When I was 17 and playing ball in the Mexican League, it wasn't unusual to find me, after a game, in a dark and smoky bar with a bunch of my team-mates trying to drown the woe of the world.
Looking back on it, I'd say that just about every guy on the Seraperos had early-onset drinking problem. There was hardly a night where there weren't nine or 11 or 17 of us in some joint bending out elbows, carousing, looking for women and generally drinking away our collective failures.
As Jorge "Snuffy" Afortunato, our back-up middle infielder used to say, "No traigo mis problemas a casa conmigo. Los dejo en una docena de bares por el camino." I don't bring my problems home with me, I leave them in a dozen bars along the way.
One night I was sitting in a booth with a bunch of my teammates. Issy Buentello was there, I remember, because he fairly came to my rescue. But I don't remember anyone else.
Anyway, we were sitting in a booth and drinking cervezas and eating sandwiches piled high with indiscriminate meat. All at once an arm came over the bench I was sitting on. It came from the other side of the bench. The ass the arm belonged to had decided to stretch out and extend his wing willy-nilly.
I had had more beer than I should have and drunkenness more often than not makes me mean.
"Hey," I yelled at the arm. And I pushed it back over to his side of the seat.
The arm flopped back.
"Andate a la cresta." Fuck you.
I pushed again the arm away.
"Hijo de puta." Mother fucker. "Mantén tu brazo de mierda de la madre en tu lado o te haré comerlo." Keep your motherfucking arm on your side or I'll make you eat it.
The arm flopped over again, the barroom equivalent of someone kicking sand in someone's face.
I stood up. He stood up. And we began a Socratic dialogue.
Finally I said something about his mother, a burlap sack full of hoboes and him not knowing which one was his father.
He round-housed me square on my drunken jaw and I went down like a sack of flour through a chute.
Buentello, 6'2" and about 220 popped out and helped me up. I tackled him and we rolled on the sawdust for five minutes slugging at each other despite being wrapped up.
When we finally got up, breathing through our mouths and glaring at each other, Buentello was making peace.
"Let me buy you mother fuckers a beer." He said laughing.
The arm said, "And let me buy you mother fuckers a beer."
We drank that night till four, buying our mother-fucking friends beers all the way till closing.
And the lead mother fucker kept his arm to himself.