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The Last Time We Got Into a Fist Fight

This much is certain: We here at MEL can take a good punch. In fact, it seems like it’s the only thing we can do in a fight. Based on the stories below, our fight record is something like 0–5–1. We fought classmates, and the classmates won. We fought friends, and the friends won. We fought the wall, and the wall won. So these aren’t so much fighting words as they are a lot of words about flailing, swollen eyes and bruised egos.

Sam Dworkin, Art Assistant: The last time I got into a fight was the summer before my senior year of college. Because my grades were subpar I was stuck in Eugene Oregon, where I took easy summer school art classes in hopes of trying to resurrect my failing GPA. My friend had flown in to celebrate her birthday, and we spent the entire day bar hopping. I’d always had a huge crush on her, but was perpetually stuck in the friend zone.

As the night came to a close, we ended up at Max’s Tavern, which Mo’s Tavern in the Simpsons is based on. From what I can recall, my friend was talking to a guy at the bar; in a jealous rage, I decided to intervene. I slurred “Get off my woman!” at him before shoving him in a very crowded bar. He pushed me back and punched me square in the forehead. I threw a few punches in return, but it was mostly flailing and nothing landed. The bar’s bouncers quickly escorted me from the premises. The worst part, though, was that I totally embarrassed my friend and ruined her birthday, which banished me to the friend zone forever.

John McDermott, Staff Writer: During the first semester of my senior year in college, I was at a bar with a large group of friends when I realized this one guy kept ordering drinks on our tab. I told him to fuck the fuck off and stop doing that. The next few moments are kinda blurry. I got decked just above my eye and was bleeding profusely. This guy was much smaller than me, so when I realized what happened, I grabbed him by the neck and body slammed him onto the ground with the intent of choking him to death. Except my friends foiled my plan. They hadn’t seen me get hit, so far as they knew I had just gone berserk on some poor, innocent kid and was trying to strangle the life out of him.

That’s more or less when they pulled me off him. Only when I stood up and they saw the blood running down my face, did they realize what had happened. The offending party took this opportunity to get the hell out of there, and my friends apologized for not knowing that my attack was just in self-defense. I remember seeing the kid out at a bar many months later. I contemplated beating the living piss out of him (I have that same urge right now, actually), but I was quickly dissuaded by the memory of waking up the next morning after our previous altercation — blood on my pillow and feeling like a sack of shit physically and metaphorically.

Erin Taj, Art Director: When I was in the third grade, I had a best friend/unrequited crush named Mossy. We did the weirdest shit together: We picked berries and made “wine” out of them (for the record they were mullberries floating in water); we finished each other’s drawings; and we played a game where we tried to figure out what the other was thinking about a particular person or place.

One day at recess, after realizing we’d exhausted all of our other options, we decided to plan a fist fight in the front of the cafeteria as an attempt to maybe win a seat at the “popular kids” table. The rules were simple: We wouldn’t actually hit each other, and we’d be sure to tell everyone that it wasn’t real after the fact.

After we spent the morning spreading the word that a fight would be going down, we found ourselves in the cafeteria unprepared and surrounded by our screaming, overexcited classmates. While Mossy stood against the wall, fists up, I stood in front of her, terrified because I really didn’t want to hit her, even though it seemed like that was now gonna have to happen. She took the first swing (and missed intentionally). When I swung, she ducked and I hit the wall behind her, splitting open three of my knuckles. We both froze and started laughing uncontrollably, the fight was over.

Tracy Moore, Staff Writer: It wasn’t a good sign when one morning on the school bus, a 17-year-old named Tammy said she was going to kick my ass. It was no better when before first period, Tammy turned to her friends on the gym bleachers, purposely within my earshot, and said, “Give me all your rangs, y’all.” She meant rings — as in, the jewelry — but this was the Deep South and vowels weren’t obeyed. As she collected the Gold Panda coin rings that were so popular at the time, slipping them onto the fingers of both her hands, it was obvious she meant business.

She’d hassled my friend Melissa and I for a few months already, calling us lesbians and weirdos. We played right back, calling her a stupid redneck with a mushroom haircut. She originally threatened to kick both our asses simultaneously, which we readily agreed to, but somewhere along the way she must’ve decided I was the easier target.

