I seem to be more confrontational in my old age.
A couple of weeks ago at the Michael Moore gig at the Roundhouse, there was a big queue for the toilet during the interval, so I set out to urinate in the make-shift car-park at the back. As I unzipped my fly, a large shaven-headed bouncer shouted at me, "Oi! Are you pissing on my car?"
I should have realised that it was extremely unlikely that it actually was his car. I should also have been aware that he had been standing by a portacabin, waiting for someone to urinate in the car-park. It was clearly his job to stop it. He could have stopped me earlier as I crossed in front of him, but he was going for a theatrical effect. The man's job was stopping people urinating in a car-park. That must be a hard thing to admit to yourself. You would have to compensate for the loss of ego by acting like a tough man, as if he was a detective arresting a murderer. I wish I'd said, "Is this your car? What an amazing coincidence. I wonder if you could recite yout number-plate for me."
Instead I said, "I'm wasn't going to piss on it. I was going to piss behind it."
This fact momentarily confused him.
He advance towards me, all macho, trying to stand too close to me, to intimidate me, make me scared. But I wasn't really scared. I thought it was amusing.
"Why are you pissing in the car-park? It's disgusting, you animal."
"There's a big queue for the toilet..."
"So what. You will fucking queue up with everyone else. Pissing in the car-park. Disgusting."
Now I admit that it is quite unpleasant of me to piss in the car park (although it is in fact more a patch of waste-land, with the cars parked on mud and grass) and if everyone did it then it would created a fetid and unhygienic quagmire, so I can understand why the Roundhouse employ one of their staff to stop people doing it. I think if the bouncer had chosen to point that out to me politely, probably as he saw me heading into the car-park, rather than waiting to catch me "in the act", then I would have immediately apologised and gone and queued up.
But because he was being such a dick I tried to talk to him about it, and managed, at the time at least, not to be too intimidated by his aggression. We both knew he couldn't hit me. I hadn't done anything. I hadn't even pissed a bit.
He continued to take out his frustration at being an anti-piss monitor, calling me names and swearing at me and asking me what I thought I was doing. He instructed me to go and queue up with everyone else, all the time playing to the queue. Trying to humiliate me. But I wasn't humiliated. I am not embarrassed that I tried to urinate al fresco. I believe that every man in that queue had done something similar. He called me a "muppet" (or it might have been a "mop-head", I wasn't quite sure, but either option amused me). I asked him if he had never weed outside. He claimed that he never had, whilst re-iterating how animalistic and disgusting I was. I expressed astonishment at this lie. Then I queued up with the others and actually didn't have to wait very long at all. I had been wrong to try and wee in the car-park, but as Jesus said "let he who is without sin, wee the first wee."
Afterwards I did feel a little shaken, partly through the delayed shock of being threatened by a much bigger and stronger man, but mainly because I wished I had come back with wittier and more sarcastic retorts to the big monkey. I would truly have loved to point out to him the nature of his job. I think he might have hit me.
The incident that happened today was on the tube. I was waiting to get on the Bakerloo line north at Oxford Circus. As the train pulled in I stood by one of the doors. I was first in the queue. But the bloke behind me was standing much too close, forcing me to stand in front of the door. I asked him to move back so people could get off. He said "You move, I was here first". Now from my perception he had sidled up well after I had, but I may be wrong. I think maybe the train shifted a little bit, so my prime position became a blocking one. I am pretty sure he sidled, but I may be wrong. In any case, I refused to move for him. Which is what interests me, because when I was younger I would have backed down, but I tend not to now. It became a stupid, macho face-off like before. He kept badgering me. I told him to fuck off. He said, "Don't tell me to shut up."
I said "I didn't. I told you to fuck off"
He called me a "shabby cunt". My hair is long at the moment and I had grown my beard for an acting part. I found this quite amusing again, and in hindsight was quite flattered that he didn't call me a "fat cunt" - the diet is clearly working. But I didn't rise to it any further nor did I chose to make a sarcastic comment about the sophistication of his clothing.
We sat almost opposite each other until Paddington, each ignoring the other, though I tried to look as if I was mental to try and intimidate him. Within about two stops I had realised how pathetic we were both being and was laughing to myself about our attempts to be the alpha male over something so trivial (hopefully the laughing to myself made the mental act more convincing). I realised that I wasn't even sure who was right about the positions we were standing in as the tube arrived. I thought about making a reconciliatory, mutually piss-taking comment as I got off, but wasn't sure he'd find it as amusing as me.
He wasn't a big twat like the Roundhouse ape, but it is fascinating to observe men's battles for status (even over the most humiliating and unimportant of issues), especially when one of the men is me, so can really view that stupidity from inside.