That other bar fight that did NOT happen

Hello 2 AM.

I find myself not sleeping, again. I can’t really explain why. Too much on my mind, I guess… it happens a lot. And while you would think “go vent on your blog” is an answer, it’s really not. These demons I’ve got to wrestle with on my own, and so there you go… 2 AM comes (again) and I’m sitting awake.

I could work on wrapping up my reread of the Watchmen, but I’m not really in the mood.

I’ve got plenty of “organizing” I need to do (soon), but no, that’s not going to do much more than frustrate me further.

I could work on various pet projects I’ve got in mind, but I’m somewhat limited by the time it is. Maybe if I’m still up later, I’ll work on a few.

No, I think tonight I’ll share the events of Thursday night. [NOTE: this is NOT what's keeping me awake, it's just an anecdote and perhaps sharing it will be cathartic in its own way].

So, Thursday… well, for the last six weeks or so, my wife and I have been making Thursday night a “date night.” She works until 9 PM, so we have a sitter come around 8:30 and I zip out to meet her somewhere for a late dinner.  We’d done the same kind of thing in the summer (on a different night), but since Christmas it’s been Thursdays.

We meet at a local bar, and it’s nice. The same bartender works every Thursday, she recognizes us by now, and we sit at the bar, get a light dinner, have a few drinks, and then we’re home before The Daily Show is on. I usually arrive about a half hour before my wife does, and I just hang out and wait.

Well, this past Thursday, the bar was more crowded than usual. No particular reason, just coincidence I think. I walked in, sat at the bar, and to my right were three guys … being loud. I’m in my 30′s, the bartender’s in her 30′s, these guys were probably 1 in his late 20′s 1 in his 30′s, and one in his 40′s.  I could be wrong, but the important part is that we’re talking all adults, no college students or anything involved.

The three, I’ll call them “dudes,” were going on and on about how the 20-something dude needed to lay down the law with his wife. The standard ignorant “you never admit you’re wrong” / “you don’t need to call and check in with her” garbage that they’d never say if their wives were there. 30-something dude was the loudest of all, giving advice right out of the 1920′s manual of marriage with 40-something dude cheering him on.  Annoying and obnoxious? Yes, but I tried my best to block it out and watched the college basketball on TV.

After about 10 minutes, the conversation turned to the go-go bar they were going to hit next: where it was, how expensive it was, how they needed to drink more here, blah blah blah… . They were pretty liquored-up as it was, and loud.. but again – ignorable.

So, then the bartender comes by to wait on someone who’d just come to the bar next to me, and the dudes began to whisper. Not real whispers, but that drunken loud whisper that’s full volume+. They were talking about the bartender, and what they would do to her if she wasn’t such a b**ch.

Now, I don’t even know this bartender’s name, but I think she’s really nice. She’s exactly what you’d want your bartender to be if you owned a bar… knowledgeable, nice but not flirty, and tough enough to hold her own without getting complaints. I’m sure she’s dealt with her share of jerks and drunks just fine.

But anyway, these morons started talking about how they’d “take her” and do this to her and that to her. Crass, annoying, but just talk… and although I (and the 20-something woman who’d placed the order next to me) couldn’t help but hear it, the bartender didn’t even know it was going on.

Then 30-something dude starts getting real aggressive.  He’s gonna do it… “dare me… double dare me… ” he’s gonna go around the bar and do something (what doesn’t have to be outlined here, but he was explicit).  He knows he’ll get kicked out or arrested for it, he’s trying to get his buddies to guarantee they’ll bail him out.  More drunken bravado and noise?

Well, out comes $300 “bail money” laid on the bar counter. He’s drinking more, getting louder, 20- and 40-something dudes are calling his bluff… “you don’t think I’m gonna do it, watch me”

I’m giving the short version here, but this is all happening pretty quickly none the less.  And their moving beyond talk to actual planning.  “wait for me outside” etc.,

I’m sitting there trying to decide what to do.  The 20-something woman has gone back to her table, and there’s two other women down the very end of the bar. On the other side of the dudes from me are a couple of small groups, oblivious to what’s being planned. The bar owner, who’s often there, is not there tonight, I think the bartender’s in charge basically.

I think to myself, maybe I’m overreacting. It’s just noise, just talk.  I probably had stupid conversations like that when I was younger and drunk (ummm, not like that, but you get the point).  But I’m concerned. I was a bouncer in a bar back in the day, and I’ve got a pretty good feel for the difference between noise and a real threat. This is bothering me.

Then, I wonder what I can really do.  There’re three of them, I’m one. They haven’t done anything yet, so if I said something or intervene in any way at this point I’m going to be the bad guy. I’ve got my own set of issues, and the last thing I need is to be getting into a bar fight… but still.

