By Francisco Alvarado
By Trevor Bach
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
Good to know there was a lesson in there somewhere.
Actually, the 27-year-old disaster relief/hazmat cleanup worker wasn't the kid I'd taken him for. And he had met his match in Jeannette, a 25-year-old shoe store manager.
"It's great that his shoulder is fucked up like this because whenever I'm mad at him, I just push in here," she said, jabbing Stephen's deltoid with fingertips beneath long, blue-polished nails until he caved. "See?" she said with triumphant glee.
"On the plus side," he said, still cringing, "I can always tell you when it's gonna rain."
The noise inside escalated, rallying those outside back to their battle positions for match three, or what I will refer to as "Board Shorts Versus Man Panties," thanks to the opponents' apparel, and also "Night Rider Versus Jäger Bombs," thanks to my evening's drink of choice. It was also an opportunity to get to know people, since I wasn't actually watching the game.
"I guess I'm getting my Jack-and-Coke goggles," the cute guy at the bar said. "The bathroom was all backed up, so I didn't want to drink beer."
The men's room, that is. The women's room was empty: just one of the few benefits of this testosterone fest. The other benefit is that there were lots of single dudes, including Will, a strikingly good-looking guy in a blue bandanna. An Army veteran, he'd been stationed in Italy, where he met his now ex-wife before being sent to Iraq. Now, he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
But it was his encounter with a recent ex-girlfriend that seemed to be his biggest concern. Sometime after the main event began, I got lost in his confusing story about her infidelity with someone against whom she claimed to have a restraining order.
"Needless to say, she's a psycho and a pathological liar," Will's friend Rocky concluded.
But Will's luck may be coming back: He'd just won a tank top in the free raffle. Rocky, however, was making his own luck.
"I made the top 50 on American Idol in '05," Rocky boasted. "I went to L.A. They started with 110,000 people, and only 50 made it."
Now he was parlaying that success into a karaoke business, which includes Tuesday nights at Beer Goggles. He was there this night because the main event contender, Matt Serra, was his niece's sensei.
"I don't even watch this stuff, but I promised her I would," Rocky explained.
Brant suddenly barged in. "Fuck! Fuck!" he exclaimed.
"What? What?" I replied.
"The underdog just won. TKO!"
Good news for Serra (and Rocky's niece) was also good news for me. With the pay-per-view show at its conclusion, we could turn our attention to a newly developing drama: Will had written a note to one of the waitresses.
"She's the niece of the guy with the 23-inch biceps," Will said with feigned concern, nodding in the direction of the owner, Gary Olsen, who'd opened the place in December and was evidently running a family business.
We didn't get to see what drama (if any) ensued after the note was delivered to the pretty brunet with the muscled uncle because we were ready to go.
So from my foray into martial arts as a spectator sport, I'd learned that an "arm bar" was something besides a bar within arm's reach (it's a position to dislocate your opponent's arm) and that a "Thai kick" was more than the effects of Asian cuisine. I was still foggy on what exactly a "rear naked choke" was; maybe Brant would show me later.
One thing was clear, however. "I'm sober," I said pouting, disappointed that my four hours of drinking reflected on my tab but not my body.
"Me too," Chris observed. He groped for an explanation. "They must have pumped pure oxygen in here."
Jäger bombs had almost always kicked my ass. But this time, like Matt Serra, I'd defeated the powerful favorite.
I almost felt like having one more shot to celebrate the victory.