Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chapter 10 Learning to Fight.

Chapter 10. Learning to fight

There is one aspect of working at the bar that scares me shitless. I guess that sentence is wrong, I mean, I have a distinct fear that I will shit myself at various times of the day, not that it has happened. I more specifically fear shitting myself in a work situation that may possibly arise working at a bar. I don't like the idea of having to be confrontational in general. I will wear headphones without any music playing at the gym just so people don’t talk to me. Men have a tendency at the gym to walk up to each other, men they may not even know at the gym and instead of saying “hi” they have to tell each other about their workout regiment, even though no on ever asks. It always sounds like, “Hey man. What you doing here? Working out the Pecs today, was out of the gym for a while… the flu, injured my back pretending to be a much younger man, lifting way too heavy of weight, but now I’m back.”

Me, “I’m working on solving global peace, that do you think I’m doing? It’s a gym, I’m working off my daddy issues like everyone else!”

Sorry for that long tangent. Back to what scares me shitless, well at least one of the scenarios. Like I was saying I don’t like to be confrontational if I don’t have to. I was bullied a lot as a child and don’t feel like I need to play the battle of who has the bigger balls with other guys. When entering a bar, specifically one that you work at, one needs to be ready to defend themself. You never know when a fight will break out. I’m in San Francisco for god sakes, land of the passive-aggressive. 90 Percent of the time, here, and fights tend to be non-physical and consist off passive-aggressive eye rolling with attitude. The last thing one thinks they will have to do here is speak up for themselves, the way the rest of the world does. Unfortunately, in a bar situation you can’t always talk people down with a nice condescending political debate or joint induced conversation about who killed Kurt Cobain (even though we all know the answer). Ideally, in the unlikely situation that I will have to kick someone out of the Labyrinth, I hope that I am surrounded by hot muscular men, of who are ready to jump in and fight for me. They will want to do the dirty work for me cause that’s what the hot muscled men in fantasies do, along with heavy lifting around the house and sweating. The truth is those guys only hang out with me in my dreams and even though it looks like we are fighting in these dreams I must admit that it’s all consensual, but I digress.

Back to the bar. Gina is doing what she does best, yapping and making a round of drinks. Right as she pours the drinks, this drunk guy walks by and knocks over all the drinks she is making so that they spill all over her. At this second her face changes from it’s usual shade of perfectly-baked tan to a red that can only described as maxi-pad red-tan. As a gay man, I am saying this by assumption and what I have pieced together from a life of sharing bathrooms with women, but it’s still gross. Word to the wise, do not under any circumstances piss off a lesbian, it never ends well. The guy has a body shape similar to that of a Mr.Chaz Bono (ex-Chastity Bono). His belly looks like what I assume an industrial-sized Jello bowl looks like. He is I guess more of a summo-wrestler type. You can see the cheese beneath his boulder thighs. He is wearing a dog chain around his neck and has a striking resemblance to a one aging Mr. T. Little does he know, that one should never piss off a lesbian, especially Gina. They will make sure you pay and get what’s coming to you. She is so angered she snaps for me, the way they do in movies when they need backup. I am not quick to figure out what she means by this snap, so I just stand there baffled. She then nudges me points in the direction of the drunk dude and tells me to kick the drunken mess out. Being her servant, barback for the evening, I stop and think of how I will get this guy out of the bar. I also start to wonder how such a large person could fit through the doors of the bar. I also wonder if when he goes on airplanes, does he need to purchase 2-3 seats? This guy is like three-of the mom from “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” in one.

Gina’s selective butchness kicks into high-gear once a shift, where she usually ends up kicking drunken messes out when we need her to. This time, she tells me that it’s my turn to be the man of the group. Why should I have to be the man of the group if I have a butch lesbian? We all know about their elusive super powers that the lesbian as a species poses. Gina, for example has tits that could distract any warm-blooded gay man, let alone a straight dude. Even a Vulcan at one glance of her tits may all of a sudden break into emotion. Besides the tits, butch lesbians have this intense strength that I don't understand or question. I know better. They know to balance this strength much better than men too. Maybe it’s the estrogen? I assume it's because they never get penetrated by men, they have a heightened sense of adrenaline that pumps through their bodies at all times. I assume that this is why straight men are so threatened by the true lesbian. They can make any grown man look like a little pussy or I guess a better word choice may be, a little schmuck. They can fight you, take your woman, and get her to always have a real orgasm (I don't think that women should have any reason to lie about that stuff with each other). This is all my assumption though, lesbianism is as confusing and foreign to me as the straight fist-bump, which I assume is what lesbian sex is like.

While Gina’s logic is true, I have never really had to confront another man in that way and tell them to leave an establishment. I have until now exclusively been in little quarrels and “you mamma” contents, but nothing like this.

While as a child I was picked on A LOT, I always dodged the fight. I have never really been hit or injured from a fight. I had an unusual obsession with the show “Full House,” and an over-sized head, much like Charlie Brown’s. This was reason enough for bullies to be assholes to me. As a result, I have been threatened to be beaten up many a time in my young life. I have never really been in any major physical confrontations though. In my dreams though, I have imagined that in the right situation I will reach into what I learned from years of playing "Mortal Combat." The truth is that in reality, I would need a controller to do the things I could do in that game.

