Friday, March 02, 2012
A few weeks ago, a very strange series of events took place at a bar on Jack Frost Mountain in the beautiful town of Lake Harmony. This is how I remember things happening:
I'd just come back from skiing, and a group of my friends had snagged a few tables directly in front of a band that was covering staples of 90's rock radio like, "Santeria," and "Lump." I sat down, had a a beer and decided tostay for a while. I was talking with my friends, but it was impossible not to notice the people at the table across from us. All told there were maybe 15 women between the ages of 35 and 60. They were dancing and singing and drinking excessively. When the band broke into "Under Pressure," the women's enthusiasm was at a fever pitch. One heavily tattooed lady with a Dee Snider haircut and a Paul Giamatti body played the most passionate air guitar I'd ever seen. After few more songs, the band took a break. That's when a couple of Yuengling reps announced it was time to do the drawing for a free snowboard. It also happened to be when I decided to start chanting, "U.S.A. ... U.S.A. ... U.S.A.!" A few of my friends joined in, but the chanting died down pretty quickly, and I'm pretty sure we failed to convince the rest of the bar that the snowboard drawing was a patriotic moment.
Here's the thing: I've always loved chanting U.S.A. at unexpected and often uncomfortable times. Sometimes people will actually join in, but most times people just stare in confusion. No one has ever asked why I was chanting. So I wasn't really prepared when one of the women from the large group was over at our table questioning my friend Ryan about the motives behind my U.S.A. chant. Apparently she wasn't satisfied with his answer, because after he finished, she asked me directly. I considered trying to explain myself to her, "You know how sometimes crowds of people will spontaneously break into U.S.A. chants -- like when they announced that we killed Osama Bin Laden? Well, what I'm doing isn't anything like that ... with me, it's totally different, you know? I like to chant at off-peak times, like when a guy starts screaming at his wife in a 7-11 or a beer guy gives away a snowboard to a lucky drunk person, you know? I can't tell you exactly what types of things make me chant; it just kind of happens. I just know when the moment is right."
Instead I just said, "I kinda like to do weird shit sometimes."
But this woman wasn't curious, she was suspicious. Unbeknownst to me, the women sitting across from us were all very Puerto Rican -- and all very proud of it. Also unbeknownst to me, these proud Puerto Rican women interpreted my U.S.A. chant to be some weird type of challenge to the legitimacy of their citizenship -- to the entire citizenship of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, I guess. In fact, one of the things that lady said to my friend was, "You know we're U.S. Citizens, too. Right?" As if I'd ever questioned it in the first place. As if in the middle of a Yuengling snowboard raffle, in the middle of a loud, crowded bar, I thought to myself, "How can show these Puerto Rican bitches what I think of their homeland? Oh yeah, I got this."
For the record, I had no idea these women were Puerto Rican. It's not like they were all wearing tee-shirts that said, "Don't fuck with Puerto Rico." And even if I did know about their nationality, it's not like I was standing on my table, pointing at them and chanting, "This is U.S.A./You don't belong/Your country is a joke/Go back home/Go back home!"
But none of that mattered. These rough, tattooed, Freddy-Mercury worshiping, beer-guzzling broads were convinced that they'd been wronged, and they didn't intend to take it lying down. After the incident, several of them made some aggressive gestures toward the girls in our group. And in the ladies' room, a member of our group overheard members of the Puerto-Rican Pride Posse fuming about my actions. When she tried to explain that my false patriotism had nothing to do with them, she got nowhere. The situation became so tense that a few of the guys in our group started tossing out hypotheticals.
"So what happens if they do try to fight us?"
"I think we just push them ... we push them really, really hard."
Then I did what I do best: I left everyone else to deal with the situation that I created. And because of my early departure, I missed out on something truly special. While I was out skiing, the slighted Puerto Rican ladies all decided to stand up on their chairs, face my friends and belt out an impassioned version of "God Bless America." After their rendition (not sure if the Snider/Giamatti woman broke out the air guitar), they abruptly left the bar. But not before stopping in front of my friends' and bidding them, "Adios, bitches." After hearing the rest of the story from the guy who was prepared to push these angry women "really, really hard" if things got out of control, all I could think was: "I can't wait to write this up on my shitty blog."