The Right Way To Beat Up A Girl

The Right Way To Beat Up A Girl

by Mark Driver

Yeah, I’m here for another semi-annual entry. Life’s good for me these days, hence the lack of cathartic bleeding on these pages lately. So I’m happy. Fucking sue me. When my life was miserable, I wrote a column twice a week. I quit bitching and actually take some steps towards improving my life (like moving to a livable city and getting a decent job), and I’m lucky to get something up every other month. Just goes to prove, if you sever all the little things in your life that piss you off, and painstakingly carve a life for yourself, you can live without complaining and hating those first harsh five minutes of everyday when the alarm clock goes off and your shoulders hurt from sleeping fucked up because you went to bed drunk in a fight with your girlfriend and your job is like an embarrassment tied around your neck that barely pays for the shitty, dirty little apartment where you sit and hope a bullet doesn’t fly through the window, and then start thinking how that might not be such a bad thing ….

Yeah, things are good, but I’m afraid I’ve already found a winner for this year’s Mark Driver Balls of Titanium Award. Please stop sending in your entries. I saw a bum yesterday on 4th and Virginia who panhandled some passing lady WHILE pissing on the side of a building. That’s right, one hand operating the dirty machinery, the other outstretched for coin. This city’s definitely the safest I’ve ever lived in, but it’s also got more fucked up people than anywhere I’ve been (save Montreal -but that’s another story). Congratulations to the Panhandling Pisser are in order, as I’ve already given him the Grand Prize, $1.37 in change.

I just got back from a relaxing weekend in Berkeley where I hooked up with an old friend of mine. He was housesitting for his boss, who’s totally loaded and has a fat house up in the hills. I spent most of my time guzzling porter on a big deck looking across the water at the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges, San Francisco, Alcatraz. It was beautiful. But I still hate San Francisco.

Yeah, I said it. I fucking hate San Francisco. Paris of America, my acne-scarred ass. I hate the people, I hate the architecture, I hate the bridges, I hate the prices, I hate the traffic, I hate the DJs, I hate the clubs. In fact, the only things that give San Francisco even the slightest amount of worth are Chinatown and Amoeba Records which could be moved to a more desirable city with a little hard work and determination.

Granted, every time I’ve ever been to San Francisco something lousy has happened to me. Like when after missing some friends I was supposed to hook up with, I spent the night at a 24 hour Fried Fish restaurant hitting on the waitress so she wouldn’t kick me out. Then there was the time my band’s bus broke down in San Mateo and we had to bother all of our friends to help us move our gear up to Bottom of the Hill. Thank Buddah that our pals at Milarepa were able to lend us a van for an afternoon, at least until Blag Dahlia let us borrow the tour van of The Dwarves with the dubiously legal arrangement – “if ANYTHING goes wrong with it, you have to buy it!” Then there was the time I flew in for the Webbies (don’t even get me started on those twats), didn’t know anyone, and got so shitfaced I was asked to leave the afterparty for bothering people. And then I couldn’t find a hotel with a vacancy and ended up sleeping in the front seat of my rented Geo Metro Bubble and nearly died from dehydration. Then there was the time when I – aw fuck it. You get the picture.

Still though, I don’t like the place. Everyone there is so sure that they are the shit. The kind of people who assume anything they haven’t heard of is lame. People who think that just because they managed to find an apartment in a progressive city, that somehow automatically propels them to the top of the culture pile. Self-satisfaction. Pseudo-culture. Immaterial hipness. Everyone there is so proud they live in San Francisco, they never look around and see what a shithole it is. Fuck, give me LA to SF. Any Day.

‘But dude, they’ve got the best DJ’s!’ Fuck off, I could go masturbate my hyperspecialized record collection in public too, and I’d probably have a blast doing it, but I wouldn’t expect a squirt of respect, just maybe an occasional smile or a ‘Yeah!’ or a glass of beer every now and then. I mean Christ, what are the qualifications to be a good DJ? The ability to buy every fucking 12″ remix that comes out? To listen to the beginning and ends of songs and match them up so they sound good? How long does that skill take to develop? A week? An hour? Yeah, Mr. Baggypants. You’re cock of the walk, huh? Strut that shit cause next year when the trend is something else, you’ll be back to your job at the coffee shop, where the only requests you’ll be taking will be for ‘medium foam, extra cinnamon’.

‘But dude, it’s the Tech Capitol of the World!’ Pudgy guys walking around in free Macromedia T-shirts do not a city make. People who saw no daylight during their college years being championed by the business students who made fun of them while comparing power ties. Mediocre millionaires, and a hundred thousand wanna-bes, and a know-it-all press that globs on to anything that might turn into something, regardless of its inherent stupidity.

OK. I suppose I have a few bugs up my ass.

But it was good to see my friend again.

We pretty much grew up together, which means we’ve been tight for something like 17 or 18 years. Long time to keep a friend. His journey back to San Francisco was way more painful than my dull complaints. He had spent six or seven months on the streets of Berkeley and San Francisco before getting stabbed and shipped to Portland on a freight train.

