That Time I (Almost) Got in a Girl Fight

The people have spoken. The people want to see blood. (And also romance. But we’ll get to that next week.)

For now, in lieu of blood, would you settle for a dislocated shoulder?

A few years ago, J convinced me that flag football was something I needed in my life. He even talked me into paying money for the “privilege” of running around a muddy field after a full day at work, grabbing for scraps of fabric dangling entirely too close to strangers’ genitalia. (And yes, I did accidentally pants somebody once.)

Our team had a few glory days. Mostly, though, we represented the rag-tag but lovable underdogs from any sports movie ever made. A few of us were good with the throwing and the catching and the running, but most of us were good at maybe 1 out of those 3 things. Maybe. And about half of us still weren’t confident about the working rules of football. *raises hand*

But there were shining moments. There was the time Eric caught an impossible touchdown, twisting toward the ball with his feet literally a centimeter over the goal line. There was the day Adam intercepted a pass and ran it all the way down the field to score while our opponents screamed at each other uselessly. Then there was the day we played a team of friendly Spanish-speakers who just assumed none of the gringos knew their language. I paid attention every time they huddled, shared their plans with my team, and we took them down with a consistent precision that alarmed them. Somehow, they never caught on that they should just start whispering. I think they accepted that we were all psychic.

By and large, though, we were not on the level of the other teams in this league. Most of them had something to prove. The bulk of the players were dude-bros who’d been on their high school team but weren’t good enough to make it onto a college bench. They radiated this bitter, frustrated intensity, and were the types to yell, “Hey, Ref! Yo, Ref, what the HELL?!” any time they disagreed with a call. And some of them – somehow – had girlfriends who played, too.

When we faced these teams, shit got real. People ended up with broken fingers, bruised noses, and a wealth of other minor injuries not represented by the phrase “no touch flag football.” The referees were supposed to keep an eye out for unnecessary roughness, but I don’t think they were paid enough to really care. And this is how I (almost) got in a girl fight.

*Snap* The ball hurtled through the air. J caught it, and was looking, looking for someone who could take a pass. As I sprinted furiously to my left, trying to get open, I spotted a dark green mountain bearing down on me and then… *BOOM*

If you’ve ever seen one of those cartoons where a character slips on a banana peel, that was what I looked like. Both my feet promptly left the ground and I think my body went fully horizontal before I slammed hard on my back. If you’re like me, the most annoying part of getting hurt is people urgently asking if you’re OK at precisely the moment when you’re gasping and can’t form words because ohmyGODmySHOULDER.

The joint was jiggling around a bit under my skin. That’s never a good sign. Neither is a fiery sensation running down your arm and into your chest. But right after the dark green mountain from the other team finished apologizing (he was actually a really nice guy, and was so upset about running into me that he kept wringing his hands), the ref approached.

“How’s she doin’?” he asked, jerking his chin in my direction. I looked him in the eyes and said, “I’m hurt. I think my shoulder’s dislocated.” He shrugged a little and replied, “You can leave the field. But you guys have the minimum number of players today, so if she’s out, the whole team’s gonna forfeit.”

Dear Reader, you know what I did.

I stood my battered self up and got back in the game.

We usually played man-to-man defense. In my case, I was covering a lanky blond with permanent duck face. As I moved to guard her, I had to support my right shoulder with my left hand, which must have tipped her off. Next thing I knew, she flew at me like an insane harpy (the ball was somewhere far across the field) and out of sheer hatefulness, she drove the heel of her hand into my injury. I sucked air, and – I swear to God – she batted her eyelashes at me. On the next play, she pulled that stunt again.

I am a rational person. Also, I was raised in the South and southern girls DO NOT stoop to physical violence. So I grabbed my friend Dierdre and whispered, “You have got to cover this bitch for me. She’s slamming my shoulder for giggles.” I walked to the other side of the field and did enough deep breathing that I stopped slicing my nails into my palms with fury.

