Trilogy: What's the opposite of a love triangle?

[All names have been changed to protect even the idiot characters depicted herein.]
My friend Shanna used to hang around with the strangest types when we were in college.  Even though 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 loser magnet.  She used to date a guy named Trent.  In case you can't tell from the name I'm saddling him with, Trent was a dweeb.  Cammie tried to break 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 finally had enough of trying to blow him off on her own, she resorted to getting 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 pestering.  Trent didn't have the good sense to leave well enough alone, so he kept calling Cammie.

One day Cammie put Ryan the phone when Trent called.

"You don't quit calling her, I'm going 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 like 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 Cammie's plans to hang out at her apartment for a peaceful afternoon while Ryan ignored them and watched tv were shattered.  Now Ryan's on the phone calling up his friends, rounding them up for what is apparently going to be a huge gang war.  Cammie's freaking out, so she starts calling the cops because there's no telling how far this is going to escalate.  Within about fifteen minutes Ryan and at least a half dozen of his friends are outside the apartment along with several police cars and a group of neighbors worried about where this is heading... but there's no sign of Trent or his supposed faction.

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," he says.  "Yeah, none of my friends felt like going over there and kicking Ryan's ass."

Every once in a while around this time, Shanna and I used to go out to this frat/sports bar not very far from campus.  It wasn't my scene at all, and it wasn't really hers either, but she frequented 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 this 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 they liked the scene as that they liked making a scene.

If you've ever seen Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King, you probably remember the segment where Robin Williams' 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 from the delusional perspective of his character.  As a visual metaphor for the love he's overwhelmed with in that moment, the throng of commuters spontaneously begins to pair up and waltz around the station floor.  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 around together throwing punches and trying to knock the other down.  Within half a second another couple of guys are doing the same, and so on until 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 was 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 anymore spontaneous than the tv version.  Shanna knew the crowd and filled me in.  Most of these guys arrived planning to get in a fight with whatever frat 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 wage.  If you do the math figuring the cover charge they were paying for a thirty second scrap, their wallets were hit at least as hard as anyone they sucker punched that night.

Fights like this being a regular occurrence here, you could reasonably expect to find trouble in the place pretty much any time without even looking for it.  Trent went one night and, being a scrawny guy, some of the jackasses there kept messing with him as an easy target.

Although Trent wasn't especially bright, he had enough street smarts to make quick alliances.  In this case, he found the first big guy there who'd listen and offered to buy him drinks 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 there for fights anyway, so an offer of free drinks from a guy who also served as bait was a doubly ideal situation.

As it turned out, nothing much happened that night.  The presence of big guy was enough of a deterrent that 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 did."

Cammie wasn't so swift herself, but it started clicking almost immediately.  "Wait.  Was his name Trent?"


"Did he have blond hair, kinda scrawny?"


"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 of emotions.  "That fucker!  I'm going to... actually, um, he... he was kind of cool."

Copyright 2008 Alexplorer.
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