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Pugnacious hags would like it here
My, our local young men sure like to fight

Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 10/27/2012

By Paul Akers

THE THOROUGH crime reporting of Keith Epps--I envision him, pen and pad in hand, right behind the G-men as they kick in the door of Mad Dog Coll's hideout--suggests a pronounced tendency of young males in this area toward drunken fisticuffs. In the lingo of the hills, they are "bad to fight."

Few moons pass without headlines announcing a fracas at some joint in Central Park, downtown Fredericksburg, or those parts of Stafford where a necktie is a thing your lawyer wears. One of the out-of-town proprietors of F.W. Sullivan's, the subject of recent police attention, told me in exasperation, "We never have this kind of thing in Richmond."

As a former resident of the Holy City, I can confirm the owner's declaration. People of all ages drink there without bodies being thrown through plate-glass windows, bouncers dancing on the heads of downed drunks, or patrons engaging in mass mêlees reminiscent of Day 13 at the Alamo.

When I lived in the Fan, I often walked to Joe's Inn for dinner or drinks. I never saw a punch thrown or heard a voice raised in anger. Between the long mahogany bar and the wall shelves of bottled booze in gay circus colors, no barkeeper had to call down an unruly customer.

So what's wrong with us?

I place the local tendency of single males to cap nights out with a busted head and a visit to the cooler under my Unifying Theory of Too Big Too Fast. This describes the growth rate of Greater Fredericksburg during the last few decades, when swarms of Northern Virginians and other aliens (ich bin ein come-here), drawn by cheap digs, descended on a small city and its adjacent rural counties and upended traditional living habits.

Outsiders move to Richmond, too, of course, but at a pace at which they can be assimilated. Around here, immigration was diluvial. Hordes of newcomers put down stakes far from their extended families and with no community ties. So we became a collection of strangers with few shared interests, thrown together almost by chance. Think of our region as a vast military base, without the discipline.

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