Often the “lets fight,” Neanderthal-ish threats turned out to be harmless. Once some kid threw their yogurt at me while I was leaving school. This, to me was fight enough. After being mortified, when I got home, I washed the strawberry yogurt out of my hair and then ate a gallon of strawberry ice cream to heal the pain and called it a day.

Once, at camp, a counselor sent me to tell this kid, Wes, that it was time to get his Ritalin. His response was to stab me in the leg with a pencil and then try to battle me to the death. I was so shocked by his response I didn’t know what to do. I immediately followed what I had seen on Ricky Lake and pulled his hair until he screamed for mercy, but that was barely a fight.
I ask the fat fuck, I mean large fellow, nicely if he will walk out with me to the exit since he has had too much to drink and maybe needs some “fresh air.” His response is of course less nice. Then my slutty co-worker who will remain nameless has to kick people out he will whisper into their ears, “come out side, I'll show you my dick." And that usually works. I am more timid and shy though. Once outside he leaves the drunks high and dry. If only I was that smart.

Doushy Mc Dousy informs me on how I am “a little faggot mouse” who has now right tell him what to do. Who calls someone else a fag in a gay bar? That’s like calling someone fat at a Weight Watcher’s meeting, asking for a riot. WHAT?! I am infuriated. I am so angry that I'm steaming inside, but outside I can't talk. Not knowing what to do, I just freeze not sure of what my next move should be or what to say. Then Gina comes right up from behind the guy, puts her arms around him in what looked like an old fashioned bear-hug, while restraining his arms down. She then walks in a waddling fashion, similar to the way one walks when concealing a fart. She waddles with him to the door while keeping his arms tight to him. She leaves him outside of the door with the doorman and then tells me that next time she won’t be there to help.

The concept of even possibly getting into a fight makes me think about how my father always makes me spar with him even as an adult. It’s been this way ever since I was a small child. Sparring is another term for practicing boxing, punching a given hand, item or punching bag. This is a great self-esteem strengthening exercise for an awkward kid like me. Little do I realize how this practice will come in handy when I will be dealing with drunken assholes for a living. This will lay the bricks for many things later on in my life. It is like an informal training on how to “handle it” as my good friend Tracy would say. My dad always explains it like this, “one day you’ll be walking down the street with a hot girl and some guy picks a fight with you. What will you do? Chat it out? Compromise? No, you’ll hit him harder than he can hit you and look good in front of your girl.” Such simple cut and dry logic.

My dad always fancies himself to be this amazing boxer much in the way that others dream of being a rockstar. He has an unusual obsession with boxers, their world and life they live. He idolizes boxing legends like Mike Tyson (before the ear bite), Lenix Louis, Mohamad Ali. According to him, some of these guys are on par or equivalent to modern day gods. He replays Tyson’s fights any time he needs inspiration or something to do. I have consequently seen every Mike Tyson fight at least 3 bazillion times. Where I fall asleep to “Golden Girls” and “Roseanne,” he falls asleep to the fights.

Living in the city of Angels, my muscular father is like most Southern California men. He is obsessed with going to the gym and making sure that people know he does such. He references the gym at least one time per conversation when he is feeling right, usually while lighting a cigarette. The difference is his preference of gym. My 5’7, fair-skinned, four-eyed, bald-head father travels to Compton and workout at this place call the Broadway Gym. Dad says that he can’t go to another gym because real men don’t workout there. Apparently he needs a Rocky Balboa type to workout there or a man with tears tattoo on his face working out at a gym to feel like he fits in.

The Broadway gym is the one and only place were my father seems to feel at ease, something that will take me years to understand. He is always worried about life’s daily struggles, money, his relationships, possible mistakes of the present and past, the list goes on. This is the only place where he has real control of his life. As an adult I can still clearly remember him making me go with him so that I could “watch him workout”. This is similar to the episode of the “Simpsons” where Homer makes Bart look at the Virginia Slims ad for hours to make him feel more machesmo-ish. The gym is his way of showing me how men are supposed to be. Even though my dad always tries to be close to me, we never really connect in the way he hopes. The gym though is his time to show me his concept masculinity and tries to extend it as a role model. While I couldn’t grasp this concept as a child, now I understand the point of watching him box with other beefy men, beating eachother’s brains out. Mostly, it just made me want a beefy, sweaty man of my own to play with, but that is not really the point. Boxing proved to be just another one of life’s million games where men work on proving who has the bigger balls. Boxing though, seems more interesting and more skillful than other games of this nature. It’s definitely more interesting than watching a guy show off their ridiculous sports car. At least with boxing, you are the only person the boxer can blame for getting beat up is himself.
I will always remember my father in this specific way. Him rolling up to the Broadway gym while blaring his hip-hop or hard gangsta’ rap, loud enough for people to hear he was coming. As he would get out of the car, he of course then takes out a Benson Ultra-Light, his cigarette of choice. Maybe swig a sip of water, which in his case was always a coke or seven-up and then ask me to grab. I am always about 2 feet behind him like a golf-cattie carrying his bag. An ironic side-note about Russian immigrants, incase one has never had the delight of being raised by them as I have. All the families like us that I know, they always refer to sodas of any kind as water. Generally, drinking pure, crystal-clear water is considered unusual. Even plain water would have alca-seltzerish bubbles simply because that’s what they are us to from the motherland that treat them like prisoners, but we digress.

