False Teeth and a Mean Right Hook

False Teeth and a Mean Right Hook

There are things in life that no one can prepare you for.

Last weekend, after a tough day of sleeping late, reading the paper, watering the plants, and catching a stupid TV movie, the little lady and I stepped out for a couple beers at one of the few tolerable neighborhood bars. Most of the bars on my street cater either to Mexican cowboys, transplanted European soccer fans, yuppies, or senior citizens. Or, if you’re feeling lonely, you can shell out $6.00 a mixed drink at the fake hip niteklub, where normal people dressed up like cool people clumsily try to pick each other up. Needless to say, we hang out at the old folks bar, where the beer tabs are kind to social security budgets, the pool table’s always open, no one loads Tom Petty or Juan Alvarez’s Spicy Salsa Combo on the jukebox, and you can actually have a conversation with the person you came with. Well, usually, that is.

As we walked in, I went straight to the bar to harass the haggard barmaid for a beer. Krusty took a seat at a crooked little booth next to the pinball machine (it’s always funny to see the stupid expressions people get on their faces when they play pinball). I hadn’t turned my back on the girl for thirty seconds before some creepy old bird tried to slide into the booth bench with her. Figuring my girlfriend could take care of herself, at least until I could get the beers, I watched her try to shove the old dude onto the floor, hoping he might bust a hip on the way down, but he was not going to be brushed off so easily. He grabbed her by the hair and started pulling her out of the booth. It was about this time I bounded over to break it up.

Now, Krusty’s a pretty tough bird herself. What she lacks in size she makes up in hatred of the human race. We’ve had our little tussles before and she’s not someone I go out of my way to piss off. She can take care of herself, thank you, so I usually try not to play superboyfriend unless things get out of hand. I assume, however, that in most circles an intoxicated senior citizen with a handful of my girlfriend’s hair could conceivably be considered `out of hand’. I grabbed the old man’s free hand and twisted it behind his back, Krusty grabbed the one on her head and sunk her fingernails into the wrist. The guy pretty much collapsed, with me on top of him, and Krusty was up and on her feet, looking for an angle to sneak a steel toed boot through.

Up close, there was one word to describe this old fucker: salty. He was 70 and drunk out of his skull, loosely wrapped in an army vest peppered with poorly stitched military patches. He had blued out tattoo blurs on both arms. His body stink mixed with the gin, smelling like an emergency room on the geriatric ward.

I quickly got back on my feet and tried to assess the situation. Krusty was trying to knock me out of the way to get at the guy. “Fuck you dirty piece of shit, I’m gonna kill you, pervert!” While I was doing my best to keep Krusty from killing him, the guy rolled over and dove for my legs, pulling me back on top of him. I tried not to land on him (I didn’t want to hurt the old drunk after all) and ended up smashing my knee on the hardwood floor. He was on top of me and stronger than I thought he’d be, but luckily he was too drunk to be much of a threat. We wrestled. I looked up from the fray and saw that the bar maid was now trying to hold Krusty back so me and the dude could fight it out, `man to man’. The rest of the bar cheered him on.

So, what the fuck am I supposed to do here; there are things in life that no one can prepare you for. Do I go easy, try to tire him out and hope he gives up? Do I beat the fuck out of him and hope I don’t go to jail? Is there a line of pissed WWII vets waiting in the wings to tagteam me into oblivion? Do I pull my knife and hope it scares him so I don’t have to use it? Does he have a knife? Does he have a gun? Is one of his buddies running back to the truck to get the 12 gauge? Are the police on their way? Is this guy gonna have a heart attack? What kind of an asshole fights a senior citizen? Why wasn’t I sticking to sports bars like my mediocre brethren? Why do I ever leave the house?

Think about it. If someone survives to be 75, they’re either total badasses, or they’re completely soft. Judging from this guy’s state, I be he was a real asskicker in his day. Talk about nothing to lose. How much does a 75 year old care about the future, unless s/he’s found God and is looking to get into heaven? Man, if I lived to be that old, I’d be fucked up all day long. Cocaine, hookers, LSD, X, a fifth of Dark Eyes and a quarterbag of redhair every day. Fuck Florida, screw the RV, I’d have it all in my head. No plaid shorts, no knee socks, no rants about how uppity the coloreds are getting, no Price is Right, no Wheel of Fortune. Fuck the grandkids, they ain’t getting shit for their birthdays; I’m blowing it all on booze. I’d be in a bar hitting on all the bluehaired mammas, looking to kick the shit out of any snotnosed brat with a stupid haircut.

So anyways, we roll around the floor for a while. It felt kind of like fighting a little kid, where he’s trying to kill you and you’re mostly just trying to make sure you don’t get hit in the nuts. The old guy had this glazed look in his eyes, like when a shark sinks it’s teeth into a huge chunk of chained meat on those nature shows; the eyes just roll back into the head and go blank. Fortunately, the only thing this guy was sinking his teeth into was a glass of Super Polydent later that night. I decided it would be best to ride this one out. My safety wasn’t really in risk, and there was no reason to escalate anything. Saving face isn’t anything I usually care about anyways. He got a few punches in before we finally got pulled apart. He fell over backwards, sprawled on the ground, completely out of breath with a half a smile on his face. His friends gathered around him and picked him up, cheering him for. Yeah, he’s the hero tonight. The barmaid, somewhat apologetic, suggested we leave before the cops showed up.

Outside on the sidewalk, Krusty was still fuming. I tried to calm her down a little.

“What did that old dude say to you?”

“You don’t wanna know. You’d go back in there and kill him if I told you.”

Strange pause.

“You wanna just grab a 6 pack, go home and listen to records?” I asked.

“Yeah, that sounds OK, pussy.”

“What?”

“You’re such a pussy. I would’ve killed him.”

“Yeah? Well, I’d get a new girlfriend while you were in jail.”

“I’d get my own new girlfriend in jail.”

“But she’d be all hairy.”

“I’d make her shave.”

“You don’t get razors in jail. Otherwise you could bust out the razorblade and kill your bunkmate.”

“Then why don’t all the guys have huge beards?”

“They have people who shave them. Prisoners get haircuts, do you think they give them scissors too?”

“They might give them those safety scissors.”

“Yeah, and they give them steak knives to carve the filet mignon.”

“Mmm. That sounds good.”

“Steak knives in prison?”

“No, steak in general.”

And with yet another inane conversation well on the way, we wandered home, speculating on how long it would take before we’d get kicked out of every bar on Pico and have to move up to Wilshire. Hopefully not too soon. I hear those places get pretty tough, especially the Elks Lodge.