Monday, January 19, 2009


I've been in exactly three fistfights in my life, and all of them happened between the ages of 12 and 15. I've never been the type of guy that incites people to want to punch me in the face. First of all, I usually keep my thoughts to myself. Secondly, I tend to make people mad by saying their favorite movie or band sucks, not by calling their mother a whore. The kind of people you usually get into arguments with over movies or music are rarely the same people that brandish broken Miller Lite bottles. They wear far too many cardigan sweaters for that sort of thing, and would likely be afraid that a fistfight would result in a broken iPhone.

All this changed yesterday when I had my first physical disagreement (I wouldn't elevate it to the level of a "fight") in...well, some years. I had the misfortune of attending the NFC Championship Game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Arizona Cardinals, with the winner advancing to the Super Bowl. As an Eagles fan in the Cardinals' stadium, it was already a dicey situation. But then the Cardinals actually won. If you are a sports fan, you know how utterly ridiculous this sounds. If you are not a sports fan, it would probably help to point out that a Cardinals appearance in the Super Bowl is mentioned in the Book of Revelation right after the part about the sun turning black as sackcloth and the moon turning red as blood. They've been so bad and so ignored by their "fans" for so long that I'm pretty certain part of the ensuing celebration was fueled by a realization that in fact Arizona had a professional football team.

My friend Jason and I were exiting the stadium and walking somberly back to the parking lot in stunned silence. The promenade outside the stadium was jammed with happy Cardinals fans and despondent Eagles fans, with a few mounted policemen around to keep the peace. Suddenly I heard a drunken yell of "Eagles suck!" as I was jumped by one of the few guys present who was bigger than me. He bear hugged me and attempted to tackle me. I threw him off me and charged him, shoving him back, whereupon he invited me to engage in sexual congress with myself. I was suggesting that he do the same when another Cardinals fan nearby decided that this looked like a fun time and got up into my face with similar language. At this point, with apologies to Dustin Hoffman, I think I actually said "I'm just walkin' here!" I was still astonished that somebody would jump me when all I was doing was minding my own business, walking with my head down. Especially when his team won. The first guy charged me again but was held back by someone, and then three other guys were headed my way but were blocked by the police. They must have either assumed I was the troublemaker or just didn't care because I was wearing the wrong color jersey. And I'm sure they knew no one would take note. Rude fan behavior is only reported and decried when someone from Philadelphia does it.

What really scared me about this episode was my own reaction. I went from placidly depressed to pistol-whipping homicidal in about 0.2 seconds. I know what temporary insanity is now, because I became so enraged so fast that I absolutely would have stomped that guy's neck given the chance. In that moment I was filled with righteous rage and completely capable of an atrocious act. I just felt so wronged that in my mind nothing I could do that that guy would be considered indefensible. I had not been a boorish fan. I had conducted myself with class and congratulated the Cardinals fans seated in my section. I just wanted to walk back to the car and be left alone with my pain. I had done the right thing. And then this guy had to set me off. I'm not sure if this makes me unique or if we all have this inside us. If we retain some vestige of the past that probably served an excellent purpose when we were beset by saber-toothed tigers and velociraptors and that dickhead Grog in the cave next door, but is more of a liability in today's world.

In the end, I guess I learned two things. We really are just big dumb animals. And when you're in the other team's stadium, keep your head on a swivel.

13 metawords:

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

It's funny, British football has a bad reputation for violence in America, but I've been to loads of 'soccer' (eurgh) games back in the UK and never seen any hooliganism at all. I've heard lots of stories of people overturning cars outside a stadium after losing a game in America, or fights breaking out in the stands, but we Brits still have the rep. Crazy.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Hmmm...interesting. Could Kurt Warner be the Red Rider of the Apocolypse?

Dr Zibbs said...

What an A-hole!!!!! And too bad that they lost. I realy thought we had it in the bag in the 2nd half.

Gwen said...

I am doubly sorry, dear friend. First, that your team lost. Apparently that wasn't supposed to happen which makes it hurt even more.

And second, that you were drug into such an odd and intense exchange. The biology for a flight or fight response is still active in each of us. At least now you know which you are, and I suspect from your description of your reaction, anyone who does choose to mess with you is a fool.

Anonymous said...

"a Cardinals appearance in the Super Bowl is mentioned in the Book of Revelation right after the part about the sun turning black as sackcloth and the moon turning red as blood."


Next to the Chicago Cubs, they've had the longest streak in pro sports to not win a Championship. I understand your disappointment. Even though I don't care much about either team. THEY WERE NOT SUPPOSED TO WIN!

Annnyway, I think you had an explosion of testosterone, which means you need to get in touch with your feminine side a bit. Tonight you should pick up some scented candles, have a bubble bath and put on Fried Green Tomatoes. And let the tears flow, baby.

The Diva on a Diet said...

You're right, Cards in the SB is def. one of the seven signs. Ugh. I'm sorry you had to witness it in person and even sorrier about those idiot fans. Don't be too hard on yourself, opposing fans bring out the worst in me ... fairly typical I think. :/

Glad to hear a full blown fight didn't break out.

Rebecca said...

You should write a movie and call it, "Your Mother Is a Whore."

Also, sackcloth is not black unless you're assuming lots of rolling around in ashes, but that's crazy.

BeckEye said...

Sorry 'bout your team, man. I'm no fan of Donovan McNabb, but I don't like Saint Kurt either.

See, this proves that all fan bases have their douchebags. It seems that when your team is doing well (like the Steelers), suddenly your town becomes known for having asshole fans, as if some drunken loudmouths are better than others. Oooh, just thinking about it makes me want so SMASH SOMEONE'S FACE!!!

red said...

'zonies are all d-bags. Everyone knows that.

Cora said...

I've been there too. One time. Calm to borderline-homicidal in about 0.2 seconds. Long story, but in a nutshell a guy crossed a line and I lost it and just ran at him like a psycho. No plan. No weapon. No sense!! He weighed twice what I do, so I have no idea what I thought I was going to do to him. Luckily (for me!) he was scared when I ran at him, and he ran inside his house and locked his door! Afterwards, I was shocked I could get that angry that fast and do something that out of character. I know how you feel.

Oh! And that nerd test I was talking about on my blog - I studied nerdy stuff and retook it last night. I am very proud to say my new official title is "Uber Cool Nerd Queen." Ohhhh, yeah! My awkward score is down to 15% from 95% (woo-hoo!!). And my tech score is up to 47% from 12% (woo-hoo again!!). So I feel much better about the whole thing now. :-)

Fancy Schmancy said...

You're brilliant, write extremely well, like to bake, and now have a viscous side too? Too sexy!

Candy's daily Dandy said...

Great post! You are so right.
Being a Red Sox fan my entire life, I say to you-welcome to what it's like to be part of the greatest rivalry in all sports-Yankees-Red Sox. Only our arch nemesiee(is that a word?)are from New York which makes them much higher on the dochebag richter scale.

Also-I was at the Philly/Pats Superbowl in 05 and the Philly fans scared the life out of me-sorry.

one more thing-I want to ask you a question about someone I am meeting on Monday who is supposedly in the "biz". Would it be ok if I e-mail you?

Edahn said...

Great post and great writing. :)