Friday, September 19, 2008

My first bar fight

Well…I’m back. I took a considerable amount of time off from blogging, but have decided to get back on track. I’m not going to spend too much time on an intro here, because the title speaks for itself. Very few people know about this night, and if they do, they probably don’t have all of the facts straight. So here goes:

It was one of those nights where you look back on it and say to yourself: “I wish I would of just stayed my ass home,” but I ended up going out anyway. I was coaxed into it because we already had a pretty good group at our apartment, and it’s hard to say “no” to visitors. The establishment was Blarney’s and it was a Thursday night.

Now, this wasn’t exactly my first time there, so I know the drill as far as checking ID’s go. You walk through the door first and are greeted by two bouncers sitting in chairs right next to each other on the inner part of the bar – one of them scans your driver’s license, while the other verifies your picture. This is the way it has always been, and trust me…we frequented this place pretty often at the time. Unbeknownst to me, Blarney’s had instated a new policy for checking ID’s on this night, and I wasn’t exactly informed in a cordial manner. I walked into through the door with wallet in hand, ready to hand my driver’s license to the bouncer – just as I had always done. I got about one step inside the bar, only to be caught off guard by a man wearing an Irish green shirt. He approached me from behind, grabbing me by the neck, and violently flinging me out the door – nearly knocking me off my feet.

The expressions on the faces of the people with me told the entire story. I remember standing next to a guy named Kevin – he had wide eyes, his jaw dropped, and basically had a “holy shit” look on his face. I attempted to gather myself and walk to the end of the line. I then watched the rest of the people in our group reluctantly hand their IDs over to this genuinely volatile and unstable human being.

So, this was very interesting to me. After watching about 4-5 people go ahead of me, I now had to hand my card over to the guy that essentially assaulted me. Although we were face-to-face, he never once looked me in the eye or spoke to me. I remember thinking to myself: You need to get an explanation.

I proceeded to ask him:

“So…what happened back there?” (no response)….

“Don’t you guys usually check ID’s inside?” (no response)…

“Excuse Me…..Don’t you usually check ID’s inside??” (still nothing).

The bouncer just continued his character role - Playing the part of either a bad ass or a mute, I couldn’t quite identify it. After a thorough inspection of my driver’s license, he handed it back to me and proceeded to the next person in line as if nothing had happened. I went back into the bar to try and meet up with the group, but I honestly had a tough time letting this go. I wish I could say I did the noble thing – turned the other cheek and didn’t allow it to get to me, but I was very bothered by the way things transpired. That was absolutely inexcusable. You do not grab people like that. Especially those who are obviously not drunk and pose no threat to your general area.

I was encouraged by those around me who told me that the bouncer was way out of line, and I attempted to salvage what was left of the evening. The beers kept coming my way – I even think I had a rare shot of Jack Daniels, and I began to enjoy myself. Make no mistake about it, I was buzzed, but I was definitely still cognitive and in control. This is where the story differentiates from those who were not present and re-told it back in my hometown of Moorhead. In their version, you would have thought I was damn near black-out drunk and hurling glass bottles at bad karaoke singers.

Overall, I remember spending the majority of my night with a guy named Kent. We were wandering around and getting a lot of attention from the women-folk, and that in my estimation is was what started this whole ordeal. I have re-visited this several times in my head, and to me, that is the only possible explanation for what spurred the next confrontation. I remember talking to a girl when all of sudden…WHAM. I couldn’t believe it….Of all people…it was the same bouncer using the same cowardly maneuver that he had pulled on me earlier in the evening – grabbing my neck and throwing me backwards.

This time he was looking me dead in the eye, burning a whole right through me, and telling me it was time to go! I have thought about it over and over much after the incident, but I am now most certain – I had to have been conversing with his girl.

So, essentially this whole thing started when I was outside, and was resumed once I was inside. I have no problem with authority, but to me there is a fine line between respecting authority and taking shit – and enough was enough for me. I was absolutely livid. It was kind of like the cartoons because I resembled Yosemite Sam with fumes coming out of my ears. I reminded him about the incident outside and how he replicated just now, and asked him (in different words) if he was capable of attacking somebody that was actually facing him. He had a few choice words for me, and then capped it all off with: “It’s time to go!” (again). And I responded with the comment that set off an incident that would soon garner the attention of everybody in the bar:

“It’s 1:30 jackass… you can go f*ck yourself!”

