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1,000 Ways To Say Yes By Eugene S. Robinson
Eugene S. Robinson , February 21st, 2013 09:53

Why punching people is like fucking sheep, and other pearls of wisdom from the pen of Eugene S. Robinson

There's a joke. It happens to be about a man who loves sheep. Like, really loves sheep. And he gets caught, once, loving these sheep. And the joke, while it shaggy dogs it all over the place ends up with the bromide: if you get caught loving sheep, even just once? Well, people will never forget it.

So it goes that once you get known as a puncher-outer, you'll always be known as puncher-outer. Even, and this is important, if you are punching-out with great infrequency.

The scene: a quiet club and in attendance about 120 people. The occasion? A performance of SAL MINEO. Plangent pieces of modern music interspersed with harsh blasts and chilling silences. Thirty-three songs varying in length from 13 seconds to three or four minutes with a lyrical landscape that is loose narrative based on the untimely but perfectly gruesome and Los Angelesesque death of the ambisexual Salvatore Mineo.

During one song section about halfway through the set one guy, let's call him "That Guy", attempts to establish an all-too-human connection to the singer of this two-piece band. Me, in this instance. Jamie Stewart is bent over his keyboard, effects, synths, laptop and playing his heart out. It's a jarringly discordant addition, this peanut gallery commentary on something that was just said. Unwelcome but not unexpected. Certainly not from "That Guy." You see, That Guy is in every town everywhere and his hijinks run the gamut from ice throwing, lit cigarette tossing, scrotum grabbing to the much more subtle yet wildly effective standing at stage front asking for "Freebird".

So being a man of the moment, rather than make believe he doesn't exist like everyone else in attendance including the promoters who know him from other shows/occasions to be That Guy par excellence, I say, "While your input is appreciated, I am thinking now would be a good time to keep your mouth shut."

"You think so, eh?" He is good. Very good. The eternal question/questioning can keep the uninitiated hemmed in for HOURS.

"I do. In fact I think it's a good idea if you're interested in not getting hurt. And I'm not talking about feelings."

"Oh you do, do you?"

"Yes. And one more comment out of you and you may have the occasion to find out."

"Well COME ON then!" In Poker we'd have called this... well, who knows what it would be called but it was a bold gambit. Shooting his whole wad on the outside chance that I'd fold it, and not hold it. But I held it straight through and off the stage. And right up to his face where I asked for what certainly seemed to be the final time

"Are you sure what you want me to do is strike you?"


And even before the letter D had resolved itself he was scratching around on the floor, swimming after his keys, hat, wallet and whatever he had been clutching in his right hand hidden in his pocket. Courtesy of an open-hand slap.

And slurring through half consciousness "No. No violence. I won't fight you."

What was most surprising was his surprise. I stood there for a minute, or less than, and waited to be attacked by his friends until I remember that fundamentally That Guy has no friends. Back to the stage I quoted Nina Simone, "You think this shit is easy? YOU try it." Of course after that utterance she left the stage mid-show but we'd do no such thing as shows, as is their wont, tend to want to go on.

That's when we notice "The Other Guy." In this instance the guy who follows me around from show to show recording the ENTIRE show for reasons largely occult to me but probably having something to do with picking up girls on YouTube.

So, weariness setting in, That Guys always engender a bone-weariness, I try to smear saliva all over his camera lens before saying "you've recorded enough for the night. So, stop now."

"Say 'Please.'"

"Like you said 'please' when you asked me to film tonight?"

"It's a free country!" It should not be a shock to anyone reading that The Other Guy was friends with That Guy.

"It certainly is," and as fast as I could manage it I kicked his phone to the floor and into small and broken pieces.

Now a trembling and enfeebled outrage kicks in and he begins disrobing in the universal signaling of his intent to either take a bath or fight me. Which amuses me so much I start to smile. (Words of caution: when guys who don't like you are happy to see you? Trouble is afoot.)

Finally, the club security shows up and asks him a question with deep philosophical import: "What are you DOING?"

"He wants to fight me so I will fight him!"

They hustle him out of the club, take his phone away, and return him cooled down to the front where I watch him for the remainder of the show. The Other Guy? Well, you don't know WHAT he'll do. Ask Dimebag Darrell. Oh wait. You can't. Because he's dead. SHOT by The Other Guy. Or maybe That Guy.

So the show ends without further event and immediately post-show I am set upon by the members of the audience who have not fled.

"Was That Guy a plant? I mean did you two set that up?"

"No and no."

"So you really headbutted him to the floor?"

"It was an open hand slap. I'm too handsome for headbutts."

"Well we think that was a little uncalled for…"

And so ensued an hour-long conversation about the rightness or relative wrongness of what I had done. They were of the opinion that I should have:

A] talked/joked with him a bit until he quieted down


B] …well in actually fact I have no idea what B was as I was in shock that they thought that anybody should try to reason with That Guy whose sole intention is to fuck your couch.

Back and forth it went eventually settling on the collectively held opinion that I was a creepy douchebag.

"My advice to you ladies is this: next time That Guy shows up at a party at your house and starts off soft with dancing on your kitchen table and then warms up with pulling books from your bookshelf before his piece de resistance, urinating in your house plants, that you remember what you've said here tonight and promise me you'll joke with him about his still naked penis and the urine running into your carpet."

They stared at me and walked off shaking their heads.


Next up: Contract Killing: The Early Years

EUGENE S. ROBINSON is the author of Fight: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Ass Kicking But Were Afraid You’d Get Your Ass Kicked For Asking (which is technically BANNED in the UK by its publisher Harper Collins), as well as A Long Slow Screw, and numerous articles about everything from collections thugs to Dean Martin. He also sings for OXBOW.