In this corner… weighing over 200 pounds, in his hometown of Keller, Texas, we have Jeff “Surprised to suddenly be participating in this fight” Young!
In this corner… we have some random drunk guy that James brought over to play cards, who has suddenly revealed some impulse control and boundary issues!
Are you ready to Rummmmmmmble?
No, I was not ready to rumble. I was ready to sit on a couch and exchange witty banter and vulgar stories and drink whiskey with my friends. Instead, I found myself with a big idiot jumping on my lap, trying to pin my arms down.
I don’t have a temper. I can usually defuse fights with wordplay. “Psst. Hey man, between you and me, you look like you need a hug. No no no, not from me – watch this. OKAY LADIES, free drinks for whoever hugs this big ugly dude over here. Now don’t hold him too long, he looks like he might have ticks.”
Whenever you see the macho escalation of two guys posturing and yelling “You want some of this?!?” and “You want to say that to my face?!?” and “Do you want to take that outside?!?”, I can’t help but to grin. It reminds me of the kinds of primal behavior that you see on National Geographic — the silliest and worst of our human instincts. I call it the Gorilla Standoff. The male gorilla beats his chest, bristles out his spine fur, runs off the other gorilla, grabs a flower, sticks in up his butt, then eats it.
Our version of conflict resolution is almost as elegant.
I’ve learned from my friend Jack Reacher that all plans go out the window just as soon as you get punched in the mouth. No matter how fast your brain goes in that fight-or-flight moment, the slippery crunch of a fist hitting your teeth and lips is enough to make you forget your next move.
Here’s how it played out…
Big Random Idiot jumps on me while I’m lounging on my couch. Out of nowhere.
What is this guy doing? Okay he’s holding my arms down – Is he kidding? I don’t think he’s kidding. If I can just…. No… he’s pretty strong. Yep I’m pinned. Okay, defuse this before it gets out of hand.
“Okay you big dummy, you win, whatever, ha ha, look how strong you are. Now get off me before I sic Ralphie on you.” (Ralphie is my timid little terrier).
Big Random Idiot responds by punching me in the face, and re-pins my arms back down. Our faces are 8 inches away, and now he look possessed. He reeks of pink lemonade vodka and I can tell he’s not a big fan of flossing.
Whoa whoa wait, am I in a fight? I haven’t been in a fight in years. We didn’t do the Gorilla Standoff yet. Okay this is happening, I gotta get this guy off me. Damn that hurt. I forgot all my sweet hypothetical fight moves.
He hops into a full straddle, facing me. I’m totally pinned, adrenaline is up, and I’m losing energy fast. My shoes are trying to grab traction with the floor for leverage, but I’m basically trapped like a turtle on my back, with the weight of both of us pushing me down into the couch.
Okay let’s keep cool here. If I can just get my arms free, then I can … I wonder what my dental co-pay is. I think it’s 20% plus the deductible?
I pull an arm lose and we scuffle in a flurry of hands, trying to contain each other’s fists. I take a hard elbow to the chin and feel and hear my jaw pop.
Everybody in the house is now standing, watching in shock, paralyzed by surprise. Ralphie – who I’ve learned is worthless in an emergency – is barking maniacally, and we’re kicking furniture everywhere.
Okay brain, let’s do something here! Protect protect protect! No wait, hurt him hurt him hurt him! No wait, protect protect protect. What would Chuck Norris do?
Just as he grabs both wrists to pin them again, I swipe left with both arms, briefly pulling his arms along, then follow with my right elbow and crack him in the side of the head with it. Having stunned him for a second, I‘m momentarily able to twist my hips slightly, just enough to get my right foot on the ground. Then I push hard and pivot, and I’m off my back. Ok now we have a fair fight.
I punch him in his left ribs with a hard right jab, throw him onto the couch, and pin him down.
Ha ha! Now the glove is on the other foot. Whoa, we got some wild knees here. Protect the Boys.
Although he’s taller, I’ve got the weight advantage, and I press my body against him to wear him out. The strategy is also heavily influenced by my complete exhaustion. I realize I’ve been holding my breath for a whole minute, and I stop and remember to breathe. We do the grabbing-for-wrists thing again, but this time when I grab his wrist, I pin his arm under my knee, giving me a free arm.
Yay, this is finally starting to go my way … Whoa, note to self, that plant really needs watering. No stay focused! This is important.
I use my free forearm to jam in Big Random Idiot’s neck, choking the bejeezus out of him for about 20 seconds, then give him a chance to submit. Finally he taps my arm, indicating surrender. I climb off and tell him he’s lucky I don’t kick a new hole in his face. He gets up and then proceeds to barf all over my guest bathroom for the next hour. I limp away, completely out of energy, shaking as the adrenaline works its way out of my bloodstream.
I would find out later that he had earlier drank 15 shots of (my) pink lemonade vodka and would not remember the incident.
In retrospect, one of the funniest moments from the scuffle – as brief as it was – was that I had invited a new couple over to join our card game for the first time. They happened to walk in during the middle of it, and asked “Are we at the right place?”.
(I’ve never been accused of making a good first impression.)
In the aftermath of the fight, I ended up with a bruised chin, a body full of bruises, and I learned that my dog – while awesome at snuggling – is not quick to action when I’m fighting to the death.