You can make elaborate preparations for the perfect party, with professional musicians and catered food but if there's a turd floating in the punch bowl, it's the only thing people will talk about. The troubling reality of life on Earth is that serenity is hard to come by and very easily shattered.

I noticed this phenomenon early on and grew to admire people who stood up to the turds, flung them from the punch bowl and saved the shindig. I wanted to grow up to be a cross between Clint Eastwood and Kwai Chang Caine, wandering from scene to scene, dealing with the scoundrels.

As I got older I realized that even though Clint Eastwood and Kwai Chang Caine fought the good fight, they rarely got the girl. Confronting idiots might be better accomplished with tact and gentle persuasion, I thought, more like Gandhi or Cary Grant.

I reached a crucial turning point in my life the day I discovered that it wasn't my job to punish every idiot I came across. I was sitting at the bar, talking to a grizzled old dude, when some unpleasantness erupted around the pool table. An angry drunk called some woman "the C word" and she was extracting her vengeance on his hair. The drunken man had a look on his face that seemed to imply increasing violence so I stood from my stool to intervene.

The old man I was talking to clutched my arm above the elbow and held me in place as though he was a stern father and I was a grabby little kid in the grocery store. He had to be eighty years old and his grip was as strong as a weight lifter's.

"You don't need to mess with that, son. That's none of your concern."

I was having trouble breaking free of the grip of a little old man so I doubted I'd add much to the cause of chivalry. I returned to my barstool and watched the spectacle from a safe distance. The drunken man was enduring a horrific hair pulling when he abandoned his last fiber of decency and began punching the woman in the stomach.

I rose from my stool again and this time the old guy put the real death grip on my arm. The first time he did it hard enough to leave a bruise but now his wrinkled old hand was threatening my skeletal integrity.

"He'll find his own lightning, you'll see."

At that moment the woman grabbed a beer bottle and hit the guy hard on the side of the head. It wasn't like in the movies where the bottle shatters and the guy gets up and resumes the fight. The Budweiser bottle didn't break and the guy didn't get up at all. He was pretty much immobile until the ambulance arrived.

"Told ya."


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