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Have you ever been punched in the face so fucking hard that you can’t hear for two days? Well I have, and it taught me a lot about myself.
I was trying to order a drink when it started. I stood at the bar, desperately trying to draw the attention of the staff behind the counter, when I felt a frantic tug on my shirt from behind me. I turned to acknowledge, assuming it was someone attempting to relay a last minute drink order. Instead, the wild eyes of my fraternity brother Tom’s girlfriend greeted me. She screamed over the music, “Tom is in a fight and he told me to come get you.” I responded with a stream of profanity as she latched onto my arm and led me toward the battle.
Now Tom was a notoriously arrogant piece of shit — the kind of hothead who finds an issue with the smallest aspects of how people live their lives. I knew that out of everyone in the fraternity, that motherfucker would be the one who would get me into a fight. Don’t get me wrong, I liked that asshole, but he had been asking to get his ass beat for a long time. I had no doubt that whatever had started the fight was Tom’s fault, but in the end he was my fraternity brother, and our bylaws clearly stated I needed to throw hands on his behalf.
Tom’s girlfriend led me through the hundreds of people on the dance floor to a clearing in the corner of the bar. There, lying on the ground was Tom, getting his facial structure pounded in by a person sitting on his stomach. I ran over and pulled the assailant off of Tom’s body and pinned him to the floor, muttering something along the lines of “i t’s over” while using my weight to make sure he didn’t skitter away from me. At that point, I thought I had the situation under control, until I heard a loud exclamation from behind my right ear. I turned my face to look at whoever was next to me, expecting a pretty angry bouncer ready to toss me from the bar, but instead, my entire world exploded.
I got hit, and I got hit fucking hard. It was an uncontested shot directly onto my right cheekbone, the force of which knocked me clean off the top of the original combatant and onto the floor. It took a couple seconds but I collected myself and rose to face my new challenger. Blood poured from my nose as I squared up with my opponent; a fat kid with what appeared to be a man-bun/rat-tail hybrid and a Salt Life t-shirt. I rushed at him, intent on taking him to the ground. It was at the moment of contact that it occurred to me that we had no idea why we were fighting one another. I had no idea why Tom and this fat kid’s friend were in conflict and I seriously doubt he did either. Yet here we were, two individuals who did not know anything about each other, facing off over someone else’s reasons.
We separated. I stared at my opponent across the open space between us for what seemed like an eternity. I was acutely aware of the blood streaming down my face. I didn’t know if my nose was broken, but a mix of adrenaline and alcohol told me it didn’t matter. What was important was in front of me. We came to the conclusion that only one of us would win simultaneously, and he nodded at me in recognition, two men who were coming to blows over something that didn’t concern them.
Unfortunately we wouldn’t get the chance to finish our conflict. A bouncer bounded through the circle of onlookers and grabbed the fat kid by the arm and quickly started wrestling him away. The bouncer who came for me was much more hesitant about initiating physical contact considering I looked like a 30 Days of Night character who had been eating pussy during period week, but he made it very clear it was time for me to leave. I scooped a very disoriented Tom up from the floor and followed the bouncer out of the bar and right into the police’s waiting arms.
While the fight felt like it lasted a year, it only spanned the duration of a couple minutes, but the lessons I took from it will last me my lifetime. I learned that I could take a punch, and not to fear physical conflict in the future. I was taught that pain is easily compartmentalized in the heat of the moment and that ears actually do ring when hit in the side of the face hard enough. Most of all, I came to understand that fucking Tom sucked as a human being.
A couple ice packs and dropped assault charges later, I was released from the precinct and sent home. My nose wasn’t broken, but black shades of damaged blood vessels would surround my features for a couple of weeks. Looking back on it now I realize I’m happy it happened; everyone should be in a fight at least once, if for nothing else but to know what it is like to take a punch. Oh and the reason for the conflict? Tom accused the kid who I found destroying him of grabbing his ass on the dance floor. That’s it. So I guess the overall moral of the story is: don’t be a fucking Tom..