Armstrong & Cox
Gunner Armstrong shakes his head, and digs into his backpack to retrieve a freshly purchased bottle of pepper spray. “I don’t know how effective this stuff is,” he mumbles, pulling on his reading glasses and skimming the directions. “I had a friend in college who would get a couple of beers in him and squirt it in his mouth like it was breath freshener.”
Like many manly men today, Armstrong lives in abject terror. “You never can be too careful with women being what they are,” he says, expressing an increasingly common, and deeply masculine sentiment. At least twice a week Armstrong says he finds himself walking a block or more past his house, keys clenched firmly in his fist like claws, because he’s convinced a woman is following him home, possibly to accuse him of harassment. “At some point I’ll find a nice bright street light and stop there to pretend like I'm taking a phone call or something. I'll just let them walk on past, you know?” Armstrong says. “It’s probably all in my imagination. But like dad always said: better safe than hungover and accused of some bullshit you totally don’t remember doing.”
Personal security coach Archer Cox doesn’t think Armstrong’s taking the threat seriously enough. “If you’re not wearing a body cam and packing a taser, you’re not prepared for this fight,” he says. “Look, Gunner’s my bud and I used to be just like him. I took some self defense classes. Got my yellow belt. Got to where I’d take alternative routes home from the bar to avoid running into any of those lady joggers who were always making comments about how I shouldn’t be looking them. Saying things to me. Hurtful things. But none of those things I did to protect myself stopped this one woman from calling me a ‘peeper’ on Facebook, all because I was awesome and surprised her at her window one morning with a egg and sausage plate from down at the Touch & Go.”
Armstrong has a theory. “I’ve heard this is all a kind of revenge because they don’t make as much money as we do. And if things keep going this way I don’t think they ever will,” he says, opening the front door of MacBoobies, a Scottish-themed watering hole in Midtown where Armstrong is having drinks with Cox, and some other friends from work. “It’s gotten to where just having a penis paints a target on your back, it’s practically against the law,” he says, visibly agitated and determined to get hammered.
After several rounds of beer the men settle into playing a drinking game called Devil’s Triangle. “It’s kinda like quarters,” Cox explains. “Only if you cuss at any time you have to call your mother on speaker phone and apologize for being a naughty boy with a dirty, dirty mouth.” A waitress named Tina, who’s been cut from her shift politely intervenes and attempts to close out the table’s check.
“Did you want to put the tip on your card?” she asks.
“Oh, don’t worry sweetie, I’ve got a tip for you right here,” Cox quips, causing everybody at the table to laugh except for Tina, who rolls her eyes and walks away sans gratuity.
“Gonna stumble home now,” Armstrong says, pulling out his pepper spray, and screwing up his courage.
“I’ll walk with you,” Cox answers, holding onto Armstrong’s shoulder to keep from falling down. “I don’t want to be alone right now.”
If there is a war in America's streets, these two old friends are determined to face the worst of it together. "I've got you," Armstrong says.
"And I've got you, babe," Cox answers. "I've got you."
*Yes, there is a parody tab at the top of the column.