Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bullshit at the bar

Now, I'm not a violent person by any stretch of the imagination. The last thing I punched was a ballot on Election Day. However, when provoked, I can "get my Irish up" pretty good. (Which I know is a hopeless racial stereotype, and one that doesn't even make sense - but it sure beat the more ethnographically accurate "get my part-Mexican part-Italian part-Okie up".) As a word of warning, this post contains some less-than-pleasant language, including one word (not spoken by me) that is about as bad as it gets (hint: that word ain't "moist").

The game itself was pretty straightforward - we beat the Warner Pros. 11-1. We jumped out early and never looked back. I knew a couple of their players from Hollywood Division, and they are generally speaking about the best group of people you would want to play against.

The scene at the Sportsmen's Lodge after the game was pretty low-key - a lot of people were still feeling the effects of St. Patrick's Day from Saturday, and decided to take this week off of the bar. I'd day the bar had probably half as many kickballers in it as it usually does on a typical Monday night.

As usual, it was 99 percent kickballers there at the bar (the Sportsmen's Lodge is usually kind of...well, let's say that it's an older clientèle - or as someone put it "I came here on Saturday and it smelled like old people and death"). We usually have a few regulars sneering at us for ruining their quiet evening of getting bombed, along with a few guests from the hotel who have no idea what the hell is going on.

So, I get there at about 9:45 p.m., and head to the bar to get my first drink. As I'm standing there, I see three guys who clearly aren't with the kickball league sitting at the bar next to me. They are in their mid to late-30s, and they all look basically the same:

- White guys
- Medium build, but getting kinda pudgy
- Haven't shaved in three days
- Baseball cap
- Sunglasses placed over the bill of their cap
- Jeans and slightly dirty sweatshirt of their favorite sporting team

Basically, these guys just scream "I'm a redneck from Central California" to me on sight. I'm from Central California, and I grew up with these guys - I know my own. Sure enough, as I'm ordering, the first thing I hear out of one guy's mouth (who resembled Garth Brooks from 1998, except slighter of build and less attractive) basically confirmed everything I was thinking. Basically, as I'm ordering, and as he's surrounded by kickballers, he decides to very loudly launch into this monologue with his buddies.

"Man, did you ever think that you'd be sitting in a bar in Los Angeles, surrounded by a buncha faggots playing kickball? Shiiit..."

My first instinct was to immediately turn and say something to him, but I actually was so stunned that I didn't know what to say. So, I just finished up my drink order and walked back to my table as Faux Garth kept on blabbing about how "I bet these people never were good enough to play football in high school, so now they have to do this..." and on and on.

Throughout the course of the night, I'd head back over there to get another round, and by gawd, he still was going on and on about the "kickball faggots". I'd report this back to people, and I had several people willing to "take care of some business", including a few people that I would not want to meet in a back alley (hi Doug from Nuts & Honeys). But cooler heads prevailed, at least for most people.

Except for Scott Jones and I. If I was going to pick one person who I knew was going to get just as riled up about this as me, it would be Scott. Put us together, and man oh man...so at one point, Scott and I went up there to the bar and were talking to some other kickballers while we were next to the Blue Collar Comedy Tour: Electric Boogaloo. When there was a lull in all conversations, I turned to Scott and had the following exchange, loudly:

Me: "Man, you know what would suck?"
Scott: "What?"
Me: "Being a redneck loser who has nothing better to do than to hang out with a couple of other dudes on a Monday night at a bar."
Scott: "Yeah, that must really suck."

And with that, we went back to our seats, mission accomplished.

Except for when the last call came, and everyone eventually cleared out except for me, Scott, and The Blue Collar Comedy Tour II: Electric Boogaloo. As soon as it was just us and the bartenders, Faux Garth made another witty one-liner (I believe it involved "fags who play kickball" - I don't think that he had a breadth of material to work from) directed at us. Which led to me responding, and then back and forth...basically, it started to get ugly once I decided to do my "imitation" of them to Scott:

"Hey, let's get us into our big ole' truck and get drunk at the bar. After that, we can get some chewing tobaccky, and then drive around and see if there are any fags or blacks that we can tie to our bumpers and drag down the street."

At this point, the bartender Saana was going to kick everyone out (and I don't blame her), but Scott wound up striking up a somewhat pleasant conversation with one of their friends who came in late over football (Scott is a Chiefs fan and this guy was a part of Raider Nation). Eventually, they took off for their rooms (they were staying at the hotel from - you guessed it - Bishop in Central California, albeit on the other side of the Sierra Nevadas than me) and Scott and I stayed to chat with Saana and the other bartender, who immediately made sure we knew that they weren't mad at us, and just wanted those "hicks" out of their bar.

