So this weekend was the first weekend since I’ve been in Dallas that my parents and older brother came in to visit me. My parents had bought tickets to the Cowboys-Redskins game. It was the first Cowboys game that my father and brother (both lifelong Cowboys fans) had ever had an opportunity to see. It was my mother’s 2nd Cowboys game, and it was the first time my mother (a Cowboys fan who has begun to worship the ground beneath Parcells’s feet) had a chance to see the Tuna in action. Needless to say, we were all very excited.
We arrived at the game just at the opening kickoff. My mom (who is 53 years old) stopped to grab a beer for her and my father, my brother and I went to grab two sodas, and my father took an early pit stop. We got our sodas first, and as I walked up to my mom’s line, I saw a guy that was standing behind her blatantly step in front of her and order two beers. Presumably, both of these beers were for him, since the smell of alcohol hung about this guy like cheap aftershave. He was in his mid-30s and in relatively decent shape. I saw no reason why he needed to get his beers without waiting in line.
My mom, never one to take such things sitting down, stepped up and told the serving lady that she had been in line in front of this guy and would like to have her order taken first. The guy put his hand up in front of my mom’s face and continued to order. The serving lady took the man’s order, gave him his beers, and then turned to my mom.
Since I am irrationally protective of the people I love, and especially irrational when it comes to my mother, my first impulse was to grab this guy by his throat and see how far I could throw him. I admit that I barely resisted this impulse. Instead, as he walked away from my mother with his two beers, I put one arm around his shoulders and started to walk with him. “Listen,” I said, “maybe next time you should wait your turn in line rather than cutting in front of a woman.” Although my words probably appear relatively gentle, I don’t think the message was exactly pacifist.
He eyed me suspiciously, sizing up the situation. “Yeah,” he agreed. “Sorry about that. You’re right. I’ll do that next time.”
“Good,” I said. I patted him on the back, and let him go, wondering if I’d let him off too easy.
He quickly walked about 4 steps, but then apparently thought better of giving in to my irrational demands, and said over his shoulder while still walking away, “Yeah, fuck you.”
This flipped my switch. “Hey!” I shouted, and began walking after this guy. He kept walking, and I kept walking after him, peppering him with surly comments about his manhood and inviting him to come back and say any of those things to my face.
Eventually, he ducked into the tunnel to go to his seat, and I let him go. I jogged back to where my parents were, still standing next to the beer line, waiting for me and wondering why I’d chased this guy 20 yards through the stadium. I have no doubt they were thoroughly embarrassed by my actions.
So we got to our seats and sat down to enjoy the game (to the extent my parents could enjoy a game after my humiliating display). My mom sat on the aisle because she likes to be able to get out easily and gets claustrophobic in tight quarters.
There was a group of about a dozen or so guys in their 20s seated behind us. Like my friend from before, the group was enjoying numerous beers. Like my friend from before, the guy behind my mom thought it would be funny to pick on her. He pushed himself up to the front edge of his seat, pushed his knees to either side of her head, and began laughing about it to his buddies.
My mom pushed his knees back and said, “Hey, scoot back in your seat! Get your legs off of me!”
The guy laughed and said, “What? What’s the big deal? It’s not like I’m touching your head with the insides of my thighs.” He scooted forward a bit more.
My mom tried to push his legs away again, but he didn’t move. My older brother, who runs about 6 foot 2 and 220 lbs., stood up and told him, “Move your legs. Now.”
The guy looked over at his friends for support. “What are you gonna do? Are you trying to make something?”
My adrenalin was still pumping from the incident that had happened a mere 5 minutes earlier, so I stood up and started to draw back a fist, deciding who I was going to punch first. My father, 59 years old and smaller than anyone in either group, put one hand on my chest, and another hand on my older brother’s arm. We paused. He looked back at the guy behind my mom. “Move back, please,” he said.
To the credit of the people in this guy’s group, they all jumped forward and told their buddy to move back. He cussed a little, but moved.
The rest of the game went without incident, but the damage was done. It was incredibly difficult for me to relax and enjoy the game. Not only had my city represented itself as a bunch of fucksticks, but I had come across as being no better than them. My parents have probably gone home and begun a fervent prayer vigil, fearing that this type of situation is typical of my city, and thinking that I get in fights on a daily basis. I’m embarrassed for ever bringing my parents into such a situation, and I doubt I’ll ever take them to another game. I just hope they’ll want to come back to visit under some circumstances.
If they do return, I hope that it’s not too much to ask that the men of Dallas – even the drunken men – not show their manhood by picking on older women. And I hope it’s not too much to ask of myself that I not resort to violence in some idiotic attempt to prove my own manhood.