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My, our local young men sure like to fight
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By Paul Akers
The dustups at local watering holes illustrate the absence of restraint that comes with a weak sense of community. When an indigenous culture is overwhelmed by a motley flood of humanity, all that survives by default is the popular culture--the one, laden with violence, rudeness, and imbecility, that comes to us via our TVs, iPods, and other drek dispensers.
Thus we live in a place that lacks broad refinement and an instinctual preference for peaceableness. It is like what Wellington said while looking over his troops before Waterloo: "I don't know if they scare Napoleon, but by God they scare me."
This is not to say that all my experiences in clubs, dives, and joints elsewhere have been totally irenic. Two stories.
(1) One afternoon in an ill-lit hole in Spring Hill, W.Va., I took a seat at the bar and ordered a beer. I glanced down the bar. On the end stool sat a wrinkled old woman with stringy hair and the kind of concave mouth that means no teeth. I was 190 pounds and just out of the Marines. She wouldn't have weighed 90 pounds carrying a sack of bowling balls. She looked at me, scowled, squinted, and said in a slow, deliberate voice, "You say one word to me and I'll knock you off that stool."
(2) My introduction to this area came during training at Fort A.P. Hill. One evening a few of us drove down Route 2 to a Caroline pool hall. We were tolerated by the locals but nothing more.
At the next table sat a family--two or three grown sons, a daughter-in-law or two, and a large, ruddy older woman who looked like she could take a bronze in the hammer toss. All at once, the old lady slammed her beer glass on the table and glared at one of the young men. She began to shake, then, rising from her chair, hollered, "I'll kill him! I'll kill the [most obscene word in the English language]!"
Hands were on her shoulders. "Now, Ma. Sit down, Ma."
We drove to the safety of the Enlisted Men's Club.
Paul Akers is editor of the opinion pages of The Free Lance-Star.