We were living on campus in a trashy town at a dumpy school where High Times magazine interviewed my roommate (Doyal) for an article they were publishing about The Evergreen State College being the most pot-friendly campus in the country. Drugs were everywhere and everybody was a do-nothing know-it-all with something to prove. So there were a lot of crazy people to fight. And I was one of them.
For a guy who grew up as scrawny and nerdy as I did, I sure did my best to establish a reputation as a badass on campus. Usually, in my mind, I was starting fights in a friendly way, finding people who were game. I guess I got impatient. I eventually hit enough people in the face that I could get strangers to back down just by getting in their face a little.
In my fantasy, this was because I was some kind of terror, an intimidating motherfucker of the highest caliber, jackbooting my way across campus and leaving a trail of terror and punk rock destruction in my wake. It didn’t occur to me until quite a while later that maybe I was just a violent drunken asshole and most people would rather leave the party than get in a fight with a guy like that.
Also, the school was almost 100 percent white kids. I don’t know exactly how things would have changed with a different ethnic makeup but I doubt it would have gone down the same. Thank God for easily-frightened white kids.
In the meantime, I was stoked to be such a badass! Man, if I ever ran into the kids who picked on me in elementary school, I’d just show the shit out of them! They sure would be sorry! I took a cheap black jacket I found at the thrift store and sewed a Slayer patch on the left breast, and a tiny Black Sabbath patch on the back. The sew jobs were shitty and the patches began falling off. I was so excited and proud of myself.
Around this time, Tyler began regularly banging a girl named Lisa. Now, anyone (everyone) willing to bang Tyler was pretty messed up to begin with, but Lisa may have taken the cake. We didn’t know this right away, but she was completely nuts.
While everyone still thought she was relatively normal, she’d come by and sometimes she and I would hang out. We talked about all kinds of stupid college bullshit: photography, masculinity and femininity issues, anger at our families.
At some point, she decided she didn’t want people to call her Lisa anymore. Her German name, apparently, was Leila, and she wanted to be called that instead.
I believed I’d been pretty forgiving of some of her pretentious artsy crap, because I thought she was hot, but I decided to draw a line there. I kept calling her Lisa. I felt like it was bullshit to introduce yourself as one thing and then, for no reason, demand to be called something else. I just didn’t have the patience for it.
I still liked her fine, though, and sometimes when she came over we’d hang out. Eventually my whole fighting habit came up and she said she wanted in.
“Well, sure,” I said, “find a girl to fight and bring her over. We could make a night out of it.”
“No,” she said, “I mean I’ll fight you.”
We were in the kitchen. Doyal and Tyler and Molly and Darren and a good half-dozen other people were sitting around smoking weed and drinking whiskey and all of a sudden I felt very much on the spot.
“I’m not gonna fight you,” I said. To a sober man, this is the obvious answer. Any guy will tell you, it’s the worst possible situation for a fight. You either end up the asshole who beat up a woman or the biggest pussy of all time, a jackass who got his ass kicked by a girl.
I said, “That’s ridiculous.”
“Why?” she said. “If you think feminism is bullshit” – at the time, I was in such a foul mood about people that I felt pretty sure every opinion anyone had ever had was bullshit, including feminism – “and women shouldn’t get any special treatment, then why not?”
“Uh, I don’t know. I’m bigger than you.”
“What, so you only fight people your exact fucking size?”
I had a pretty comfortable, brain-killing drunk going on and I was running out of excuses not to fight her.
“Look, you’re gonna hate it. I’m gonna put a choke hold on you and it’ll piss you off and you’ll tap out and that’ll be it.”
Boy, did I love the choke hold. It was my go-to move and out of ten wins, I could thank the choke hold for seven or eight of them. About half the people I beat with it said it was a cheap move. I didn’t think that made any sense. This wasn’t Street Fighter II. This was two real life people in a fight. It wasn’t like I hit them in the nuts.
“What,” said Lisa, “you’re gonna use some pussy-ass choke hold? You’re gonna fight cheap against a girl?”
I couldn’t tell if she was flirting or just being a bitch. But either way the idea of fighting her began to sound really fun.
I looked over at Tyler. Surely he would talk me out of it, and since he was sort-of dating her, I’d have to respect his request.
Tyler was laughing his balls off. He was delighted by the idea.
I had nowhere to squirm and by now I didn’t really want to.
“Okay,” I said. “Let’s do it.”
“Yeah?” she said. She was excited now. The sweaters started coming off. It was go time.
I made a plan in my head. I would back her off, let her get all her crazy out while I had her at a distance, then I’d grab her arms and hold her down until she admitted it was over.
That plan didn’t work for shit.
Lisa was out of her mind. She came at me like a complete savage. I kept cool for a second but almost immediately I was having the time of my life. We rolled all over the kitchen and living room floors and down the hall. People couldn’t get out of our way fast enough and we knocked a couple people down. I was holding back a little bit, still, but she started using her fingernails to scratch me and in my mind, she’d suddenly given up her frailty as a reason for me to fight respectfully. She was fighting like a badass and I couldn’t be happier.
Eventually we rolled into the bathroom, and then kicked our way into the little side room where the bathtub was kept separate and knocked the door shut. We were grunting and breathing heavily and Molly started knocking on the door, asking what was happening in there.
I knew what she had to be thinking, so I decided to do the respectful thing and make it clear this wasn’t a pre-fuck.
I had Lisa bent up over the rim of the bathtub, and I looked down and saw the tub drain. This was a house inhabited by six disgusting men in their early 20s. The drain was packed with hair and loogies and all of it had been peed on a hundred times.
I pushed Lisa’s face down into it.
Lisa lost her mind and screamed and flailed around until she finally agreed the fight was over. We both came out and drank as much whiskey as we could each handle, and that was that. Although Molly was pissed at me for weeks.
I felt like the whole thing had been pretty cool, and Lisa seemed all right with it too, once she’d been able to wash her face off. But later on she started dating a guy named TJ and got into punching fights with him in public all the time and they’d both walk around with black eyes they’d given each other. Somehow I knew where they were coming from but felt it crossed a line.
Plus, another time she and TJ were out walking on campus in the snow. They ended up playing and rolling around in the mud, which, again, I could understand, but then Lisa said, “Oh my God, TJ, I have the best idea. We should both pee our pants!”
Whereupon she actually did pee her pants. TJ told us the story later.
I can’t exactly claim to have been in my right mind during this whole period in my life. And Tyler brought home some pretty crazy women. But I always had love for Lisa for really taking the prize on crazy, Olympia-makes-me-nuts batshit behavior.
Words: Sean Murray
Art: Manuel Martinez