We talked a lot of old times, and new times, and filled each other in on how bad we were messing up everything around us, what good things we were doing, how unbelievable it was that either of us survived past the age of 25, and how cool it was to be getting older and finally lose some of the angst that seemed prime ingredient to most of our self-destructions.

Anyway, all the talking reminded me of an old story I’d written about him but and never finished. So, combing back through my unpublished archive (which is about ten times as voluminous as the shit that I’ve put up, if you can believe it), I found it. Here goes:

So I’m sixteen or seventeen, grinding parking blocks and railsliding handrails on some ancient brand of skateboard (it was either the John Gibson Zorlac model or the second Rob Roskopp if that means anything to anyone) at Winn-Dixie in suburban Atlanta. I was killing time, waiting for my friend Brad to meet up with me. Brad was a fucked up dude who also happened to be my best friend. He had run away the year before and gutterpunked it in places like Berkeley, Portland, and Omaha. After about eleven months on the street he panhandled enough to come home. When he came back, he was considerably changed, and had a hard time relating to the rest of us, mainly because of the shit he’d seen, the shit he’d done, and the shit that got done to him on the street. The few stories I could get out of him involved getting cut up by skinheads in Oakland for breaking up a fight, and an on again/off again crystal habit that had eventually brought him into the ranks of the addicts which school had taught us were subhuman monsters.

Prior to him taking off, we had been completely inseparable. We finished each other’s sentences and wore each other’s clothes. But now we were in totally different places. He was sleeping in his car after getting kicked out of his parent’s house. My mom had dinner ready at seven and my dad was helping me build a skate ramp in the driveway. He was shaking a hard drug and I was looking at colleges. I was going to high school and he was washing dishes in a steakhouse. We still had enough between us to hang out, but it was changed. Quieter. But we still skated together.

He shows up, looking as dirty and fucked up as usual, smelling like a mixture of BBQ sauce and B.O. His grown out mohawk was gnarled and half-dreaded, bleached in spots, catching the cigarette smoke rising out of his mouth.

“I’m too tired to skate, I’ve been working since 8 this morning.”

“You’re turning into an old man.”

“I fucking feel like one.”

He just sat on the curb and drank a coke while I skated little circles around him, shooting the shit about some record I got, when this pick-up truck comes from around the corner, squealing’, hootin’ and hollerin’. It roars by and almost hits me. This head that looks like a lump of dough with a wig on it shoots out of the passenger window and yells “Fuhk yew, yew fuhkin fag-etts.”

Now first let me say that people who yell things out of moving cars are the lowest breed of people in the world, and the South has got to be the “Yelling Out of Cars” capital of the universe, mostly because 95% of the population can be demographically described as “fucked in the head” (as opposed to the national average of 94%).

If you have ever yelled anything out of a moving car at a passerby, you should do the world a favor and kill yourself. Seriously. I mean, come on. Not only are you protected by the car, your speed, and the fact that you’re halfway home before the person can come up with a response, you’re yelling at strangers, and strangers are a strange breed.

Like this one time: I remember walking down the road, coming from a pawnshop where I had just helped this girl pick out a gun. She had been attacked in her apartment a day earlier. All of her anti-gun rhetoric went out the window with the intruder, and those waiting periods she had been supporting the passage of (you could still walk in off the street and buy a handgun then) suddenly seemed to be a bad idea. So, with a snub nosed .44 in her hand, tucked under a sweater, we were walking down the road. She was still fried in the head, as is anyone who survives getting the fuck kicked out of them by a stranger. We were making our way over to the sporting goods store to get ammo for the thing, and this white Camaro slows down and some idiot yells “FUCKING STUPID BITCHES” at us. The girl snapped and reacted instantly. The gun came up and she pulled the trigger six times screaming “FUCKING DIE! FUCKING DIE!” which the dumbass would have done if we hadn’t stopped for a bit of lunch on our way for hollowpoints. I’m sure that Camaro’s next stop was at K-mart for a new pack of Fruit of the Looms.

So anyway, back to the story. This mustachioed female head makes an incorrect judgement on the nature of our sexual identities in an attempt to be insulting as the truck roars by at 40 miles an hour. I laugh and further cement my opinion of most Southerners as tobacco poisoned monkeys lacking the grooming skills to pick the lice out of their chests. After all, it is much easier to silently reduce the human value of a stranger than actually stand up to one.

Brad, on the other hand, would have none of it. If you want to find someone who is perpetually in a bad mood, find someone who lives out of a car and is trying to kick meth. He stood up, turned himself to expose maximum surface area to the truck, put a middle finger in each hand, and screamed “Fuck you, you inbred cracker! You fucking buck toothed bitch!”

The truck’s response was immediate. Brake lights sprang to life as the lumbering brain at the wheel thought something to the effect of “manhood – at – stake must – turn – around.” Because after all, what could possibly hold more of a threat to a fully grown man than two 17 year old skaters? The truck threw itself into reverse, making a whiney, spinwheel noise, and then suddenly stopped. Mental calculations revealed to the driver that regular reverse would put the gorilla in a wig girlfriend of his in between his ever increasing testicles and us, and HE wanted to be the one hanging out the window and chattering like a gibbon. He did a quick turn-around, almost clipping a station wagon that was not aware of the gravity and utter seriousness of the truck’s mission.