And just like that – It was on. I knew he would be the first to come at me, but he did something that I did not anticipate. This guy was a clearly of fan of that UFC outfit, because he tried execute a move that you would more than likely see on the show. I’m not making this up (and this is an employee of Blarney’s mind you), the first thing he did was shoot my legs and try to take me away from my vertical base. I can’t imagine this is standard bouncer protocol. The only problem was apparently he didn’t watch enough cage fighting film because I instinctively took two steps back, and he ended up misfiring about two feet short. He then commenced bear crawling towards me and grabbed my feet and ankles.

So my first reaction is to obviously get this guy off of me – it is very strange to be grabbed by your ankles. I attempted a variation of headlock, which didn’t last very long. Another bartender/bouncer came from behind me (again) while my hands were tied up, and stuck his middle and ring fingers into my eyes (another thing that I thought was completely unnecessary) in an attempt to immediately get me off this guy . The act of somebody forcefully sticking their fingers into your eyeballs is something that I wish upon nobody. I have been stung by a jellyfish, bitten by a parrot, but never have I ever had a worse pain in my life than the night my eyes were gauged out at the bar. I hurled my body backwards with everything I had in desperation to get this guy’s hands out of my eyes, but it was to no avail (I was this told this did however, break a glass window/light). The last thing I remember is my feet clearing the ground and being systematically and literally thrown out of the bar. I landed stomach and face first in the street.

This hurt very badly – I was in a lot of pain. The people that I came with were nowhere near me, and going in the bar to find them was definitely not an option. I am very grateful for what happened afterwards. These two guys, who I’m convinced were my guardian angels, picked me off the ground and helped walk me back home. These guys didn’t know me at all and I can’t even remember their names. The only thing I remember them saying was that they lived in Dinkytown. They walked a mile out of there way to help a complete stranger.

The only dialogue that I can recall is them asking me multiple times if I was ok and them repeatedly stating that they couldn’t believe what they did to me. I remember being most concerned with my eyesight. At the time, I was convinced that I had permanently damaged vision. I should mention that I wear contact lenses (that were ripped out of my eyes during fight), and I am almost blind without them – we’re talking Stevie Wonder. I don’t trust my ability to walk to the refrigerator and pick out on orange without contacts, let alone walk home from Dinkytown to Melrose. I sincerely wish I get a chance to meet the guys who helped me again some day, because I sincerely owe them a debt of gratitude.

I woke up that morning struggling to get a new contact into my disfigured right eye so I could take a look at myself. Not only were both my eyes discolored but my left bicep, forearms, and stomach were severely cut up and bruised.

It is a very humbling experience to get beat on that badly, and it definitely changed me to a certain extent. I’ve really scaled back the drinking, and I don’t frequent the bar scene as much as I used to. The weekend doesn’t start on Wednesday anymore, and when I do go out I am more reserved. I certainly didn’t write this blog in spite of Blarney’s, but I’m not necessarily endorsing them either, and I will never go back.

Although I don’t believe I was completely innocent, I’ll never believe I did anything wrong by standing up for myself. Word gets around quickly in a small town, and upon hearing that “Shawn got beat up real bad at a bar in Minneapolis,” my mother called me crying the next day. She then passed the phone to my dad and he gave me a response similar to the one I heard in Junior High when a coach broke a clipboard over my helmet in practice: “Deal with it.”

I can’t argue with that…and he is most certainly right. It’s unfortunate that we live in a litigious society where other people are so quick to sue those who have wronged them. A lawsuit nowadays seems like the appropriate response in the smallest of situations, and people never take into consideration that sometimes in life you just need to tested, and you need to experience things like this to become stronger. What bothered me before now makes me proud to say that I got my ass kicked, and got right back up. I didn’t whine, I didn’t complain, I didn’t make excuses…and I’m ready for another round.

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