Cut to the bell between second and third period. As I put my books in my locker, I felt someone grab my arm, turn me around and punch me in the face. It was a dull blow, in spite of all those Gold Panda rings, but it still knocked me back. Just as I focused on her dumb face grinning maniacally, someone yelled, HAY, TAYCHER’S COMIN’ (translation: Hey, teacher’s coming!) and Tammy split.

I went into class and told Mrs. Garrett what happened. Bewilderingly, she said I could stand up and tell the class the whole story if I wanted. Equally bewilderingly, I did, relaying with great detail the story of our back-and-forth, Tammy’s refusal to kick two asses simultaneously and her cowardly decision to only sucker punch me. I was assured that since I hadn’t hit back, I wouldn’t be punished, as was school policy.

In the principal’s office, Tammy and I sat side-by-side waiting to be called in. “Let’s say nuthin’ happened okay?” she said. “Sure,” I responded, not looking at her. Inside the office, though, I told the truth. That she’d hit me, and I’d done nothing.

But I’d underestimated Tammy. She insisted that I’d provoked her when she hit me, getting in her face, taunting her and saying, “Bring it on, bitch.” I hadn’t. There had been witnesses. I could prove it. But we both knew we’d called each other plenty of other things as provocation previously, and we knew we’d go down together for this dumb fight in this shithole town.

We were both given in-school suspensions in a single room behind the school called the Quack Shack where you weren’t allowed to speak all day and could only do homework. As we walked the first morning to serve our time in the Quack Shack, Tammy turned to me and said, “Let’s just be mutual frands okay?” But I wasn’t having it. I explained smugly that two people can’t really be mutual friends, they can only share mutual friends, since a mutual friend, by definition, is another person you have in common. “Fucking bitch,” she muttered.

She was right, but it’s not like she could punch me again. There were teachers watching.

Alana Levinson, Deputy Editor: When I was underage and growing up in San Francisco, I used a fake ID to get into bars. My favorite was the Elbo Room (RIP), which didn’t seem to care that it was expired or that I looked nothing like Jocelyn from Upstate New York. One night, I noticed my shoe was untied, and I went to sit down in an empty seat on a communal bench to rectify the situation. The girl to my right aggressively objected, telling me her friend was just going to the bathroom and would be right back. I assured her it would only take a minute to tie my shoe, and that I’d be up before she got back.

This feisty lady wouldn’t take that for an answer, demanding I get up whilst calling me a “heteronormative bitch.” I was in my teens, but I knew what this meant and that she meant it as an insult. (It was San Francisco, after all.) The friend I was with, who is now a recovering alcoholic, wasn’t having it and immediately clocked her, sparking a lightweight brawl amongst the two groups of friends. We quickly came to and realized fist fighting in a bar when you’re underage probably isn’t the best idea, so we grabbed our shit and ran out. Luckily, the girls didn’t follow us, and we somehow managed to fly under the radar of the Elbo Room’s staff, who continued to keep letting me in with my shitty ID throughout the remainder of my wild teen years.

Jeff Gross, Content Marketing: At some point during my freshman year at UC Berkeley, a few of my water polo teammates and I headed out to Moraga, an affluent suburb outside of Oakland, to the party of a girl from that area we knew from the dorms. One of my teammates, Andy, had what most people would consider a bit of a drinking problem. The problem was, when he drank, he was a total prick who liked to start fights. I didn’t like him at all for this very reason.

It didn’t take more than a few minutes of beer pong for Andy, who had been taking belts of vodka in the car en route, to antagonize every guy at the party. Before long, we were outside the house surrounded by a bunch of dudes intent on running us out of there, which would’ve been fine with me except that Andy had other ideas. He’s chirping away as I’m trying to calm everyone down.

What happened next was a blur. I do know I was headbutted directly in face, mainly due to the fact that I was on my knees and blood was spurting out of my mouth. Andy had ran when I got popped, which was a bummer, especially since I was now surrounded by three or four guys who were taking turns teeing off on my head with their fists.

Not sure who dragged me out of there, but I was glad when they did.

My teeth were numb for six months afterwards.

But basically: Fuck Andy.