At least that's been my experience in Frederick.
|Photo courtesy of railfanguides.us/md/frederick/|
Generally, it's not OK to make assumptions about an entire town based on a single experience ... but in this case, I think it's warranted, and I hope you do too.
One weekend, my friend Justin took me and a bunch of other friends down to Frederick so we could see firsthand how great his hometown really was. On our first night in Frederick, we went to a place called the Old Town Tavern. It seemed like a pretty standard bar to me, but online reviewer Jimbo Morrison IV, a prolific reviewer of Frederick hot spots and a man whose Google+ photo shows him brandishing a shotgun, had these disparaging comments about the establishment: "worst wings ever.... filthy establishment... always packed with underage children, mostly girls looking for a free drink. constantly there are patrons looking for a fight. i would give it 1 star but the staff is really friendly. good place to go pick up loose women..."
Had I read Morrison IV's review, I may have acted differently. But I didn't. So after a few beers, I came up with an idea on how to make the night more interesting. My plan was simple: We were going to get into a fight, but not with the other patrons of the Old Town Tavern. We were going to get into a fight with each other. More specifically, my friend Dan was going to punch me in the face, and I was going to go down hard.
Because my friends were also drinking the way 23-year-old white males tend to drink, they thought the plan was great. I knew the success of this stunt rested entirely on our commitment to following through with everything; we couldn't afford to half-ass this one. I sensed Dan, the main player, seemed a bit apprehensive about the plan, so I offered a little pep talk: "Look, you've got to hit me here. You can't hold back, either," I told Dan. "There had to be a few times you felt like punching me before, just draw on that and hit me like you f#cking mean it."
To his credit, Dan actually hit me. The moment Dan's right hand connected squarely with the left side of my face, I threw my body backward in the direction of the empty chairs behind me with complete abandon. There was a lot of noise, and a bunch of things got knocked over, so we definitely got everyone's attention. But the patrons of the Old Town Tavern didn't react quite the way I expected. Like most of my ideas, I hadn't really thought about what would happen after the fact.
When Morrison IV said "constantly there are patrons looking for a fight," he wasn't exaggerating. The moment Dan's fist connected with my face, virtually every guy in the place followed suit.
Our fake fight was the catalyst for a chain reaction, and almost instantly everyone in the entire bar was throwing punches.
It was just like what happens when you're at a place where there's lots of people and there's loud music, and you just know people want to dance but, for some reason, people aren't dancing. Then, one brave couple heads out to the dance floor, and the next thing you know the place is dancing. It was just like that only violent and dangerous and not fun at all.
In a matter of seconds, the entire bar was fighting; it was the epitome of a bar fight. The only thing I can compare it to is a fight scene in "Roadhouse." I didn't stick around to try and clear up the misunderstanding and let the rest of the participants know what really happened. While the rest of the Old Town Tavern beat the shit out of each other, my friends and I went out the front door unnoticed. You'd think at least one person would see Dan and me sneaking out together and think, "Wait a minute ... why are the two guys who started this wonderful bar fight leaving together ... and why are they laughing like a bunch of schoolgirls?" But no one did.
Once we made it out of there, we found a nice spot that a was safe distance from the action and watched the surreal scene -- a scene we were responsible for creating -- play out. Eventually, order was restored to the Old Town Tavern when a bunch of cop cars showed up, placed the individuals who they felt were most responsible in cuffs and drove away. Little did Frederick's finest know, the real instigators were less than 100 yards away watching the whole thing.
Looking back on the Frederick Fight, I'm not sure what I expected to happen. Dan would punch me in the face, the bouncers would rush over to toss us out and I'd yell out "It was an act! We staged the whole thing; we're actually friends" the moment before they got their burly arms around our necks. The bouncers would stop, there would be a tense moment where I wouldn't know how things would got, then the bouncers would burst out laughing. "That was hilarious," one of the bouncers would say. "You should be a comedian!" the other would add. Then, they'd would usher my friends and me off to some makeshift VIP section where we'd drink free the rest of the night.
Well, maybe not exactly like that. But I did expect to be able to talk my way out of the situation, and I certainly didn't expect Dan's punch to lead to the arrest of several Frederick residents. Do I feel bad people wound up being taken away in cop cars? Absolutely not. Look, if you're the kind of person who starts throwing punches just because you see other people doing it, chances are you're going to spend a lot of time in the back of a cop car or in an octagon or both.
I do feel bad for anyone who was simply looking to "pick up some loose women" and wound up getting slugged in the process. But even if Dan and I didn't start a fake fight, chance are something would've eventually happened because, as Morrison IV put it, "constantly there are patrons looking for a fight." And if based on his detailed reviews of everything in the town from Old Town to Arby's, that man knows Frederick.