There are two morals here:

1. I wouldn't go to a bar in, say, Tennessee, and start loudly complaining about "all these rednecks listening to shitty country music and having sex with their cousins" - it's pretty disrespectful - and if I did do it, I certainly would expect to have a lot of people pissed off at me.

2. I also wouldn't do that because I AM A REDNECK in so many ways. Grew up in the Valley? Check. Listens to country music? Check. Has been to Dollywood? Check. Watches NASCAR and sprint car races, and prefers beer in cans to bottles? Check, check and check. However, just because I'm a redneck doesn't mean that I have to be an ignorant, racist, homophobic asshole who is frightened because he's in "the big city" and there's so much weird stuff going on.

Adults playing kickball? Blacks and whites mixing? Gay people not having to hide in fear? Nope, Faux Garth don't like it none.

Again, I know this all too well. When I went home for my 10 year HS reunion a few years ago, about 25 percent of the people there (who hadn't left my hometown) saw fit to, within 30 seconds of talking to me, slam Los Angeles. "It's too dirty. There's too much crime. It's so big. They have a lot of black people there. I hate it." In fact, Faux Garth said something to me (when he wasn't rambling about "kickball" and "faggots") about how he has a daughter and "I could never see how anyone could raise someone in Los Angeles. In Bishop, she can walk the streets by herself and no one bothers her."

Which, first off, since I overheard you mention to one of your pals that your daughter is 6, I would hope she isn't walking the streets alone. That's shitty parenting, although if Daddy's getting drunk at the bar all night, I guess she needs something to do to keep from getting bored. Secondly, I personally can't imagine raising a child in a place that doesn't have the theatre. Or ballet. Or orchestras. Or museums. Or anything cultural whatsoever. Hell, even my hometown was close to Fresno, which had all of the above things, even if it was in a limited quantity.

So, in summary, I'd like to say something directly to Faux Garth (I know the odds of him having Internets access is slim, much less ever reading this blog, but still...): I'm sorry that your life (despite having a daughter at home) is so devoid of meaning that you get your jollies staying at a bar all night to drink while surrounded by people you clearly despise. Next week, I'll be back at the park and the bar, with several hundred interesting people from all walks of life. Meanwhile, you'll be face down on the bar at Slim's Place, or Two-Hand Larry's, or whatever seedy as hell bar you frequent in Bishop, while the bartender rifles through your wallet for cab fare. I'm not angry, really, just...kind of sad for you.

Also, if I see you again, I'm going to take a tire iron to your head. Cheers!


Sara said...

You are awesome.

The Duke of Kickball said...

And kind of an idiot, too...I mean, I am a 31 year old who almost got into a bar fight last night. I pity the poor woman foolish enough to marry me...

Face said...

You two always make interesting nights. Also I would be curious what would have been said or if they would have said anything at all had I been standing there. Nothing scares a redneck more than the thought of a scary black girl cursing them out or threatening to bring in a big black mob.
Glad you defended yourselves.

Scott Jonesilicious said...

Their arguments were confusing. On one hand we were "faggots" implying softness, on the other hand they criticize the Mean Streets of North Hollywood. I mean, pick a position and go with it. Same goes with their thoughts on hometowns, apparently the dissimilar locations "Missouri" and "North Hollywood" are equally laughable places to be from.

I always question people who think their geography defines their superiority. When asked about their place of origin, they told me "Where the men are men!" Now, what the hell does that mean?

It's interesting too, that these guys seemed offended when you implied they were racist. They probably had no idea that even judging people on what social activity they participate in is basically the same thing.

It was definitely one of the more fun nights at the bar.

The Duke of Kickball said...

My first thought when he made the "where men are men" comment was "and where the women damned well know to shut their traps when the game is on and to NOT BURN THE FUCKING POT ROAST AGAIN!!! if they don't want to 'run into the door' again!" But that would have been too lengthy of a response, I think.

Catherine said...

This is an awesome story. Well done.

Megan said...

Wow! Maybe I picked the wrong focus, but I think I'm most amazed by the comment about how kickballers are just people who couldn't hack it at high school football. I know all the high school football players from my hometown have gone on to do GREAT things...clearly those guys have as well. Phenomenal! Way to stand up for yourselves and the rest of us! Thanks guys!

tbg said...

hey "duke"
good story. how come you didn't tell us about this story earlier? you should have challenged these guys to a kickball game and then you could have enlightened them and tought them how to lighten up.