East County

While attending San Diego State University, I lived with three other guys in Spring Valley, southeast of San Diego. It wasn’t the greatest area: every other week, there’d be a stolen car sitting on the cross-street before our cul-de-sac; but our neighbors were nice, and when we planned our parties, we’d let them know, and they never called the cops. We used to go all out too; several cases of beer, jungle juice, hookah—any drug you could imagine—but my roommate Paul was an aspiring cop, so the illegal shit was kept out of sight.

Anyway, during our Halloween party (roughly one o’clock in the morning); Paul and I were walking towards the living room from the kitchen and someone stuck their leg out; tripping Paul. Bad move. Paul is a 6’3” ex-pitcher, with numerous accounts of aggressive behavior while under the influence.

So, Paul, dressed as a Hooters waitress, gets in the instigator’s face (a construction worker). The instigator is standing next to his buddy; Paul is inches away from his face; and I’m situated a couple of feet to the side of Paul, dressed as a wizard. The stereo is blasting, so I can’t hear their exchange, but I know the construction worker’s amygdala is sizzling. 

The construction worker pushes Paul, and before I see where Paul ends up, I’m on top of the guy, choking him, screaming at the top of my lungs, “Do you know whose fucking house this is?!”

I locked the choke in — we’re sprawled out on the ground, he’s squirming around, and I don’t let go. I yell again, “Do you know whose fucking house this is?!”

Eventually, a friend tells me to let him go. I stand up and the two goons are escorted out of the house. Our other roommate, Colby, arrives after it’s all over, “What’s going on? Do I need to mess someone up?”

I reply, “Nah man, it’s all good. They’re already gone.”

“Ahh shit. I was ready to hop in.”

“I know bud. Maybe next time.”

I had never felt more alive, and yet, if my friend wasn’t there to snap me out of my blind rage, I might’ve killed that punkass kid. They called me a hero for my effort, but if I killed the construction worker, what would a jury think? The line between bravery and blatant disregard for survival isn’t clear to me. People say, “A hero doesn’t think, they act.” Well, I acted, but I feel guilty as hell.

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