As a child, I have no clue that the Broadway Gym is in the city of Compton and known for being a bad area. This is my dad’s version of a country club, so I never really think about it. While he looks like the odd man out there to most onlookers, it is here that he feels he belongs. As he puts out his cigarette on his shoe, my dad’s voice drops 3 octives lower and he then begins to swagger, much like JJ on “Good Times” or LLCool J. He then grabs my hand and is greet by this big bald black man who goes by the name B-bell. He is about 35 years older than, and balding like my young father. The few hairs on his head, are grey and slicked down so much that the wind can’t make a dent. This man always treats me like I was his own grandchild. As a child he always has handed me a jump rope and treated me like I was training for the Olympics or a big Vegas fight. B, is an ex-famous boxer, friends with the greats during the time of Ali and the “rumble in the jungle.” His place here is to be the mentor for up and coming boxers and those who need fatherly guidance. He is like the trainer from “Rocky.” He even has a slightly east coaster way of talking. He is a father to the fatherless of Compton’s Broadway gym.

In this gym they have these rows of seats, much like the benches one may see in church, which was perfect since this was my dad’s church. I will always remember sitting there, watching my dad going back and forth, between punching 2 different bags, one the size of a human, and the other, a little one above his head, he seems happier than I have ever seen him. This is his time to show off and be proud. He always waits for me to look over and applaud. Every now and again he will stop and chat with someone about old fighting-scars from knife fights and so-on, but that again is his way of showing me what he thinks men do. Fights, exaggerated talk about sex and making fun of those who can’t get it. In between these conversations, he then looks up to see that I am still happily watching him. He then tells whoever he was talking to, that I am there to watch and soon will start to spar myself. At which point, I am be half-asleep, dreaming about things that most boys seem not to, with a ribbon of drool soaking my shirt, then I would wake up, wave and go back to it.

My dad, generally is not a very outgoing person as the way most people know him. The ring is the only time he will step up and let is hair down, so-to-speak since he lost most of it at 26 when his father died. In the ring is when I learn the most valuable lesson he has ever taught me, how to strive and defend myself. This is the only time that I don’t fall asleep is when he is in the ring ready to fight another human being and does just that. Watching, I don’t realize how much of this brutal, savage and somewhat complex sport I am absorbing. My dad is very observant, always practicing his opponent’s next move before they made it and then combating by doing the opposite or hitting them first. Maybe this is what has and always will get me out of major fights?

I use my intuitive senses to use conversations as a means of badgering bullies instead of actually hitting them, this in turn to make a bully tired. This way they don’t have the energy to fight like my father does with his fists. He plays the game as he talk the other person down, like any good fighter does.

Once I start at the bar, I don’t realize that I will have to at times be the security of the bar. I would have to play the battle of the bigger balls via my speech and way of holding myself. Me, at a statuesque 5’8, 5’7 and ¾ in actuality, responsible for kicking out guys the size of houses and drunks ready to beat up anyone within a square foot of them. The second time I have to ask a guy to leave the bar, he tells little old me that I was am a kid and he knows when he’s had enough to drink. Then I inform him that I am sorry, but he is done drinking for the night and should leave. He then tries to swing a punch at me, I duck as my father does in these situations in the ring and the guy hits the brick-wall behind me. This fist is now scraped and bloodied. I then tell him that we can take it outside but now that he had tried to hit me, I have every right to defend myself, not only physically, but also make sure that he is taken to a drunk tank. The mix of poor reflexes and lack of words make him slowly walk out. This was just one of over 2,000 similar stories. Every time I have to kick someone out, my voice for some reason travels down around 3 octives and the adrenaline takes over. It’s as though I channel my father every time someone picks a fight with me.

Every time I need an extra shift, I end up being the bar’s door man on and off for about 3 years. The ironic thing is that I am one of the few to make it without a single scratch. I use the tools and ghetto-know how that my father has provided me with. If not for my father, I couln’t defend myself the way I do. I make it through these times without fear because of him. My father is the only light-complexioned man I know who during the famous LA riots is stuck buying a pack of cigarettes right in the middle of it all. The same man that since grade school tells me that, “if anyone fucks with you, hit them back 2 times harder.” Even though he is absent from many of my childhood memories, his tools for defense are ones that will always help me become a stronger man in the long-run and in turn even stronger knowing I won’t need use these skills. I can keep them safely stowed in my back pocket for emergencies. It was like that condom in the wallet that many guys keep there just incase but never use because they aren’t sure how long it’s been there, but feel empowered knowing they have it just in case. It’s things we don’t necessarily know if and when we’d need them, but feel good knowing we are prepared.

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