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Charles Dumbwin
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Surviving a bar fight - Dumbwin’s guide

13 July 2012, 10:13

It’s the weekend and the big game’s on tonight.  Your mates have all got plans (and you’re not invited, again), so you head on down to your local watering hole to catch the game on the big screen.  It’s Bulls vs. Sharks and it’s going to be huge!

As you enter, you sense the tension, and then something else.  The air seems charged.  Was it like this before, or did things just turn hostile when you walked in?  If the latter, then what the hell are you wearing?  Polar-neck jersey?  You’re gonna get hurt.

How’s the hair?  Did you get a perm recently?  You’re leaving in an ambulance.

You carefully elbow your way to the bar counter and order a drink.  No, no cocktails, not unless you want your nose broken.  A tall draught is good and maybe a Stroh Rum chaser if you really want to send out that ‘tough-guy’ vibe. 

Still feeling uneasy, you look around to better understand your surroundings.  Over there in the corner, the big guy?  That’s Doug, he’s a regular, runs a tab each month.  A gentle giant?  Sure.  Keeps to himself?  You betcha.  But don’t piss him off, he will kill you.  Yes, really.  The last guy Doug punched is still looking for a place to land.  Quick, look away!

Survey the joint and scan all around you.  Now to your left, the guy who’s been eyeing you since you walked in?  That’s Clayton, he’s gay, on the prowl, and in the morning he’s waking up with one of two things:  a bitchin’ headache or your phone number.  Don’t hold is gaze, this isn’t Rosebank.

The pub’s packed tonight but you have your spot at the bar, so it’s all good.  The restaurant section where the big screen is is also crammed full of mad supporters.  The whistle blows, the game kicks off, and you figure that Moses himself must have popped in earlier to part the patrons right down the middle – Bulls supporters on one side, Sharks on the other.

Some light banter is hurled back and forth between supporters but then things turn ugly.  Shark Girl is drinking too much and her insults become personal.  Bulls Babe, four tables away, takes offence and says something about her mother.  Her boyfriend, Big Bull, just stares on, sipping down his twenty-eighth straight brandy and coke - he’s been here since breakfast.

By some miracle, flaring tempers are kept in check until just moments from full time.  The game’s going down to the wire - Bulls and Sharks are tied up, twenty all.  The Bulls’ forwards cock up in the Sharks’ 22 with just seconds remaining, and give away a penalty.  That freak-of-nature Frans Steyn steps up to take the kick.  Yes, it’s about 85 metres.  The ball sails through the uprights and the whistle sounds for the end of the game.

Shark Girl screams, jumps up, farts and giggles, and then throws the Tabasco sauce at Bulls Babe, only it hits Big Bull in the eye, and now he’s really pissed, in every sense of the word.  And then the fight starts!

At first, it’s only crispy gliding samoosas and spicy flapping chicken wings, but soon beer bottles take flight and all hell breaks loose. 

Alright then, first things first – act tough - you’re in it now so there’s no use hiding.  Punches are flying all around you so you might as well hit someone.  This guy right here will do.  It’s okay, he’s an atheist, even after you hit him, he still won’t believe that you did.  Slap him, hard!  Whoa!  That was a good one.  Ah, what the hell, slap him again! 

Okay good, now remember, stay away from Doug there in the corner, he’s swinging wildly, connecting everyone within arm’s reach.

Now grab someone’s drink and down it.  No, not Clayton’s - even though he’s not here and probably hiding away in the toilet - you drink that pink cocktail and every man, woman and child in this place will turn on you. 

Neat scotch!  Nice work.  Now, exit time.

Forget the entrance, that’s congested between fleeing Stormers supporters and curious car guards who are trying to peek in at the bumbling bar brawl.  Turn left and shove your way through the crowd, head for the restaurant section.  Yes, I know, that’s all out war in there, but there’s a side door in the corner and the manager’s outside there now, fumbling for his keys, trying to get it open.  You’re going to have to run the gauntlet, so man-up.

Don’t pick a side in here, three generations of Bulls and Sharks supporters are going at it.  Just avoid the punches and dive roll when you have to – DON’T do cartwheels or the gladiators in here will beat you like a red-headed step child.

Now, side step the stampeding Bull who’s about to tackle you into next week, and let him crash through those tables behind you.  Nicely done!  Did you see how his head merged with the brick wall on the other side?  That’s gonna leave a mark.

Now quickly, jump the railing and follow the jittery group who are about to pour outside through that side door; just don’t get caught under the avalanche of bodies if the front row collapses. 

Door’s open.  Quickly, huddle through. 

You’re out!  You made it!  You’re alive!  (Thank me later).

Saunter off to the car park – don’t run - and watch from a safe distance.  Bum a smoke to take the edge off if you have to, it’s been one hell of a night.  The cops are on their way to sort this mess out, so chill, it’s all over.

Well done!  You’ve survived your first bar fight.

Next week, I’ll teach you how to survive a nuclear explosion.  Admittedly though, that one’s a bit trickier.

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