean for fighting. I knew it was a scolding because she raised her voice and shook a finger in my face. Never ever pick a fight with a Korean waitress, they are not scared of you.

6. I am still friends (Keith) with one of the group who was present for my ninja moment and he likes to bring the story up in mixed company after a few beers. I probably should feel some shame, but I get a little bit of pride when I hear him retell it, over, over, and over.

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