A strange encounter that pretty much sums up the sorry state of American “patriotism” since the advent of the Global War on Terror. It begs the following question: Would you like some freedom fries with your wings, Fatso?
10/8/2003 – Philadelphia
When there’s a baseball or hockey game on television and I want to watch it, I usually get off at the subway stop near my apartment in Philly’s Old City neighborhood while on my way home from work. From there I usually go to Nick’s Roast Beef on 2nd Street just off Market, where I watch the game as I quaff a few brews and scarf a plate or two of wings. Nick’s wings are awesome. It has been my ritual since I moved to Old City in 1999.
The bartenders, waitresses, and kitchen staff at Nick’s all know me as a quiet, polite, and well-dressed gentleman and generous tipper, probably as innocuous a customer as they have on a regular basis. I come in, drink some beer and eat, watch the game, and then leave. Sometimes I’ll strike up a conversation with the people sitting at the bar with me, or I’ll chat briefly with the staff, but mostly I read Harper’s or the New Yorker while I watch the game. Nick’s doesn’t have the best food or the coolest and hippest clientele in my neighborhood, but it does have a couple of nice television sets at the bar, a very cool staff, and patrons who are friendly but mostly mind their own business.
So last night I’m at Nick’s watching Game One of the NLCS between the Cubbies and Marlins, sipping a diet soda (I’m on the wagon for a while) and munching on a plate of wings, having my typically blissful sports fan experience after a crappy day at work, when my nirvana gets rudely interrupted by a corpulent jerk who plops down on the bar stool next to mine. He’s a middle-aged man, grossly overweight and foul smelling, dressed in generic businessman’s attire, looking like a cross between the pro golfer Craig Stadler and Rush Limbaugh, and right away he begins alienating the bartender by being loud and rude as he orders a beer.
Right after ordering Fatso begins striking up a conversation with those of us around him, and it’s obvious after about five seconds that, not only does he love the sound of his voice, but it’s also a rather loud voice. And as he speaks he spits all over the place. I am not exaggerating—the man actually spews spittle like a fire hose as he speaks.
UGH, fuck, I mumble under my breath, I always get the wackos sitting next to me. I look down at my plate of wings and pretend I’m a deaf mute, hoping Chubbo ignores me. But nooooo—he elbows me and asks who I like in the game.
“The Cubs. But I spent all summer in Miami and enjoyed going to Marlin games and watching them get better every game. But it hurt to watch them abuse my Philles down the stretch, so I hate them.”
After I say this, Lardass goes into a five-minute bullshit-laden soliloquy about both teams that has no factual basis and interests me for about one millisecond before I go back to eating my wings and ignoring him. It’s a rude ploy, yes, but I hope he sees I have no interest in talking to him and he’ll leave me alone. Then Chunky Boy starts spewing out political theories and other loud and obnoxious opinions best kept to himself, and all the while I’m wishing he’d just shut the fuck up and leave me alone. His politics are somewhere to the right of Rush Limbaugh and expressed with even more obnoxious bravado than that pile-o’flab creepo Limbaugh can muster.
All the while I keep looking at the bartender and rolling my eyes, as if to plead with him to ask this fat fuck to shut his mouth. The bartender, a large, strapping Irishman whose day job is as a union electrician, is a fellow I’ve known for a couple of years and we have an excellent rapport; he just shrugs, as if to say, “Hey, it’s a free country,” and of course he’s right so far. The fat fuck isn’t even drunk, just loud, ignorant, and obnoxious.
Meanwhile Fatty’s food arrives, and as he devours his wings he continues his political discussion, and while he talks food begins to collect on his moustache and triple chin. Most of what he’s saying I am ignoring. I think he might be talking to me, but I’m making no apparent eye contact with him or even looking at him, silently hoping he’ll choke on a chicken wing and die so I can watch the game in peace.
Right about the time Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez smacks his three-run homer, Piggie begins screaming about the French. Don’t ask me why. Apparently he has issues with France and the French people. “I hate those French cocksuckers! Cowards! Commies! Back-stabbing scum. And that cocksucker Chirac is a fucking scumbag. Ohhh…don’t get me started!”
But of course he has already started. Loudly.
I turn to him. “Sir, do you mind? I am trying to watch the game and you’re bothering me. Plus my mother and her family are French, so do you mind? I happen to think Chirac was right about Iraq, so just leave your vile opinions to yourself.”
At this Blubber Titts jumps up and starts screaming. “I’m not sitting next to some goddamn cocksucking French-loving traitor fucker! You goddamn fucking cocksucker traitor! I am not sitting next to you!”
I shrug. “Good, then move, Fatty.”
Porky assumes a defensive stance as if to challenge me to a fight. “What are you gonna do, you French-loving coward! You traitor! Come on, French lover!”
The bartender walks over to us. “Dude, can you tell this fat fuck to leave?” I plead to him. “If you don’t, I think I might have to knock the shit out of him.”
The bartender politely asks Tubby to either stop acting like a jerk or he has to leave. Jelly Belly ignores him and keeps screaming pejoratives at me. I’m not mad, really, nor am I offended. The man is harmless, just a fat, psychotic windbag who I could drop by looking at him. He poses absolutely no threat to me. Mainly I just want to watch the game and eat my food and be left alone. However, I am sure even Gandhi would lose his patience and bitch-slap this fat turd if provoked like this.
The bartender escorts him out the front door. All the while Whale Butt is screaming that he can’t believe this bar would throw him out while allowing a French loving traitor stay. “Our boys are dying in Iraq because of traitorous cocksuckers like him!” he screams, pointing at me.
Now the bartender is getting mad. “If you don’t shut up I am going to really throw you out of here.”
As the bartender says this, Chubbs sneaks past him and comes back to the bar next to me and grabs the tip he left on the bar. “I’m not tipping you, you fucking asshole. You’re a goddamn French-loving cocksucker too!” At this the bartender grabs him, drags him to the front door, and literally tosses him onto the sidewalk on 2nd Street. Bloated Boy gets up and screams at us, but we can’t hear him because the bartender closes the front door. Meanwhile three of the cooks and another bartender show up, just in case our nemesis wants to come back inside. After a few minutes he walks away, shouting the whole time.
After this, I calmly go back to my wings and the ballgame. It was a great game too, a classic, one of the strangest yet most wonderful games I’ve ever seen. Other than my close encounter with Mr. Foul Fat Francophobe it was a good night, even though the Cubs blew the game and those stinking Floridian Fish won.