Last night Mike and I went out drinking to a small dive on San Francisco. I went to the bar while Mike grabbed a table. By the time I had a pitcher of pisco and Sprite, Mike made two friends who joined our table.
Jesús and José were each 21. They were cool at first. We all drank our pitcher and their beer. At some point, I told José how much I don’t like pisco. He asked what I do like. Whiskey and vodka. He suggested we get a bottle of vodka. Everybody chipped in for a fifth of Stoli and Sprite. We got drunk.
Jesús commented on my size and used the subject as a transition to tell us about his karate. Jesús sat next to Mike on the other side of the table. So he was only annoying Mike with his karate talk while I talked to José. At one point he showed Mike a karate move, at the end of which he held Mike’s wrist with his arm extended out in front of his body, leaving Jesús in a significant position of leverage to move Mike’s upper body around at will. Mike is a nice guy with no macho insecurity issues. He doesn’t have anything to prove, so he noted that it was a good move and laughed it off.
Towards the end of the Stoli bottle, Mike and José went outside to smoke. I was now seated on a stool with my back against the wall, facing Jesus on the same side of the table.
Unfortunately Jesús brought up his karate again. He explained how fighting in Peru is dangerous. Why? Because people jump in. Or they use weapons. He told me which karate belt he had earned (I don’t remember which, but it wasn’t black). I tried to change the subject many times. He asked if I had any experience in fighting. I told him I used to box. He took a tone of claiming karate as superior to boxing, which is common among MMA fans, but I’d never heard that from a karate guy.
Like I said, I tried to change the subject. But he broke down my defenses when he told me that he could beat me up. No bullshit. This Peruvian of twenty-one years and weighing 150 pounds soaking wet confidently claimed he’d get the best of me with his karate in a “street fight.”
I explained this would be insulting in my country. Then I started my soapbox on the difference between fighting for free and fighting for money. Dudes who fight in bars and in the street generally ain’t shit compared to dudes who fight for money. Without addressing the subject of him vs. me or the obvious weight difference, I recommended that if he wanted to fight for money then he should go for it. But MMA and boxing are the only sports where you can earn. Not karate.
He brought up the “street fight” again. I showed him my right fist and explained that, if this hits you without a glove on it, it’s over. The only guys who could take this punch are professionals (guys who don’t fight for free).
Jesús tried to show me some karate. He probably meant to do his move in the air without touching me. The move was some flurry of his hands finished with an upward thrust of the elbow. He hit me in my chin with his right elbow.
I reacted. My first punch was a right hook around his hands that hit him in the eye. Seated with my back against the wall, I didn’t have my legs under me so the punch only had the force of my arm. It was enough to back him off and up from his stool.
I leapt up and hit him with a straight right. I don’t know exactly how many times I hit him. At least two, at most four. At least the right hook while seated and the straight right. The straight right may have been the first in a combo which would have been followed by a left and another right while he was going down. I don’t remember. I was drunk.
He went into a fetal position on the floor in the middle of the bar. A few guys from other tables stood up in front of me. I explained that I didn’t want any trouble. I got hit first. I didn’t know the word for ‘chin’ but I clearly communicated what happened. Somebody helped Jesús up onto a stool. He bent over between his knees and clutched his head. I left.
A group of guys followed me to where I found Mike and Jose on the sidewalk. They didn’t follow me threatening violence. I think they wanted to hang out. José was among them. Mike and I walked a few blocks with my fan club in tow and debated where to go.
Of all the fans, I decided to keep only José. I bid goodbye to the group, reiterating that I didn’t want any trouble and Jesús hit me first. Mike, José, and I headed to a botellaria by my place. We ordered beers and were immediately invited to a table of two guys in their forties and a woman in her early thirties. Mike talked to the woman while I talked to the old guys and prodded José into binge drinking.
At some point, I noticed the woman smiling and leaning towards Mike, engrossed in the conversation and dreamily staring at him. She was slightly overweight but cute. She seemed like an alcoholic barfly. I ordered my loyal wingman in English, “Tell her you have a girlfriend now!” Mike quickly worked into the conversation in his strong English accent, “Yo tengo una enamorada.”
The barfly withdrew and sat back in her chair, frowning. I grabbed her hand under the table and she smiled. After a few minutes, she told the old guys to take a picture. I put my cheek against hers and we smiled. After the flash I turned and kissed her. We made out. The old guys abruptly decided to go and insisted the barfly come with them. Probably for the better. I’d feel even worse today if I had also beaten up that fatty last night.
UPDATE – Mike later told me the guys from the bar weren’t a “fan club” at all. Jose owed one of them money. The only reason they hadn’t jumped on him was because Jesus was talking tough and acting as his protector. Then I unknowingly knocked him out, so Jose was left wide open. He followed us, and they were following him. But he dodged the bullet by sticking with us!
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