The truck came around and it took all of my strength not to run away at full speed. The only thing that kept me from streaking away like a little sissy girl was the fact that Brad would think I was a wuss. “Relax,” Brad said, “I’ll take care of it.” Yeah no shit he was going to take care of it.

The truck came to a screeching halt right in front of us. The driver was all foam hat, biceps, and mustache. His body was somewhere around 25 years old, his mind – I’m going to assume its age ranked somewhere in the single digits. He threw open the door and jumped out of the truck, almost forgetting to put it in park.

“Who the fuck are you talking to mutha fucka! You fuckin’ dissin my girl? Who you think you fuckin’ with mutha fucka?” Yeah, in a phenomenon I can’t really understand, most rednecks have taken to talking Ebonics. I thought white trash and homeboys were enemies? Has Rednecktalk been ridiculed so much that the population has adopted another grammatically fucked vernacular? And speaking of Blacktalk, has anyone noticed that when White Guy starts talking to Black Guy, how he suddenly starts acting a little black? Like Black Guy has this sphere of influence that extents out about 5 feet, and any White Dude entering the circle is suddenly transformed into 2Pac? I mean a guy who won’t even hold his girlfriend’s hand normally, is suddenly performing these intricate handshake backslap hug combos, and saying ‘know-wut-I-meen and/or sayin’ ?’ at the end of every sentence. It’s fucking embarrassing to watch, yet strangely compelling. Check it out sometime. Anyway ………..

Now, I always have trouble with this part of the story, because it is one of the best things I’ve ever seen in my life. Let’s recap, shall we? Two suburban, teenage, scrawny skaters quietly killing an afternoon. A grown man and his girl, driving around in a souped-up truck, looking for someone to exert their dominance over. The gauntlet is thrown, the die cast, the condom foil torn – the point of no return.

The guy is out of the truck, but before he can even get to his fourth appropriation of urban African American dialect, Brad takes two steps forward and smacks the guy in the nose with a quick left jab. The whole scene is in slow motion. The man, reels back a bit, completely taken off guard by the fact that a scrawny 17 year old kid is standing up to him. Brad catches him under the jaw with a right, and hits him so hard, the guy’s boots actually come up off the ground. The guy never sees the one that gets him. The guy stumbles back a few feet, stunned, falls back against the driver’s seat of the truck. Brad slams the door hard, catching the guy both in the face and the knees. He slams the door again. The guy looks like he’s in some sort of trance. Brad lets the guy fall to the ground and starts kicking him.

By this point, cars have stopped, and a crowd is forming. The guy’s girlfriend sees her knight in shining denim getting his bowels rearranged, and jumps out of the truck, running around the cab screaming, “Leave him alone yew mutha fucka!”

Brad stopped kicking the guy and looked up at her. He took a step towards the girl, and then, in one of the most shocking things I’ve witnessed, punched her square in the nose. She flew backwards and he caught her by the frizzy blonde hair. He pulled her fat face to within an inch of his and he said, in slow, precise out of breath words, “Never …. start …. a …. fight …. that …. your …. boyfriend …. can’t …. finish.” And then he dropped her on the ground.

We split before the cops showed up.

So what’s the moral? I suppose if you’re always out looking for trouble, you’re going to eventually find it. Don’t fuck with someone who has nothing to lose. Spend time analyzing why you feel the need to be out harassing people instead of actually going out and doing it. Don’t start what you can’t finish. Tell your girlfriend to shut the fuck up the next time she starts yelling shit out a window. I don’t know, take what you want out of it.

In hindsight, the guy could’ve had a gun. And both Brad and I could be dead. The whole thing was stupid. But that’s the thing about life. Sometimes you’re lucky, sometimes you get your ass kicked by someone half your size.

But that was about 10 years ago.

Brad’s been in and out of jail a few times (mostly for the shit that happens to you when you have a car and no money), and we’ve both been in plenty of fucked-up situations. Bad girls, shifty ‘friends’, scrapes with Johnny Law, drug problems, lots of crushed dreams and lots of disappointment. Angst, the general shittyness of being poor, random disease, suffering from the inexhaustible greed and penny-ante rip-offs of just about everything that walks on two legs. Months of hard work that amount to nothing, losing touch with everyone, the unending pressure of finding some way to pay the rent ……

But last week, we were feeling pretty good. Out on a huge redwood deck, laying on beach chairs with our feet up, drinking a 12 pack of Sierra Nevada we found in the fridge. The sun going down, but still warm on the face. It’s quiet. And still. The Golden Gate Bridge is packed with silent cars. Alcatraz is lost in the fog. It’s not our deck, or even our beer, but the fact doesn’t seem to matter. Neither of us say anything for about 15 minutes. Brad takes a long drink from the brown bottle and breaks the silence.

“Man, I gotta get me one of these.”

“What? A million dollar house in the hills?”

“Yeah.”

Which just goes to show you, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve been through, there’s still plenty of dreaming to be done.