Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Lout, Clout, And A Happy Shout (part one: The Lout)

We went to a hockey game Friday night.

All three of us went, and we were enjoying the game in the middle of the first period when four people entered the row in front of us (it had been empty). All four of them were around thirty, three of them were men, and they were carrying two cups of beer each. The seats they sat down in weren't theirs (I heard them talking about it), but they had been empty, anyway.

I have a finely tuned Jackass Radar, and it started beeping.

They were loud. The girl looked like, well, a skank. They all had that "we're too cool for school" look. I was pretty sure that one of them was already drunk.

Worst of all, they were barely watching the game. The problem with hockey being such a fringe sport down here is that lots of people have no clue what hockey is all about--they don't even know the rules. They just come to get drunk and hopefully see a few fights.

The first period ended, and the guy who came in drunk moved to sit directly in front of us. Then he moved over to the aisle to make a phone call, and every third word out of his mouth was "f---ing." It was loud, even between periods, and I didn't think Eli 8.8 could hear him (I barely could), but the guy was clearly drunk, and it wasn't a good sign going forward.

[Context: I curse all the time, but never around Eli. In almost nine years, the worst word he's ever heard me use is "crap," and that's only been two or three times. I know he'll hear it all eventually, but I'm going to delay it as long as I can. Innocence is a wonderful, happy place for kids.]

Within the first few minutes of the second period, it was clear that I was going to have to say something to this guy. Then two players on the ice dropped gloves, and he stood up and yelled "F--- HIS SHIT UP!"

I tapped him on the shoulder, and when he turned around I said, "There's an eight -year-old sitting right behind you. Could you do me a favor and lay off the f-bombs?"

He motioned me to lean in toward him, and he said (in a low voice just above a whisper), "Well, I'll try, but since I'm an AMERICAN, I'll probably do whatever the FUCK I want."

Oh, wow--that guy just basically encapsulated every problem I have with this country in one sentence.

Make no mistake: this guy was ready to throw down. I was almost twenty years older than him, he outweighed me by thirty pounds (at least), and I was with my family, but he was ready to go, and he wanted to make sure I knew.

Look, there was a part of me that was really angry and wanted to kick the guy's ass.


Except--oh wait--I can't physically kick anyone's ass. I couldn't kick Mr. Bean's ass. I'm not built that way. I kick ass in spelling bees and SAT's. I'm the fighting equivalent of that kid in YMCA soccer who spends all his time picking wildflowers and pretending to be a lion.

So even without Eli 8.8 there, fighting really wasn't an option. Plus, fighting is stupid, and I'm not.

There was really only one thing I could do. I tattled.

I went to the section usher, who was about 4'10" and slightly stout, and I gave her the rundown:
1. He's drunk
2. He's dropping f-bombs every thirty seconds.
3. He's a dick.
4. My son is right behind him.

We've sat in this lady's section before, and I love her, because she takes no crap from anyone. I apologized for putting her in an awkward situation, and she said no problem, she'd take care of it.

And she did. She called the guy over and read him the riot act, and he came back over, offered his hand, and apologized. It was all bullshit, of course--his eyes told me that--but I couldn't believe he was doing it.

A few minutes, section usher Juanita Rambo Smurf was joined by a security guard who looked like Vin Diesel but twice as mean. He didn't do anything but stand there for a few minutes, but the message was clear.

Problem solved, right?

Well, not exactly, because this arena (incredibly) has seat service for food and drinks, and waitresses kept bringing these losers beer. Clearly, at a minimum, U.S. American was quite drunk, and his friends weren't far behind, and the section usher was less than fifteen feet away, but the beers kept coming.

There were two other guys, about my age (and who looked about as aggressive as I do), who were sitting next to Gloria, and as the third period was about to begin, they started to walk past me to get back to their seats. On their way, though, they stopped, and one of them put his hand on my shoulder and said, "If that guy is about to go, motion to us. We'll be right down."

Good grief. EVERYBODY hated this guy. It was turning into the AHL version of West Side Story, except instead of Sharks vs. Jets, it was Grays vs. Dicks.

I later heard, from random loud conversation, that U.S. American was named "Jay," and in a split second, my brain worked in a way that my fists never, ever will. I didn't actually have this conversation, but here's what I wanted to say:
"Hey! Your name is Jay? Mine, too! Except we can't have the same last name, because mine isn't 'Douchebag'."

Yeah--that wouldn't get me into trouble or anything.

When the game was in its last few minutes (and U.S. American had spilled an entire beer a few minutes previous), the waitress came by to tell his friends that he shouldn't drive. Great.

Anyway, we all survived, and Eli 8.8 said he hadn't heard a thing (although he thought all four of them were quite annoying, which they were).

We'll go back, and I'm looking forward to it, but I'm making sure it's not $2 beer night first.

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