In Dave Gilmartin's 2006 book "The Absolute Worst Places To Live in America," Allston, Massachusetts took top honors as one of the most dreadful towns in the country. During my college years in Cambridge, I used to trek out to Allston regularly for house parties, and I can't say Mr. Gilmartin's assessment is fallacy. Venturing home from Allston to my house in Harvard Square was always a unique experience, and if I made it back without stepping in vomit or tripping over a dead cat, I considered my night a success. While not without its charms, Allston was, in a word, really fucking gross (ok, three words). I could lament the bodily fluids caking every curbside, or bemoan the pervasive bedbug infestation which seemed to never end, but by far my favorite aspect of Allston was the fact that its residents seemed to have no problem with bringing their domestic disputes right out into the street. I suppose it's not a characteristic exclusive to Allston, but the nature of the fights always had a special flavor to them. I remember one night I watched as a dude stormed out of a house with a forty of Miller Light in his hand, followed by a girl wearing nothing but a pair of Juicy Couture sweatpants, and as the guy got into his car and sped off, the girl screamed, "FINE! BUT WHO YOU GONNA GET YER HEROIN FROM NOW?" I could only stand in place dumbfounded–mostly out of shock that anyone in Allston could afford heroin.
Last night, I could have been back in Allston. I was walking home from a bar, and as I rounded the corner onto my street, I could hear a commotion down the road. I approached the rising bedlam and came across a man standing with his hands in his pockets, calmly watching two girls beat the crap out of each other.
I halted next to the man, taken aback at the unfolding chaos, unable to do much of anything but watch. When I say the girls were beating each other senseless, I mostly mean there was a lot of name-calling, hair-pulling, and angry slapping. I'm sure not all girls fight this way, and I'm certainly not passing judgment on any one girl's fighting technique–I'm certain 95% of the female population could pulverize me. Regardless, I think the primary reason I didn't intervene is because neither of the girls seemed to really be hurting each other.
Eventually, they sort of clumsily wrestled each other to the ground, and one of the girls unleashed a move I've seen my cat perform numerous times. Sometimes, when my cat's really mad at me, she'll wrap her paws around my ankle and proceed to kick me senseless with her hind legs. I never thought I'd see a human utilize the same tactic, but it was surprisingly successful.
At that point I was becoming lucid to the awkwardness of the situation, and started to feel wildly uncomfortable standing there. Finally, I spoke up to the dude next to me.
It's probably a mistake to make assumptions about any single group of people, but if there's one thing I've learned from watching reality TV, it's that white girls are indeed unpredictable when then get into tussles. Granted, when white chicks fight on TV, they're usually drunk on Patrón and competing for the love of some aging rock star, so it's probably not the best representation of Caucasian females. And for that matter, all I really know about black ladies is that they make a point of taking off their earrings before they fight, which leads me to believe they're more serious about it and thusly more skillful warriors. As far as television is concerned, there aren't really any other races to speak of, unless they need a Hispanic cleaning lady or an Asian computer expert (Asian lesbian if it's a computer hacker).
Anyway, my point is I wasn't about to step in a break up a fight with my admittedly little knowledge of girlfights. Truth be told, I've only been in one real fight myself, and I'd prefer not to put myself in that situation again.
That's right, it's time for a...
My one true fight happened in middle school, but I remember it like it was yesterday; in fact I'm getting a black eye just thinking about it. I was riding the school bus home one afternoon, and if I close my eyes I can almost hear Lou Bega's Mambo Number 5 crackling out of the bus's tinny speakers. If there's a worse soundtrack to get pummeled by, I can't think of anything more terrible than Lou Bega.
Sitting behind me was the school bully, though I can't quite remember his name. Alan? Alec? Aaron? Dicklips McDouchebag? Something like that. He was punching the back of my seat, not because he didn't like me, but simply because I was the closest target and easiest outlet for his aggression.
I don't think he even knew who I was, and he certainly didn't care. But what he also didn't realize was that our mothers worked together, and as I sat there steeping in frustration, I recalled something I had overheard my mom mention on the phone weeks ago. Something about the kid's family, something I probably wasn't meant to hear. Something I should never had used as fodder for retaliation, but my blood was beginning to boil. He just WOULDN'T. STOP. PUNCHING.
So finally, I lost it.
I deserved it. I really did. Hunched in a ball, futilely blocking punches, I'd knew I'd made a huge mistake, not just because I was getting annihilated, but because I had aimed so low and said something truly cruel. Getting the tar beaten out of you certainly isn't a pleasant experience by any means, but it's not as bad as I would've imagined. It hurts, sure, but it's mostly just shocking and confusing–the real pain comes later, when you have the time to decompress and realize that even your bruises have bruises.
The abuse was thankfully short, broken up by the bus driver in what must have been a common occurrence for her. She separated us, and as she shuffled back to the front of the bus, I swore I heard her mutter something about her blood pressure and miserable pension.
And yes, I realize that might be an anticlimactic end to such an epic battle, so here's my delusional reimagining of events, inspired by Street Fighter II:
I'd like to claim I'm a lover, not a fighter, but that's simply not true. When playing videogames I become far too focused on blowing up civilians, and I only bought The Sims so I could trap my Sim in a room full of ovens and wait until he set himself on fire. I'm ashamed to say I regularly have dreams about beating the crap out of people–in fact I think I beat up a child–so I clearly have a horrible violent core underneath the soft flesh and impeccably groomed beard. Mostly, I just suck at fighting, and I don't like getting hit. If there were some way for me to clobber people without any repercussions, I imagine I'd just never stop punching. I'd be a human cloud of fists, wrecking havoc across the world.
I don't know which one of those girls won the fight last night, as I didn't stick around in the end. There were no corpses left in the street the following morning, so either one of them arose victorious and they simply went home, or city's waste management program is really on top of their game. Portland has great civic planning, so who knows how many dead white girls are discreetly removed from the streets in the wee hours before dawn? It's what makes America great. That and Starbucks.