Sunday, October 15, 2006

21 September: Bar Room Brawl

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of an argument when it suddenly dawned on you that you were neither going to win, nor were you making yourself look good? Have you ever witnessed someone else in such a position and thought to yourself how stupid they were making themselves look? Since having this experience, have you learned anything?

Last night I was in a small pub in my city with two friends from out of town, and two of their friends. It was a reunion, to be sure. I haven't seen these girls in 3 years and there was heaps to catch up on. So, over our pints and the din of a 'D-list' performer we happily reminisced, laughed, enjoyed. At the close of a really terrible song in which the performer attempted to rhyme the word potato with special, we applauded quietly but politely. Poor guy we thought, he must struggle to find work. And then he began to speak. We were sitting off to his left but he looked straight ahead and commented: "i like this space. Its very linear. And its perfect, y'know, because the quiet people have all congregated down, as far off from the stage as possible, at the door almost, and the loud people, well the loud people who want to have a conversation are all sitting by the stage."
Usually such a diatribe might be accompanied by a turned head, some eye-contact, and the a smile. Afterall, you're a performer at a local pub in which most of the people look as though they haven't washed in several days. To be fair, you, yourself look as though you haven't seen a good scrub in at least a week. Did you think people came to listen to you? All the while having these thoughts in my head, the man is still going on about how loud me and my friends are. What a prick! I thought about making some nasty comment in return, mostly regarding the quality of his performance and his talen (or significant lack thereof) but restrained myself, thinking that it would, inevitably be me, who ended up looking foolish for fighting with this man.

Oh but twenty minutes down the line i found myself enraged once more and unable to keep my mouth shut, unable to capitulate to the self-preservationist within. I was arguing with a government employee about immigration policy in Australia. Not much convinced he knew anything at all, and pretty positive that what he knew was rhetoric and brainwashing, I proceeded to attack him when i meant to be attacking the thought process behind the government's program. Offended no doubt by the hypocrisy of this American, he proceeded to become defensive and use the statistics he was privy to that were not confidential. Though I believe he was incorrect it dawned on me when i had my face twisted into an aggressive scowl, that it wasn't him who looked bad, despite how very ignorant he might be, but rather, I, who was making a fool of themselves. One day I might need this man's good graces, or the good graces of a friend of his in government. One day I might regret that I let my academic banter turn to passion in the bar.

So i guess we never learn. Not in the space of minutes, not in the space of years. I guess no one ever does, or at least I hope that I'm not the only one who has ever saved themselves the embarrasment of confrontation in one instance to go even bigger in embarrassment-factor the next time around.


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