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Time, Place, and Manner

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A Night Like Any Other

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Everywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy

Cause summer's here, and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy

- The Rolling Stones, “Street Fighting Man”

It wasn’t a particularly exciting fight card, but hell, it was a reason to get together with some good friends and drink; although at this point in our lives we hardly feel the need to justify our drinking. So we met up at a sports bar to watch UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz. By the time I get there I’ve already had a few beers, so as soon as I sit down I order a Guinness, because I need to slow down if I plan on drinking for the rest of the night. The rest of the party arrives and the fights begin. At some point one of my buddies gets into a political debate with the Nordic girl sitting to my left. I’m thinking, “How the hell did this happen?” Clearly more alcohol is needed to dilute this conversation so that we may get back to a more pressing issue: What the fuck is Dennis Hallman wearing?

Banana hammocks aside, it’s a good night so far. As we get closer to the main event for the evening we’re trying to decide what to do next. By now I’ve left beer and gone the more conservative route of vodka tonics* because I’m realizing I may have to drive some of these animals home. The Nordic girl recommends a strip club, because apparently that’s what you do in Norway after a night of drinking and watching fights. Personally I’ve never seen the appeal of strip clubs. I’ve been to one in my life and it raised too many questions that I couldn’t answer. Why am I paying $8 for a Miller Lite? Why am I rewarding women for giving me blue balls? Why did I pay that girl $20 for a lap dance when she didn’t dance for me? She barely grinded on me as she told me the prices for all of the other “services” she provides. Why can’t I get the smell of cocoa butter off of me?

I reason that instead of a strip club we should move the party to a house. I even volunteer to pick up some liquor on the way. Because I’m the most sober I end up driving as many people as will fit in my car. We head to the liquor store and as I’m wandering the aisles the drunkest guy in our group has already bought two fifths of some damn decent dark rum. The correlation between rising levels of BAC and rising levels of generosity are truly remarkable.

We get to the house and are immediately greeted with the story of how the car driven by the Nordic girl was pulled over, and she doesn’t have a valid license. No one seems particularly upset about it, so I decide it isn’t worth listening to if nothing exciting happened. Plus, there’s more drinking to be done.

My memory is a little fuzzy on how, but I convinced the really drunk guy who bought the rum and the Nordic girl to exchange jeans. I figured they were both skinny enough that it had to work. The weird thing is he looked like an average hipster after the switch: skinny guy with excessive facial hair in tight white jeans and a black t-shirt.

How did we end up outside? The first bottle of rum went fast, and the second bottle isn’t fairing any better. Now we’re watching two men doing their best Rashad Evans and Tito Ortiz impressions in the backyard. They both suck at it. Punches pulled to half-strength at the last moment, probably more out of fear of hurting their own hand that the other guy's ribs, and mostly just a lot of clumsy grappling and wrestling, and a whole lot of "Okay, hold on, wait, no, let me grab you here, okay, go back, let me try again, wait."

You see, it doesn’t matter how many disclaimers they post, there will always be people who will try it at home while the rest of us watch from a safe distance and silently pray that natural selection handles the rest. Their mix of timidity and incompetence meant we weren't like to see any real action, but like watching NASCAR, you still hold out hope that someone might get hurt.

What causes us to behave this way? It isn’t the alcohol. Alcohol is just the lubricant. We do it because we need to. We need to let go in the most primal of ways. Everything that builds up during the week: work assignments, student loan accruals, arguments with significant others… all forgotten in that moment.

It’s no coincidence that everyone at that party was from a white-collar background. We’re living in an almost purely service-based economy, and this is how we find a balance. We’re tired of thinking. We crave something physical. Unfortunately we still feel entitled to the point where any manufacturing or manual labor job is perceived as being beneath us. In a world where we slowly wither away in cubicle shaped prisons, how else are we supposed to feel alive?

Things could have been a lot worse though. It's not like I was punching myself out front of a dive bar.

* I blame my Russian blood. I can drink a fifth’s worth of vodka tonics and feel fine, but get more than four beers in me and I’m spent. ^

[Read more from Shadow Hand]


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