The fact the bartender has always been nice to my wife and I is not a factor, and yet it is… I feel protective in a way, but I would even if it were a guy or someone I didn’t know. I’m pleased that she’s old enough to react to anything that happens maturely, not with a flirty deflecting attitude. If these guys do anything, she’s going to kick them out and not worry about her boss’ reaction or how she’ll be perceived.

But still, it’s just noise.

And then 30-something dude gets up. The bartender’s back is turned, the “bail money” is on the bar and has been counted twice… he’s going to make his move and lick her XXXX well, it doesn’t matter what part of her he was going to lick but suffice to say he doesn’t need to lick her at all.

He walks from where he was sitting toward the access to behind the bar, and he’s coming my way. I decide he’s not getting behind the bar. He’s got to turn the corner and walk a total of about 5 stools to me, and then another 6 stools to the access. I’m going to stop him at the access. I don’t know what I’ll do, I’m thinking stepping in front of him and saying “hey, buddy, don’t do it” is probably not going to be enough, but it’s a start, and maybe it draws enough attention that he stops or I get some back up. And, I figure as long as he hits me first, I’m okay.

He comes my way, turns the corner, gets right next to but not past me, and I tense up. I’ve got one foot on the ground. He’s not running or anything, so as soon as he passes me I’m going to get up and catch him before the end of the bar. This probably means tapping his shoulder or grabbing his arm, which could be a problem… but whatever.

He’s behind me, walks one step farther, and as I resign myself to get up, he stops.

Now, I’m not saying he stopped because of me. In fact, as much as I knew what I was doing, he may not have even noticed I did anything. 30-something dude stops and turns to his friends and he’s wuss-ing out. (that’s not the right way to say it…. he’s doing the right thing, but he’s not doing it for the right reasons, he’s doing it because he’s scared… ). Anyway, he scurries (yes, scurries) back to his seat.. and he and the other dudes talk about how “the bartender wants it”.  Ugh.

So now, coincidentally the waitress walks past them, and to my surprise they basically tell her everything they were going to do. She is not in her 30′s. She’s young, and she handles it with the flirty, nervous laughing off that makes things worse sometimes. They have her ear for a good 5 minutes, and she’s trying to handle it by saying how crazy their idea was…. “no, throw them out” I’m thinking.

My wife text messages me to say she’s en route, and I text back something along the lines of “good, can’t wait to see you, hurry ‘cuz I’m close to getting into trouble” I don’t remember exactly, but it was along those lines.

Waitress is still chatting up the dudes, and the bartender comes by and says something to me about how loud they are. I think she can tell I’m agitated but she can’t hear them, only that they’re being loud and obnoxious.  I can’t remember what she said exactly, but it was basically that they’ve got lots to say and I answered “yeah, but it’s about you.”

That got her attention. She signaled her waitress over, who filled her in, and the threat was averted. The dudes got all embarrassed “she’s tattling on us” (I don’t think they had any idea I was involved), but continued to mutter under their breath how “give me 3 weeks and I’ll have her…. blah blah, but that waitress, I can have her now blah blah ” UGH….

Bartender woman (I think I know her name, but I’m not sure) shows her maturity and basically makes it clear it’s time for them to go without actually being rude. She owns the space and shows no sign of being uncomfortable around them, just disdainful towards them (I think she knows one of the guys as a semi-regular, “Tom?”).

At this point my wife arrives. I was not just concerned for the bartender, but I was also nervous of how these tools might react to my wife. I could ignore their comments toward the bartender because she could not hear them, but if they “whispered” about my wife that same way I would have to act.

Thankfully, the dudes were in near retreat mode. On the one hand, it made my wife feel like I was overreacting, as she was only seeing them tail between their legs. But on the other hand, the threat was over.

The bartender assured me later that she could handle herself, and I never doubted that. But had he advanced on her, he would have caught her completely unaware, and it concerned me that they had a premeditated plan for dealing with any consequences of their actions.

So, they left, and my wife and I enjoyed a relaxing late dinner together and it was “date night” as usual.

I think I’m pleased with how I handled myself: what I did, didn’t, and was prepared to do. But, ultimately, it’s all moot as nothing happened in the end.

It’s nearly 3 AM now. This is probably a lengthy narrative. Well, I’ll leave it up there. Was sharing it cathartic? Maybe, we’ll see how I feel later. I don’t get a lot of validation on things like this. You can imagine my wife’s reaction and expectations. And most everyone else was oblivous.

I don’t know. Hahah, cheery. Where’s Elton, I need a moral of the story like we do in our podcasts “don’t go to bars early” or something along those lines. To quote Elton, “cheers.”

Contributed by: Scott Copperman

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One Response to “That other bar fight that did NOT happen”

  1. Pie says:

    Right on! So many people would have just said, “Eh, it doesn’t involve me, I’m staying out of it.” Even though it didn’t come to your getting involved, your intention to stand up for the bartender is admirable!

    Remind me to bring you along next time I go to a bar =) I’ll even buy the first round.

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