In late 1998, my wife of 11 years decided she’d had enough of me and gave me the boot.  To help console me, a couple of my friends took me to B.L.U.E.S. On Halsted, a Chicago blues club.  I know what you’re thinking: “a blues club to cheer you up?”  But really, it didn’t take long for me to think. “wow, I get it, my woman done left me and I DO want to drink myself stupid!”

When we entered the club, it was pretty crowded.  A usual Chicago mix of people: young and older women, young and older men, the crusty neighborhood drunk at the bar (so drunk the barkeep wouldn’t let me buy him a beer).

I immediately noticed a dude at the end of the bar closest to the stage.  He was a bodybuilder type sitting by himself, no date.  He was dressed in trendy clothes and had an obvious air of douchebag about him.  The way he kept looking around to see if anybody was checking him out screamed “I’m not here to see great live music, I’m here to get laid or kick some ass.”  I hate those types.

I stood near the stage as the band started.  The place was packed by then.  One of my friends was near me; I’m not sure where the other was.  I was standing right in front of the bodybuilder guy’s barstool.  The band was Jimmy Johnson, an old Chicago guy who’s been around forever.  Great stuff, and the crowd was digging it.

Joe Douchebag came back from the restroom or something and bumped into my back as he was getting to his barstool.  I turned and said, “sorry, man, it’s kinda crowded in here.”  He took his seat.  I turned back to the stage and kept grooving.

About a minute later he tapped me on the shoulder.  I turned, and he said, “what did you say?”

I said, “nothing, just that it’s kinda crowded.”  Back to the music and ignoring J.D. and his eye-watering cologne.

He stood up (I could kinda see him out of the corner of my eye) and yelled, “YOU BETTER NOT HAVE A PROBLEM, ‘CUZ I CAN KICK ANYBODY’S ASS IN THIS PLACE!”  I paid no heed, nor did anybody else, really, because the music was pretty loud and only people in the immediate vicinity could hear him.

My friend who was closest turned to him and said, “do what ya gotta do.”  He also turned back to the stage, grooving.

I kept my back to him as if nothing had happened.  I was singing along, dancing, and clapping my hands.  I could feel Joe’s foot roughly kicking against the back of my heel under the guise of him “getting into the music” like everyone else.  He was trying to start something, realizing the inane bravado chest-thumping was a bust.  No dice, douchebag.  This was too much fun.

Slowly the kicking stopped.  I could hear him, previously oblivious to the music, start to clap and cheer along with everyone else.  As if a light went off in his little pea brain that said, “hey, maybe I should chill out and pretend to enjoy myself.”

I’d like to say there was some exciting end to the story, like Jimmy called him out and made as ass out of him from the stage, or six big blues lovers took him out back for a righteous ass-kicking.

But it illustrates a simple fact I’ve learned over the years.  Assholes with no personality who rely solely on the “I’m bigger and can maim you” thing can be pretty easily taken down if you just ignore them and let them embarrass themselves.  And they always do.

So, alpha butt-kicking males, stick to your plan.  You give the rest of the intelligent world a good laugh.

EPILOGUE:  My other friend talked to Jimmy after the show and ended up booking the band for a private Christmas party at his house about a month later.  It was a blast.  I’m assuming Joe Douchebag was out at another bar that same night, spreading his particular brand of meathead stupidity.  Hope he got his teeth knocked out.