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November 19, 2007

Saturday Night's All Right

I don't know what was going on this past Saturday night. I myself witnessed three street fights, two in front of Nectar's and one in front of Mr. Mikes. Was it something in the air, the water, the moon, the stars? It is uncanny how Burlington seems to express a group energy. Some nights are all peace, love and understanding; others it's downtown Baghdad, outside of the Green Zone.

Most so-called bar fights might originate within the confines of a bar but quickly spill out onto the street. Hence the term "bar bouncer": these guys are trained to "bounce" the warring parties out of the premises. The city of Burlington strictly enforces it's liquor laws so the bar owners do everything in their power to subdue the combatants. Too many fights, out-and-out brawls or fights resulting in serious injury, and the bar is looking at a suspended license.

As a long-time observer of bar fights, I have two points to make.

First, it's never about money, sport teams, politics or religion. Men (and these altercations are 99.9% testosterone-fueled male affairs) may argue, even vehemently, about all sorts of things, but they only come to blows about one thing: women. These fights are always over the girl.

Second, when one of these fisticuffs break-out, it looks nothing like anything you've ever seen on TV or in a movie, or, for that matter, in a boxing ring. Regular guys fighting in the street are like two cobras going at it, throwing punches as fast and furiously as they can. There's no technique involved, just throw, throw, throw and aim for the other's guy's head. It's ugly.

The last fight of the night was the worst of all. I was idling in front of Mr. Mikes Pizza at two in the morning, awaiting a couple of students. Suddenly, like a human tsunami, two guys come hurtling out the door, locked in a desperate embrace. In the frigid night air, they began wailing on each other - nose, eyes, neck, wham, blam, slam.

I threw my taxi in gear and shot up to Church Street where, late night, you can always find a couple police officers. Pulling up parallel to a cruiser, I honked, lowered my passenger window and shouted, "Bad fight at Mr. Mikes. There's two guys really goin' at it!"

The officer said, "Thanks," clicked on the blue lights and called for back-up. Fifteen seconds later, I watched him screech to a stop in front of the restaurant and jump out. A minute later, back-up arrived and the phalanx of cops managed to break it up.

And here's my guilty confession:  A part of me loves watching these fights. From the very beginning - the traded insults, the posturing, the shoves - to the bloody denouements, I'm transfixed. The last fight in which I was a participant took place in fifth grade. Yes, it was over a girl, and, yes, I lost.

November 19, 2007 at 02:38 PM in A Cabdriver's World | Permalink


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I have never, ever gotten into a fist fight...especially over a girl. Knowing me, you understand that statement is a tad rhetorical. Jernigan, I abhor physical violence in the flesh (i.e.-real life). I can play shoot-em-up games all day long and not care. When I see it for real...I get a knot in my stomach and feel sick. Ever seen a bar fight in front of 135 Pearl? :)

Posted by: AustinDriveGuy | Nov 19, 2007 4:20:17 PM

Man, ADG, Pearl's was a nice place, wasn't it? Maybe it's a statement about Burlington's inclusivity and tolerance that the town no longer requires, let's say, a specifically gay and lesbian bar.

Anyway, I do remember one fight at Pearl's. But, generally speaking, I think gay folk are just a little more evolved in this way and not so prone to violence.

Posted by: Jernigan Pontiac | Nov 19, 2007 5:00:37 PM

I dunno, I've heard about more than a few incidents at Pearl's.

I've been in my share of altercations, mostly when I was a kid. The only time I was in a bar fight was at Metronome about 10 years ago. And it was sort of about a girl, actually.

I was single at the time, dancing with my friend (a girl) and this big guy and his girlfriend started dancing next to us. The guy sort of muscled his way into my space, and kept bumping into me. At some point, I shoved him a little.

He turned around and called me a "fucking dyke," which, ok, I am (and I was more identifiable as such back then because I had recently shaved my head). I think he put me in a headlock, and dumped a beer on me, then I threw a drink at him.

Very quickly people were holding us apart, and I heard somebody say, "Don't touch her, it's a hate crime!"

I have to admit, I was ready to hit the guy, and would not have been too sorry to have gotten into with him. I was in that kind of mood.

Then this girl came up to me, tugged on my sleeve and said, "you dumped my drink. That was $3."

Suddenly I remembered where I was, what I was doing and how stupid it would be for me to fight this big burly guy. So I handed the girl a $5 bill and slunk out of there before the bouncer could get through the crowd.

Then I went to 135 Pearl, and a girl ran her hand through my short, beery hair and said it was sexy. So... it all worked out in the end.

Posted by: Cathy Resmer | Nov 20, 2007 8:58:57 AM

Wow, Cathy - that is one good story! I'm surprised you didn't deck that guy. Weren't you kind of a tough chick back in the day?

Posted by: Jernigan Pontiac | Nov 20, 2007 12:57:37 PM

What do you mean, "back in the day" ?????

Cathy is one tough chi-- ... er ... WOMAN now!! (never call a tough chick a chick. She'll just might deck ya!!

P.S. Great story Cathy. You have any more??

Posted by: anon | Nov 21, 2007 9:35:34 AM

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