My friend Shanna used
around with the strangest types when we were in college. Even
she was an honors student all her academic life, she still kept up with
her friend Cammie long after the latter dropped out of high school and
took a different course in life in every other way. I never liked
that crowd of Shanna's friends for several reasons, but I have to admit
they were collectively a good source of stories.
Specifically, Cammie was a
She used to date a guy named Trent. In case you can't tell from
name I'm saddling him with, Trent was a dweeb. Cammie tried to
up with him, but he kept calling her and coming around and just being a
huge pain in the ass for months after the fact. When Cammie'd
had enough of trying to blow him off on her own, she resorted to
a bigger boyfriend named Ryan. This kept Trent at bay insofar as
he quit showing up at her house, but that didn't end the
Trent didn't have the good sense to leave well enough alone, so he kept
One day Cammie put Ryan the
"You don't quit calling her,
to kick your ass," Ryan told him.
"Oh, yeah?" said Trent.
He was a
scrawny guy, but his mouth seemed oblivious to that fact. "I'd
to see you try, you stupid fuck."
"Well then, come on over."
"Alright, I will! Me
and my crew
are coming over there right now."
With this news, Shanna and
to hang out at her apartment for a peaceful afternoon while Ryan
them and watched tv were shattered. Now Ryan's on the phone
up his friends, rounding them up for what is apparently going to be a
gang war. Cammie's freaking out, so she starts calling the cops
there's no telling how far this is going to escalate. Within
fifteen minutes Ryan and at least a half dozen of his friends are
the apartment along with several police cars and a group of neighbors
about where this is heading... but there's no sign of Trent or his
After waiting around for
maybe half an
hour, the phone rings. Cammie answers. It's Trent.
"Where are you?" Cammie asks.
"Awwww, I'm not coming over,"
"Yeah, none of my friends felt like going over there and kicking Ryan's
Every once in a while around
Shanna and I used to go out to this frat/sports bar not very far from
It wasn't my scene at all, and it wasn't really hers either, but she
it because Cammie and that crowd liked it. Again, this is really
odd for the obvious reasons that there were plenty of other bars, but
was a college bar in a college town. Like I said, Cammie and her
boyfriend(s) were high school drop-outs, but they went anyway. I
didn't realize it when we first got there, but it wasn't so much that
liked the scene as that they liked making a scene.
If you've ever seen Terry
Fisher King, you probably remember the segment where Robin
character is pursing the girl he's in love with through a crowded train
station. She doesn't know he's following, and he wanders through
the crowd love-struck. Of course, much of the film takes place
the delusional perspective of his character. As a visual metaphor
for the love he's overwhelmed with in that moment, the throng of
spontaneously begins to pair up and waltz around the station
It's a beautiful scene, but it paralleled a very different one from one
night at the bar when Shanna's, um, colorful friends were around.
Having little else to do
there, I was at
the edge of the room watching a guy setting up trick shots on the pool
table. The dance floor opposite us is packed as the DJ pumps out
the Spin Doctors or Soul Asylum or some other generic frat rock.
All of a sudden in the middle of the crowd, two guys start spinning
together throwing punches and trying to knock the other down.
half a second another couple of guys are doing the same, and so on
there are at least four or five couples wailing away at one another and
just as many about to join in when the security starts pulling everyone
apart and putting them in a headlock as they're dragged out. It
over almost as soon as it started, but the speed of the chain reaction
was faster than any montage of shots of this phenomenon you've probably
only seen previously on The Dukes of Hazzard.
It turned out this wasn't
than the tv version. Shanna knew the crowd and filled me
Most of these guys arrived planning to get in a fight with whatever
boys they could take a swing at. Often they were in and (thrown)
out of the place in a total of fifteen minutes which hardly sounds like
a bargain for a group that wasn't averaging much above minimum
If you do the math figuring the cover charge they were paying for a
second scrap, their wallets were hit at least as hard as anyone they
punched that night.
Fights like this being a
here, you could reasonably expect to find trouble in the place pretty
any time without even looking for it. Trent went one night and,
a scrawny guy, some of the jackasses there kept messing with him as an
Although Trent wasn't
he had enough street smarts to make quick alliances. In this
he found the first big guy there who'd listen and offered to buy him
for the duration of the night if he took out any of the other guys who
were messing with him. The big guy was just the type who came
for fights anyway, so an offer of free drinks from a guy who also
as bait was a doubly ideal situation.
As it turned out, nothing
that night. The presence of big guy was enough of a deterrent
the punks left Trent alone, and in fact he and his one-time body guard
for the evening hit it off. They hung around together until last
call, then both went home without incident.
When he got home, Cammie
asked Ryan what
he'd been up to.
"Nothing much," he
said. "I mostly
hung around with this little dude all night. He bought me drinks
to beat up these guys he said were fuckin' with him, but they never
Cammie wasn't so swift
herself, but it
started clicking almost immediately. "Wait. Was his name
"Did he have blond hair,
"You dumb fuck! That
was my ex-boyfriend
Trent that said he was going to come over here and kick your ass!"
Ryan was flooded with a mix
"That fucker! I'm going to... actually, um, he... he was kind of