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by Peter Moskos

December 4, 2015

Jew for a Day

So I was in this 3 AM bar fight last night. More of a scuffle really. Technically I won, if such a thing is possible. (Does anybody really win a 3 AM bar fight?) Now those who know me know my fuse in long. I don't go looking for fights, because I don't want to lose a fight. Hell, I've never even been in a bar fight. But sometimes, well, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

I was minding my own business (of course) nursing a Smithwicks, and next thing you know, not far from me, a guy is getting choked out. Hmmmmm. The choker has the guy in a classic arm-bar choke hold. I'm looking at this thinking, is he choking him by the throat or carotid artery? While I'm processing the scene, the guy I was talking to, a cop (recently retired), starts shouting, "Don't choke him out. Let him go. Don't kill him. Don't choke him out." It was a carotid hold; the cop was thinking faster than me.

The choker lets up. He doesn't choke him out. The chokee stumbles to his feet. The choker gathers his belongings and high tails it on out of the bar. Word at the bar is that the chokee, a white guy maybe 30 years old, started the mess by accusing the the choker, a brown skinned guy, of being a terrorist. A Muslim terrorist.

The cop informs the loser that since he, the cop, just saved his life, he, the loser, needs to buy him a drink. The chokee slides the cop his J├Ągermeister. The cop turns it down and demands a real drink. The loser buys him a whiskey.

I'm thinking it doesn't seem right that the guy who got called a terrorist left (thought it a wise choice to do so) and the guy who thinks called a brown person a terrorist is still here. There's some side debate as to whether the choker even was Muslim. But whatever.

Maybe fifteen minutes later a few people go out to smoke or pee and now there's nobody between me and self-proclaimed patriot. I ask him, "Did you really call him a Muslim terrorist?" He hems and haws but does not deny. A press a bit and he he admits that yes, he thinks he is a terrorist.

I say: "You called a stranger in a bar a Muslim terrorist? Well, you deserved to get choked out."

In an ignorant way too common among fools, he boasts, "I'm an American!"

"We're all Americans here." I point out, "This is America."

He gets closer to me. I take note that he's drunker and slower than me as he points his finger at my chest and says, "Are you a Christian, or A JEW?"

No. Not in my city. Not in my bar. I figure if a first scuffle didn't get him kicked out, a second one sure will. I don't lose my temper. I'm not angry. In a calculated move I knock him from his bar stool and drag him to the ground and try and get my hands around his fleshy throat.

He resists, of course. My glasses go flying (which shows I'm a novice--an experienced fighter would know to remove any glasses before a scuffle). I end up on top. A patron rescues my glasses. No punches are thrown. We get separated. I don't even get an adrenaline rush.

I inform the bar, "He has to go." He bellies up and tries to order another drink. "No," I instruct him, "you have to go." The bartender says, "Not before he settles up." The bartender makes him pay (no buy-backs for him), and he leaves.

The cop buys me a drink.

The bartender (who actually isn't an American) sheepishly admits in his Slovak accent, "I'm not a fighter." Neither am I.


john mosby said...

Prof, you really want to amend this with a subhead that says something like "urban fiction loosely inspired by real events."

Even though broken windows is over, and even the most hawkish ASA would hesitate to prosecute mutual combat where all the participants and witnesses are drunk, still...deep pockets and all....


(i.e., the stripes on your doctoral robe - get it?)


Moskos said...

Another anti-Muslim hate crime in Astoria: