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Lifelong friends make a discovery...
Even though I'd had a couple of beers I was still much less impaired than this guy.
"I was sitting there before; I just got up to take a leak."
"Well, I'm sittin' here now, an' I'm talking to ths prettylady here, so go'way."
I took a breath before I continued. I had the feeling that I could probably find a different seat without too much trouble, but I don't think this guy was one to accept a refusal from Katie. "Here's the thing, I don't think she's interested."
That got his attention. He was quickly standing in front of me, albeit, a little wobbly. He was clearly bigger than me. "Oh, you're wrong, boy. Ev'ry woman's in-tris-tid in me," he stated boastfully, emphasizing each slurred syllable of 'interested,' "and yurr 'bout to learn why."
As he spoke he took a step forward, and despite his drunkenness, timed a solid-looking left hook to his last words.
During our first year of college, Mel convinced me to take Bartitsu-a rare European self-defense mixed martial art (popularized in modern times by Sherlock Holmes)-as a physical education class with him. We both really enjoyed it, and took a few more semesters of it. Several semesters of a martial art and subsequent experiences in it have taught me 5 things: (1)to keep myself fit (2)expect the unexpected (3)reactions are slower (4)defend yourself until the threat is passed, but don't harm without reason and (5) higher skill and quicker thinking beat physical size almost every time.
I reacted instinctively, deflecting his blow easily, which threw him off balance, and in his drunken state, resulted in him on the floor. Before he could get untangled with the chair he collided with, Dan came bustling over, not happy. He had clearly seen the whole thing and clearly was mad, but not at me. By the way he was addressing the man I guessed that he was a regular, both here and at the local police station's "drunk tank."
Roughly an hour later, after the police sergeant who responded interviewed me, Katie, and some bystanders, he left, taking the drunken man with them. He assured me that I had done nothing wrong and stated, "If he presses charges, you got nothing to worry about-it was self-defense. If you press charges, you're an asshole-and you probably won't get anything, since he didn't even land the punch."
Katie and I went back inside to pay our tab, deciding that we didn't want to stay and have people watching us. When we got to our cars, Katie's didn't start, so I offered to take her home. We didn't talk the whole way to her house, and she kept surreptitiously glancing at me. When we pulled into her driveway, she didn't move for a minute.
"Katie, this is you," I said looking over at her.
"Well then what's up?"
She sat there for a second, and then turned to me.
"Where did you learn that?"
"That, back at the bar-the karate, or...or... kung Fu, or... whatever the hell that was!" she exploded from her quiet shell, almost yelling by the end of the outburst. Then there was silence. She was breathing hard after her little rant. I could tell that it concerned her-almost scared her-that I had bested a man so much bigger than me, even if he had been thoroughly drunk.
"It's called Bartitsu. It's a mixed martial art that originated in 1800s Britain as a form of self-defense. Thought we told you about it; Mel and I took it as a class together starting in freshmen year," I watched her carefully as I spoke, "Are you concerned that I know it? Or are you concerned that it isn't just breaking sticks and punching sandbags like most kids learn?"
She looked up at me, and our eyes locked. Her bright blue-gray eyes were watering.
"I didn't know that you knew any of that. When he swung at you..." she trailed off, breaking eye contact and looking down.
"Katie, were you scared for me?" The question hung in the air for a moment. Silently, she nodded her head once, still looking down.
"Katie, I don't-"
"Do you want to come inside? The couch is more comfortable for conversa