“You should have punched her,” my husband said the morning after the concert.
I had to admit, after turning the situation over and over in my mind, I was starting to agree. The first rule of Mom Fight Club? You don’t fuck with someone who has gone through childbirth or she will get medieval on your ass. But, can a mother of two, in good conscience, get into a brawl at a rock show and still be a good mother?
The question plagued me for days after the concert.
I’m not one of those people who gets into frays. I’m a sweet and small (5-foot tall) woman raising a pair of adorable 3-year-old twins. I occasionally like to put on a black plastic corset and go alone to a Marilyn Manson show. That in itself has never been a problem. But last month, at Terminal 5 in New York City, I encountered the mouthy idiot that exists at most events open to the public where alcohol is served. She was that sublime combination of stupid and drunk that you usually have to go to a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot after 2 a.m. to find. Standing at eye level to me, she had found someone just her size to pick on. Tapping me on the shoulder mid-show, she showed me a fake press pass and insisted I give up the tiny slice of air space I was taking up, leaning against the railing on the second level of the venue, so that she could see better.
Of course I laughed at this request and told her to go get security if she wanted me to move. Hoping the matter was resolved, I turned my attention back to my Pale Emperor on stage. But not a song passed before I felt the bony hip of my Lilliputian foe jutting into me. Pretending to dance in my direction, she was actually trying to physically push me out of my spot!
The situation had all the makings of a small-girl-on-small-girl fight.
Keeping my eyes glued to the stage, I felt the adrenaline kick in. “Fight! Fight!” Manson bellowed from the stage, rousing the audience to pump their fists and chant his Grotesque Burlesque refrain. It was egging me on. I could easily turn around and shove this bitch to ground, I thought to myself. But then a sequence of events that would most likely follow flashed through my mind—the girl would try to hit me back. Although her friend seemed embarrassed of her, she would back her up, and it would be two against one. Beers would be spilled, punches thrown and the top of my sleeveless dress would get yanked down. My adversary and I would get hauled off to jail, bruised and beaten.
A sense of gratefulness and girl power overwhelmed me. Here was a perfect stranger—a woman!—telling me she had my back.
Actually, in retrospect, all of this sounded pretty fuckin’ rock n’ roll. But still.
I’m not in a position where I can get myself into shenanigans. I have a pair of preschoolers at home who depend on me being there, alert and in one piece, every single morning of every week and month of the year. So even though something very primal inside me was telling me to slam this girl into next Tuesday, instead, I deflected her moves by dancing back in her direction and holding my ground until finally, she gave up.
I had done the sensible thing. But was it the right thing? Didn’t I want to set an example for my kids that when someone pushes you, you should defend yourself? As a kid, when a fellow camper started a daily ritual of kicking dirt into the girl group’s afternoon ice cream, my dad gave me a quick self-defense class. “You aim for the nose, and you don’t stop hitting until an adult pulls you off,” my dad schooled me, holding up his palms for me to practice my roundhouse. Needless to say, the next day at snack time, I became the 7-year-old heroine of the day camp.
A big part of me was embarrassed that my kids might know I backed down from a fight. At the same time, it’s probably a good thing that they don’t have to worry about seeing their mom in a Real Housewives-esque catfight with a handful of some lady’s hair extensions.
Toward the end of the concert, a strong looking woman standing behind me caught my eye. She leaned in so that I could hear her over the music. “I saw what that bitch was doing! If she did that again I was ready to hit her!” A sense of gratefulness and girl power overwhelmed me. Here was a perfect stranger—a woman!—telling me she had my back. She was practically volunteering to be the Copperhead to my Black Mamba. Together, we could fuck shit up!
My adrenaline started to pump again. It was on! But even though I’d have liked nothing better, I knew I had to slow her roll.
“It’s okay,” I told her. “I’m just here to watch the show.” She gave me a quizzical look. And then I said the sentence that required no further explanation.