Thursday, September 14, 2006

Blood on the porch: the night Flop almost killed me

It was the summer after college graduation. A bunch of people were still in Ann Arbor. We didn't have much to do. Most days I woke up around noon, took a several-miles run, read and napped for a few hours, and then met a group of people to start drinking and eating. Somewhere around four a.m. -- after much beering and smoking and arguing, and occasionally dancing on lawns and sidewalks, and occasionally befriending odd high schoolers, and then yet more beering and a fair amount of heckling and late-night projectiles to boot -- the steam would run out. I'd take a leisurely stroll home, wake up at noon, and repeat the cycle. (Yeah, go ahead and insist that college wasn't when you were happiest. Liar.)

I almost began to leave a comment about this over at Pissed & Petty today in response to a post about getting scraped up in a moment of drunken, rowdy oneupsmanship, when I decided that instead this was postworthy material. Given how often this story gets told and retold, I'm surprised I haven't recounted it before.

Our friend the accomplished filmmaker had just finished a production. Today he would be the first to admit that this particular project was not a triumph. I remember him describing it at the time: it was some sort of student-film short-form historical sci-fi adventure. There was something about dragons or monsters, which would be inserted using a crude college-level CGI. I don't suspect that he's proud.

That night, he had a wrap party. Many of his non-film friends -- including me and Flop -- were invited. There were costumes left from the film shoot. I was (and am) an enthusiastic lad. Relatively early in the night, I donned a viking helmet and some sort of leather armor. I swung a prop sord and shouted threats at the empty fraternity house next door.

It was a great night to be alive.

But Flop is not graceful. For about a year, he had been enjoying a favorite prank. I'm sure you've experienced it. Two people hold beer bottles. Using the base of one bottle, the first person delivers a strong tap to the top of the second person's bottle. The second person's bottle foams up, and a big mess of spilled beer ensues. To succeed, the tapper has to strike the tappee by surprise, lest the tappee's bottle be drawn back and protected.

Flop loved this shit. He was convinced that it was the height of comedic genius. You could reliably predict that on any night when people were hanging out with bottles of beer -- hence, every night that summer -- Flop was going to showcase this golden move. Only a fool or a knave would let his guard lapse.

Yet there we all were, on this beautiful summer night, drunk and celebratory on a front porch, owning the town and not worrying about anything but Molson or Labatt or Rolling Rock.

It was time for Flop to be hilarious.

I am standing on the porch chatting with our friend the filmmaker and his beloved then-girlfriend. Without warning, broken glass sprays everywhere, and so does my blood.

Flop's wackiness had gone horribly wrong.

Instead of a fizz-producing tap, Flop has slammed his beer bottle. Two bottles of Rolling Rock shatter, and the resulting debris has left cuts all over my hand.

I am bleeding profusely. Blood drips onto the front porch. It's trickling onto my clothes. I look down and see that this isn't one huge gash, but many small incisions peppering the back of my hands.

That sonuvabitch.

I unleash a torrent of invective. The filmmaker's beloved then-girlfriend (she was my friend first!) goes inside with me. I'm too drunk to be sensible. I'm bleeding and cursing and sweating and recriminating. We run water over my bloodied hand. Under the cold clear water, it is evident that I have not suffered a major attack on a vein or artery, and, thus, my death is not imminent. What I have instead is a collection of slices, none of them threatening in itself, yet collectively enough to trigger a collective bloodletting.

It's a product of unjustified violence, but at least I'll live.

Now, a person would think that after severely cutting me up -- because come the fuck on, this could easily have ended up with a severed artery or vein or nerve damage -- Flop would respond with humility or an apology.

But no.

Instead, I was the bad guy.

Unbelievably, the torrent of profanity and threats that I unleashed was so severe that poor delicate unimpeachable Flop was now the victim in the entire fiasco. After cutting me and bleeding me within a millimeter of my life, Flop rapidly went to work winning the propaganda war. In the immediate aftermath, few people remembered that I was almost mutilated to death.

Instead, what people remembered was that I was just so damn angry about getting chopped up that I was fucking mean to Flop. That was the lesson -- not, "Don't slam beer bottles and shred people with broken glass." Apparently, that lesson is boring.

"I can't believe how mean you were," said the filmmaker's beloved then-girlfriend.

Unfortunately, I didn't save the e-mail Flop sent the next day lambasting me for being "mean" to him after he nearly killed me. The whole experience was a little like barely evading an assassination attempt from by the Taliban, and then being lectured for expressing displeasure with the Taliban.

[Tangential aside: A google images search for beer bottles blood leads you to this.]

5 comments:

Crunk Raconteur said...

Okay, so let's recap. Flop was both steadfast and resolute in his constant repitition of the same stupid action (the beer bottle thing, which I experienced many times), and then, when it all goes to hell, he blames those who are most hurt by his ill-conceived plan.

Look on the bright sides:

1. At least he didn't deride you as not supporting the shards of glass.

2. At least he didn't actually use the word "Shrill" to describe your reaction.

3. And most of all, thank god he wasn't wearing a flight suit with padded junk.

But the point is unavoidable...in 1999, Flop, Nostradamus-like, predicted the rise of George W. Bush.

tommy o said...

Crunk, well played. Also, nice use of "junk" there.

Flop will be remembered as the liberator of beer and distilling, I mean, instilling democracy amongst all beer-kind.

Ryan said...

Ah, good times. Good times.

Flop said...

Crunk: Good points, but I never pretended that my trick was going to save the world for Jeebus. I only liked seeing Crimenotes (and, everyone else) say "motherfucker" while yet another beer foamed over.

That said, I did predict Bush in 1999 _ it's why I made sure to vote for McCain in the Republican primary. Why don't you ask who thought "the grownups would be in charge" during a Bush administration.

Crimenotes: I can't help it if you managed to squander your own goodwill by overreacting. You also failed to mention that I was in the kitchen helping you blot blood until you banished me.

That said, I think we both regard this night as a shining example of good, fun antics.

The best part about this night was that I got to hook up with evil girl later. There's a reason she's called evil girl, and I think part of it is that she found it hot that I drew blood.

Or maybe it was just pity. Or "padded junk."

Crunk Raconteur said...

After this post, I was very amused to see the Miller Lite Man Law commercial in which Burt Reynolds and company issue a man law against the flop prank...

Boy, that McCain sure is a straight talker!