I recently went to see Roger Waters perform The Wall. Say what you will about older bands whose music might be described as outdated, this album is the pinnacle of human achievement in music. And although the crowd would be considered “old” (i.e., over 45), the fans were hard-core in their approach to enjoying the music. In fact, there was so much cannabis floating through the stands I’m pretty sure I caught a contact high, giggling an inordinate amount as the wall was torn down to end the performance.
After the show I stopped by my local watering hole for a nightcap. The bartender there is very friendly, knowledgable about scotch and whiskey, and likes to wax poetic about the mental health benefits of mindfulness and meditation. Because it is part of a hotel, the service ends significantly earlier than most places in NYC, so when I walked in at 11:45, it was already last call.
At the bar itself were two women in their 20’s and one male in his 30’s. When I sat down at the far end of the room, one of the women approached me while the other talked to the man.
“Oh my God oh my God oh my God! This place is so fab. I live down the street but I’ve just discovered this place.”
“This is a great spot,” I agreed. “You should come for Happy Hour during the week. It starts at five.”
“I did! Today! I’ve been drinking for 7 hours,” she yelled, each word increasing in volume.
At that point I noticed that the man and the other woman were looking for a pen, seemingly to exchange contact information. The bartender had stepped away and there was no else there, so I politely interrupted the now screaming woman to offer assistance.
“I have a pen if you need it,” I said to them.
The man, who stood about 6′1” and probably a bit over 200 pounds, looked appreciative enough, although with multiple empty Corona bottles in front of him, any facial expression would have been dubious.
“Great,” the young woman said, and kind of staggered over to me to get the pen.
“I need that back, though” I said in a joking way, although I wasn’t actually kidding. I really did want to ensure that neither of them snuck off with it. The pen wasn’t expensive, not at all, and it’s made of plastic. But certain instruments just feel right, resting between the soft portions of the fingers. They free the inner writer, allowing for smooth strokes with no smudging. These are few and far between, not to be parted with without good cause.
As the man watched the woman writing down her contact information, he slid his arm around her waist, moved his hand down her butt and onto the back of her thigh. She seemed to lean into him at that point, but in reality she kind of just fell forward as the booze was doing its thing on her. He then started to brush her hair back from her face, and at that moment she tried to pull away. However, he quickly moved his hand to the back of her neck and held her in place. At that moment, I spoke up.
“Can I get that pen back, please?”
Now, one might argue that wasn’t a statement designed to protect anyone or defend a woman’s honor, but the fact remains that the man, who easily could have been a finalist for the cast of The Jersey Shore, was much larger than me. Had I been his size I would have approached it differently, but Rob Dobrenski does not advocate physical violence. He is also only 165 pounds.
Fortunately, my question was enough, as the man looked up and the woman scampered back toward her friend and me. Now clearly annoyed, he said, “So that’s your pen?”
“You happy you got it back, tough guy?”
“Actually, very. Thank you.”
The women slunk out the door at that point and the man and I were the only ones left in the bar. He shook his head at me and sat down on his stool, tossing back some more Corona.
When the bartender returned, the man said to him, “This guy over here, your boy, he’s making a stink over a stupid pen.”
“Truth be told,” I said, “you should be thanking me. Without my pen you wouldn’t have gotten that number.”
The man stood up and said, “you want a thank you?”
Realizing that this probably wasn’t going anywhere positive, I took the high (i.e., cowardly) road. “No, just forget it,” I said, and took out my pretentious iPhone to check my email.
Ten minutes later I was done with my drink and ready to take off. However, as I started to get up, a woman in her 30’s walked in, said hello to the bartender and gave the man a huge, open-mouth kiss on the lips. “Hi baby,” she said. “Sorry I kept you waiting. I’ve missed you.”
The man kissed her back and it was immediately clear these two were in a relationship. “Honey,” he said, “this douche over here almost got his ass kicked tonight. You could have seen quite the show if I was in the mood,” and he looked over at me with triumph.
I’m not usually at a loss for words, but fortunately tonight I didn’t need any more. I simply stared back, smiled and held up the pen that was just used to get another woman’s phone number. At that point the man’s eyes got unusually wide as he recognized what I could say right then and there. He quickly pulled out some bills, tossed them on the bar and, less than 20 seconds later, he and his girlfriend were out the door.
So what did we learn today?:
- Men get grabby when drunk
- Good pens are hard to come by
- Drinking for 7 hours leads to a stentorian voice, especially in woman who discover a new bar
- Larger men clearly don’t like it when you interrupt their hook-ups, attached to another woman or not
And, most importantly, that the pen truly is mightier than the sword. Or at least the fists.