The conditions at the Kingston Mines blues club were perfect, that is to say it was smoky, dark and alcohol-fueled. Charlie Love and the Silky Smooth Blues Band had just left the stage and I was finishing off an excellent batch of rib tips and my third vodka tonic of the night. The Mines had become a regular stopping point since one of my best friends had moved into the neighborhood. The combination of sweet blues music, some of the best barbecue in the city, and a laid-back atmosphere made it one of my favorite places to go out. The fact that a night at the Mines was usually special enough to entice even the busiest of my friends merely added to the fun. I was buying another round while The Matthew Skoller Band were setting up their equipment, and I noticed something very unfortunate about the table next to ours: it was filled with assholes.
These guys had been jabbering and cackling all night, but that was just something that needed to be put up with, it didn’t put them into the sphere of full-on asshole-ery that I’m talking about. These guys were clearly over-served and under-sexed, and they had finally noticed that some of the people at my table were not male, thus they assumed there was a non-zero possibility some might be willing to have sex with them. The lead asshole expressed his interest by grabbing my friend Elizabeth’s arm and asking her “Why don’t you girls ditch these geeks and come sit by us.” She of course didn’t take too kindly to this, especially since she had dated a few of these “geeks” and was currently engaged to one of them. Elizabeth responded with a terse “Fuck off” and we hoped that would be the end of that.
I should have realized sooner that these guys were going to be no good, especially since they were wearing one of the badges of an asshole: the dirty white hat. A favorite of frat boys and morons everywhere, these are white baseball caps that feature the name of some college team on them, bent so the ends of the bill are almost parallel with each other, and inevitably scuffed and dirty from years of never being washed. The leader was wearing the crème de la crème of these caps, that from the University of South Carolina, with the word “COCKS” emblazoned across the front in red stitching. Oh, how right that hat was.
King Cock grabbed Elizabeth’s arm and I ran over to intervene.
“Hey dude, let’s just chill out and enjoy the music.”
“Why don’t you shut up, faggot.”
“Why don’t you leave my friend alone?”
He stood up, “You wanna fuckin’ start somethin’?”
Now I am a big guy, about 6’ 2”, 270 lbs, and I can’t fight worth shit. I’ve managed to avoid fighting anyone for most of my life thanks to my size. If anyone is trying to start something, I just go to my standard response. I walk over, stand as close as I can, stare ‘em right in the eye, and say “I don’t think we’d want to do anything stupid” and follow it up with a very nonchalant but-if-you-do-want-to-do-something-stupid-I’m-going-to- fucking-enjoy-this chuckle. The jerk looking to fight is forced to deal with the fact that I’m much bigger than he is and that I am in no way apprehensive about what might happen, so he usually backs down. Thankfully, no one had ever called my bluff.
Stand. Stare. “I don’t think we’d want to do anything stupid.” Chuckle.
But there was a weakness in my plan. He grabbed my shoulders and kneed me in the balls.
I felt that sickly sensation crawl up my stomach. This was going to hurt in about 30 seconds, hurt bad. I had never taken a full on shot to the nuts before, but a lifetime’s worth of glancing blows and accidental pokes gave me an idea of what lay in store.
A switch flipped on in my head and I suddenly felt everything become cold and distant. My eyes snapped open and I found myself jumping on top him with the full weight of my body. He probably bashed the back of his head on the floor as he went down. I was sitting on top of him as this beast within my mind had suddenly become unchained and taken control of my hands.
Get the nose.
Hit the eye.
Now the jaw.
I was like Ralphie finally unleashing all his pent-up rage at Scut Farkus. Name-calling and beatings that I had taken and held inside for nigh-on decades were releasing themselves in a torrent of hatred, punching, and swearing. I was blaspheming gods even the priests had forgotten.
It seemed like minutes, but it could not have been that long because my hands started to hurt the same time as my crotch did. I slumped onto my side, moaning with my hands between my legs. King Cock just lay motionless on his back.
The owner and the bouncer finally showed up and grabbed the both of us. The owner, a massive man with a grey crewcut and a voice that had seen it’s share of cigarettes and late nights, bellowed “Get the FUCK out!” and we were unceremoniously dumped out the front door onto Halsted Street. I propped myself up against the building, gagging and hoping that I didn’t throw up. It felt like someone was jamming a hot poker into my innards. King Cock was attempting to staunch the blood flowing from his nose with his shirt.
Both our groups silently decided that the issue had been settled, and the assholes made their way south. After I was in good enough shape to walk, we turned north toward my friend’s house and hopefully lots of ice.
Amidst the haze of pain, I allowed myself a small smile. I had noticed that his dirty white hat had a new stain on it. And it was blood red.