There isn't much to do in small towns but challenge yourself by challenging each other, and I wasn't in the bar long before I saw it building up. A small group of older but tough looking men were at the other end of the bar. They were declining an invitation to step outside with a larger group of younger, athletic looking dudes.
This only seemed to raise the confidence of the young clan. I saw the tell-tale looks of encouragement they gave each other, as their chests began to puff like monkeys at the zoo.
Only a few of the older men were standing, most of them remained seated, beer in hand. I heard one of them say " I guess we're not getting out of here without teaching these boys a thing or two". His friend, a big man with a deep gruff voice, acknowledged it as truth. He turned to what seemed to be the leader of the young pack and said, "boy, we've been nice long enough. This is your warning, go on your way or get schooled"
At the time that I'm writing this I'm around the same age as the older men in this story. But at the time it all took place I was somewhere between the ages of both parties. I knew a few faces from each group, but really had no reason to pick a side. I could easily have stayed out of it and enjoyed the entertainment.
But I admit at the time I also loved a good fight. I also loved to claim moral high ground. So my mind was made up quickly that if this fight broke out I would help the side with smaller numbers and an aging population.
It seemed the right thing to do, help the old guys out. Afterall one of them had a noticeable limp, and another kept rubbing his right shoulder and moving it in circles, as if to warm it up, or maybe even to keep it from seizing altogether. So when that warning was issued, "go on your way or get schooled" I read it as a last ditch attempt to sound tough and avoid getting beat up today without losing pride. I couldn't have been more wrong.
The leader of the young pack swung first as I charged off my barstool, surely to save these old guys. I'll let you use your imagination for the details, but let's just say that by the time I got there, I realized it was the young guys I would have to save!!
I grabbed a hold of one and dragged him to the door. I was met by one of the old guys who had the same idea as me. He used one arm to push his would-be-assailant out the door, and extended the other to shake my hand and said "Welcome to the party brother! My name's Dan." And Suddenly I was in one of those old Clint Eastwood movies with the comedic barfight scenes.
The young group was quickly rounded up and outside, bruised egos and bewildered brains still trying to figure out what just happened. Big Dan turned to them and barked, "Now leave or I'm gonna beat the hell outta all of your dads!" I laughed out loudly as we turned and went back into the bar.
As we walked back into the bar I noticed one guy limping again, another rubbing his shoulder, but no one said a word about these hurts. We took turns telling our versions of what happened, along with stories of battles from younger years. Soon the subject changed to stories of cars, motorbikes, women, fishing, hunting, and just good old boy banter.
When the subject came back to the fight that just occured it was Big Dan thanking me for getting involved. I laughed and said I didn't think they actually needed me, and I said the words that would later start a movement. I turned to them and said "score one for the OMP". They all asked at once, " whats OMP?" "well its Old Man Power of course" I answered. They bellowed out the biggest laughs of the day. We ordered some shots of straight vodka and toasted "to the OMP". And it turned into a very, very long night.