I've gotten into a few fights in my time. Dumb ones. Only twice has this resulted in any actual physical altercation.
Once was at a bar; this is why I have a chip in one of my upper front incisors.
A friend and I went to one of the bars in Deep Ellum and I had lent her my copy of Art Speigleman's Maus. I don't know why she decided to read it in a bar, but that's what she was doing. While we were sitting there, a skin-head (and I mean the fascist kind, not the SHARPs) came up and made a move on my book.
"What's this Zionist propaganda bullshit?"
He reached for the book and I reached to stop him; I didn't want it getting fucked up. That's when he turned my attention to me and started going on about how the holocaust was faked and it was all a big plot by the Jews to rob the German people and he was just carrying on with this crap.. I had to shut him up.
"Oh, yeah, it was faked all right. And weren't the Nazis nice enough to provide all the recording equipment? How nice of them to provide all the footage of the biggest scam in history! Fuck off."
He asked me what my name was, and I was feeling particularly combative, so I used my Mom's maiden name and added, "I'm a member of the inferior Slavic race. What of it?"
He pulled back to clock me.
This is not where I got the chipped tooth. He announced I wasn't "good enough to strike" and lowered his arm; but the guys playing pool had heard enough and one of the pool-cues wound up across the skin-head's shoulders. A huge melee ensued and I turned around to see that my friend had disappeared.
I chipped the tooth while diving under a pool table. As I've said before, I am a tall woman and this time I forgot how tall I was. I busted my lip and chipped the tooth; after hiding under the pool table for a few minutes, my brain stopped rattling and I started thinking again. "Wow, this pool table is pretty heavy. If someone was, say, thrown on top of this thing, it might collapse and kill my scrawny ass."
I hooked up with the friend later. She had dashed into the bathroom at the first sign of trouble. The book made it out okay.
Another time I opened my fat trap was at an Ace checking place. This was soon after I got my pace at Glendale Oaks (the roach motel) and Cris was living in the suburbs with his mother-in-law-to-be. I was working at Bookstop and had finished shelving my section, so I was helping out in the "green" section. Green included medical and self-help, so all day I was shelving books with titles like "How To Get Him Back" and "Living with the Loss of a Love" and "Why Don't They Love Me?" and shit like that. Cris called me at work and our conversation was brief but with pauses. I felt like crap and went home early.
On the way home I stopped by the Ace to cash my check. I had to go to Ace because somebody hadn't signed some forms taking care of a certain lease and I couldn't get a checking account.
The Ace was packed. I stood in line--fuming--for forty-five minutes. I wasn't feeling well and the wait didn't help. I was also the only white person there--and I mean white. Oh, so painfully white.
When it was finally my turn, this guy who was sitting on the bench got up and put his stuff down. Now, I'll credit the chick who worked there, because she put his stuff aside and started the process of cashing Mila's check. I guess being behind three inches of plexi-glass gives you that kind of power and courage.
Anyway, the guy started griping that she'd put his stuff to the side, she told him to wait his turn in line, and he argued it was, even asking me, "Wasn't it my turn in line?"
"Now, why you lying?"
"I'm not lying."
"Well, you ain't telling the truth!"
"I'm just not telling your version."
"Well, that guy was holding my place in line."
"That guy that just left."
"Fine," I pointed to the door, "You better go chase him down."
"Well, my woman was holding my place."
"Your woman's been sitting with you on that bench for the past five minutes. I've been standing in line for forty-five. Why don't you try cutting off someone twice your size or try waiting like the rest of us."
Now, the woman behind the glass was chuckling to herself the whole time, which makes me think that he'd pulled this kind of shit before. I told her I needed a money order while the line-jumper carried on. That's when I heard him say:
"Bitch is gonna get herself slapped."
This is where I got dumb. I wasn't thinking clearly to begin with--and I was in a well-lit, public place--so I decided to call his bluff.
"Ooooo.... I'm being threatened now because I'm not afraid of the big bad black man."
(Before we go any further, let me state I am not a racist. I am a culturalist and an intellectual snob. I've never had a problem with the color of someone's skin; I just have problems with some ideas they have in their heads. This guy thought I was going to back down because I was afraid of a stereotype. I wasn't afraid and I wasn't going to back down and it pissed him off.)
He responded in kind. "That's not a threat--that's a promise."
And here's where I got really fucking stupid. "Well, why don't you just slap me now? Or are you just a signifyin' liar?"
He pulled back for a punch and I really don't remember much after that. When I got back inside my head I was completely turned around and the guy was lying on the floor with his head at my feet and his feet towards the door. As near as I can figure, I must have grabbed his wrist and shoulder and flipped him--but I can't be sure what happened. I don't even remember if the crowd in the Ace laughed, cheered, applauded, or scowled. I just grabbed my stuff and left.
I was bullshit lucky both times.
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