In Defense of the Fistfight
In Defense of the Fistfight
Why one lippy hippie named Jericho made one writer resolve to start punching jerks again.
By Chris Jones (more from this author)
This whole thing started -- or maybe it ended -- with these guys engaging in some ritualistic, Hare Krishna clapping ****. They were sitting at a table across the bar from my buddy Phil and me. We were trying to enjoy a quiet pint in our quiet local on a quiet evening, but these hippies wouldn't quit with their clapping. Swear to God, they might as well have been crashing cymbals in my ears.
I asked them politely to stop. "Make us," they said, and then they clapped louder, smiling their dirty-toothed smiles at us, twisting our nipples. One of them was named Jericho, I picked up. He was a skinny bearded guy who looked as though he'd wear Guatemalan mittens in winter. "Jerry," I said when they finally took a break, "come on over here, have a chat." He did, and shortly thereafter, he loosed a throat pony into my face. It was Jerry's bad luck that I had resolved to start punching people again.
It wasn't a snap decision. I'd reached the end of the road after what seemed like a perpetual assault from life's Jerichos -- the sorts of assholes who not only act like assholes but celebrate their assholedom: the grease spot who gave me the forearm shiver in our recreational soccer league and said, "It's a man's game, bitch"; the walnut-headed midlife crisis in his convertible who cut me off and then gave me the finger. It felt like they had me surrounded, clapping in concentric circles. I mean, Jesus, a skinny bearded hippie named after a biblical city had just spit in my face.
How'd we get here? Blogs are part of it, along with the incessant frothing of TV pundits and reality-show contestants, especially that lippy midget from The Amazing Race: Everybody thinks they're above being edited. And the saddest part is, the Jerichos are right to feel bulletproof. Somewhere along the way, we've evolved into a culture without consequence, taught so much hokum about the bigger man walking away. Yet to appease us, we've also been told that what goes around comes around. What kind of contradictory horseshit is that -- that one day, accounts will be settled, but by the universe? I like karma as much as the next guy, but lately, watching my city behave more and more like an Internet comments thread in the midst of a flame war, I've grown tired of waiting for the planets to balance the ledger. It's like we've started playing hockey without the enforcers, and all the scrubs are tripping up the skaters with impunity. You know why Wayne Gretzky could be Wayne Gretzky? Because everybody knew that Dave "Cementhead" Semenko would fill you in if you fucked with his friend.
Too bad life changes when we take off our skates -- constrained by fear of cops, by fear of lawyers, by fear of the wife, all of our judges. Not anymore. I would submit, Your Honor, that if someone is doing something demonstrably asinine, and I ask them to stop it, please, and they say, "Make us," they've entered a binding oral contract whereby I am permitted, even obligated, to try to make them.
And so, before I wiped his spit off my face, I grabbed Jericho by his beard and dragged him outside. By the time I had him squared up, I saw all that I needed to see to know that I'd found a new habit: the regret on his once-smiling face. I was surprised by how good it felt, and I stopped for a second, frozen under the streetlights, satisfied that Jericho was about to make like the walls of that bitch city, and that I was about to settle my own accounts.
Not many original thoughts on my part. Just thought the guy had an interesting point, or at least an amusing one.