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Mama's First Bar Fight


Dear Tressa,


I had an unbelievable night at your bar last night. Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.

I donned my holiday apparel - candy-striped stockings, matching red garters, and a red tutu with a green hoodie. And of course my red heart love necklace. I am known for wearing my heart on the outside.


The folks in your bar were entertained with my holiday cheer and the staff pleasant, and “on it” as they have been for the last 13 years I’ve been coming to celebrate birthdays, holidays, great music and dancing.


My girlfriend squeezed up to the bar to order us drinks. The yummy Pisgah Pale Ale poured a little over the glass, so when she passed it back to me, a little splashed out onto the woman sitting nearby. She made a great production of having beer on her, and Sandy apologized profusely. I reached over with my napkin and dabbed at the small bit on her red polyester dress and also apologized. The snarl on her face made me feel that our apologies were not sufficient to calm her. Her man stared blankly from the stool behind her. Sandy leaned back to look at me with a “can you believe the scene this girl is creating?” look on her face. I put my arm around her, pulled her close and told her not to worry. We giggled at the sour look on the woman’s face.


At this point, red dress snarled, “Look, I get that y’all are LESBIANS, my daughter is too...” It was a mix of disbelief, shock and amusement that I felt and had no idea how to respond. Clearly she was having issue with her daughter being lesbian. Her angst clearly had nothing to do with the smell of beer on her cheap dress.


“Look, I’m really sorry - we apologized - what do you need to feel better?” I asked with my biggest, most genuine smile. “This is the sweetest woman you will EVER meet! She would probably give you her shirt to make you feel better!”


She stopped me short and said, “Maybe your GIRLFRIEND could be a little more careful!”

I thought, how ridiculous to sit at a bar and be offended when you go home smelling like a bar. I told myself she was just looking for trouble.


“Maybe you shouldn’t sit at the bar with that pretty dress,” I suggested to a dull, blank stare, her eyes round and not understanding kindness. “That table right over there would be a safer bet.” She didn’t seem to understand these words, so I continued. “Maybe you should go home.” I was no longer smiling.


Now. I realize this was where my mistakes began. I’m sorry for this.


It didn’t seem as if my words were really resonating past the plastic makeup of her face as she aggressively spat her words over mine, her hot breath washing my cheek. I leaned away, pulling Sandy a little closer. Sandy, freshly heartbroken from her partner of 16 years. We have been supporting each other throughout our recent emotional depths of sadness and tonight decided to shake off the tears by shaking a leg. I’m not even sure what the woman was saying. I was only aware of the way her perm was held in place by aerosol hairspray, stiff and large. I was only aware of the oval of her mouth moving over her longish teeth, her lipstick cracked along the lines of her lips, and the smell of her fruity drink. The yapping was incessant, angry, and misdirected. I wanted it to stop. I wanted to find a place close to the dance floor.


There were no words for this woman. In my right hand was my beer, just two sips gone, in my left was the balled up napkin I had used to blot at her dress. In my chest was a bubble of rage to which I was applying long, deep breaths. That’s when I realized that i was now stuffing the napkin into her mouth as she sat there wide-eyed, letting me. The yapping stopped. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. I hadn’t thought about anything beyond making the pie hole close. So I turned away, looking for a place on the dance floor. That’s when I realized that my head was being yanked back, her hand buried deep into my long curls.


I was stunned. Hair-pulling? This was probably the most embarrassing part of the event. My sister did that to me once when I was 14. I remember it well. I have to admit that I also thought, my god, I could destroy this woman. I teach an adult gymnastics class where I lift and fling men over my shoulder nearly a foot taller than me and outweigh me by 40 pounds. I have biceps that I’ve never used for anything other than pull-ups, wood splitting, and carrying children, but now I had the complete desire to pummel her face.


My beer sloshed, and I didn’t want it to spill on anybody, God-forbid. So with my head locked by her grip, I reached over Sandy to carefully place my glass on the bar. None spilled! My intent was now clear to me. I was going to yank her out of her bar stool onto the floor. Subdue her. Put her somewhere safe so that she could not hurt me or Sandy. Make her lie down for a quick minute. Maybe even put my boot print on the front of that stupid dress. I grabbed her by the back of the head and lowered her to the floor. She let go of my hair. The music continued. I no longer heard voices. I just wanted to dance? God, that first beer was tasting good and I wanted another sip. It was then I noticed a large man standing between us, shoving his chest into my face. The bouncer. I wanted desperately to get around him to finish, but immediately realized that I had to let it go. This was inappropriate. I had stooped to her level. I had allowed the rage to flow out.


I have never been in a fight before. I’m usually the one to break things up, calm situations down with sweetness, and teach my 10-year-old to let things go. “Just let it go,” I told him last week when he said somebody knocked his books out of his arms as they were running by. “It’s ok. You can’t stop someone from being an asshole. That’s up to them.”

I looked at the bartender - for sure he saw what had happened? Surely SOMEBODY saw her homophobic rage, here in the gay bar?! The back of my head was hurting. I was certain a chunk of hair was missing.


But the bartender looked angry at me. He was shouting “OUT! YOU! OUT!” and pointing to the door. “Me?!” I incredulously mouthed. “Oh my god...what have I done?!”

That’s when I realized that there would be no explanations. He was busy. He had a responsibility to make the situation better - it had nothing to do with who was at fault. We just needed to be out of there so that the band could play and the people could get their buzzes on and dance. I considered taking a long slug of my beer but didn’t want anyone to think I wasn’t following directions.


I didn’t make eye contact with anyone. I calmly turned and headed for the door, straightening my tutu back down over my ass. I hoped I looked sexy. I didn’t even say anything to my friends. They would be on their way. I hoped they would first enjoy their drinks. I stepped outside into the cool air and leaned against the glass at the next door restaurant…the Over Easy. I waited.


$40 in five minutes, and I’m standing outside thirsty. I laughed at myself huddled in the cold as my friends tumbled out to find me.


I’m sorry. Truly sorry. Merry Christmas.


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