I caught the movie “Law Abiding Citizen” this past weekend. You know the one, the ripped guy from “300” drops ridiculous one-liners (It's gonna be biblical!), things blow up and the guy from “Booty Call” manages to pull off the same intense countenance for two straight hours. The movie's meant to examine the cracks in our justice system and certain unethical behaviors used to make the law work.
While “Citizen” has left me desiring the ability to kill people from remote locations, it did little to stand out in my mind. That is, until an altercation at a bar a few nights ago. In the movie, drink and drug abusers roam free, fights are a dime a dozen and common sense is used sparingly if at all. It reminded me of the bar and its faithful.
I'm 18 years old, first entering a pub in Wilmington, N.C., with fake ID in tow, and scared shitless. A dark room, booze, loud music, gigantic bouncers, beautiful women —there was enough to frighten any freshman. Eight years later, bars no longer scare me, probably because those gigantic bouncers are on my team now, but I'm sure many of you can relate to my early alehouse adventures. It's that excitement and, in some cases, unpredictability, that make bars fun.
I bring this up because of an incident last week involving me, a drunken patron, some bouncers and a very hard front door — a scuffle that briefly made me feel 18 and helpless again. The patron was grossly outnumbered yet still had the alcohol courage to attempt some sort of Chuck Norris-type maneuver, with no success. Luckily no one was seriously hurt, but you can see how this situation, like others, could have been dangerous.
As a bar fight always tends to do, it made me wonder whether I'm in the right line of work. Bars are inherently unsafe. Some much more so than others, but anywhere the alcohol flows and people congregate will always have that powder-keg potential. I mean we've all seen the Oscar-worthy, yet somehow overlooked, classic, “Road House,” right?
I've been smashed in the face with a full bottle of Corona and seen other men (and women) knocked out cold, and let me tell you, it never gets any less scary. Much of the onus is on the bar proprietors and their ability to provide a safe haven for fun and to not overserve anyone, but it also falls upon the patron. No bar or bartender wants trouble, and by working on the same page with us, you can keep the peace and help us avoid using foreheads as door openers. Know when to say “I've had enough.” It's that easy.
Or better yet, don't be an asshole and I won't be an asshole — a compromise that would go a long way toward filling the cracks in our own little perverse, alcohol-flooded system. In other words, we'll be slightly buzzed, law-abiding citizens.