The next play came, and what did I see but this girl barreling straight at me, even though I was nowhere near her zone. She had a nasty glint in her eyes, but I’d actually managed to get hold of the ball and I was sprinting. When someone else pulled my flag, she shouted at the ref that I’d taken a few extra steps. He said I hadn’t, and she went into a full-on tantrum, whining at top volume: “That’s so unfair!”

This is when I reached my tipping point. I am many things, but I am NOT a cheat or a liar. I called back at her, “Don’t blame it on me that you weren’t fast enough to stop me.”

Her eyebrows shot up to her hairline. “WHAT did you say?!”

“I said, maybe if you’d guarded your part of the field, that pass wouldn’t have been thrown at all. Maybe you shouldn’t be so worried about what I’m doing.”

A few seconds later, she was in my face. “What, bitch?! You wanna GO?”

I did not want to go. I had so much adrenaline coursing through me that I could barely process how we’d gotten to this point, but I definitely didn’t want to come to blows with a stranger. I also really didn’t want to tell my mother that I’d gotten provoked enough to clock some chick in public.


After her prodding my shoulder, then calling me a bad sport, I was done. There was no way I was going to stand down, and my mental state catapulted right through the pain to pump me full of handy chemicals which informed me that I was a Green Beret, a black belt ninja, and Chuck freaking Norris rolled into one. As we faced off, I knew I wouldn’t start a brawl. But if she started one, I would make her regret it.

This is the part where I either disappoint you (if you’re Samara) or reassure you (if you’re Stef). I did not fight that girl that day. Her friends got involved and pulled her away like an angry drunk at a bar. She didn’t come near me for the rest of the game (which we lost, a fact that STILL stings), and everyone drove home without punches being thrown.

Before the next week’s match, I was in the parking lot early. With a knife. Waiting to see which car she arrived in so I could slash the tires.


I didn’t do that either.

Still, if you’ve never felt the full effects of fight-or-flight hormones coursing through your body, I’ve got to say I recommend it. I wasn’t planning to hit that girl. I didn’t want to lose my cool. But in the moment, I wasn’t the tiniest bit scared. It never even crossed my mind that I wouldn’t emerge victorious. And being sure you aren’t the type to back down? That’s worth knowing. Cue Tom Petty:

Epilogue: The next day, I was in such extreme pain that J drove me to see a family doctor, who promptly referred me to the hospital for X-rays. I did have a partially dislocated shoulder, and I wore a sling for two weeks while it healed. Every time I had to tell the story of how I ended up in a sling, I got one of two reactions:

“Holy hell! You’re a badass, Jennie!”


“Jennie, I didn’t think you were capable of something like that… that doesn’t sound like you at all.”

I think my takeaway, as I approach thirty years with no actual violence* to my name, is that BOTH those things are true.

P.S. Well, I did kick J in the head once. But not on purpose. I just overestimated how high my “high kick” really was. Turns out my foot can get about 5’3″ in the air, and J is 5’8″…


68 responses to “That Time I (Almost) Got in a Girl Fight

  1. See, now, Penny says that the best way to deal with bullies is to give them the “crazy eyes” smile. The one that says “I will cut you, bitch. I got nothing to lose. How ’bout you?”

    • My face was not made to intimidate. My crazy eyes would probably make my enemy think I was about to have a stroke.

      Props to Penny, though. I like her tactics.

  2. *Liked*

    A little gridiron competition mixed with punk-ass-bitch injustice? It’s enough to get even the most-rational people worked up.

    Fun story, lady.

    • The only other time I’ve hit the point of shaking with anger was in a particularly memorable political debate.

      (If I had to repeat one of the two experiences, I’d think I’d rather dislocate another shoulder!)

  3. Hi, baby-girl-Jennie,

    This is a very fun post! You paint such a picture with your words and are so very bad-ass; it makes my ruffian biker heart proud!

    I kinda wish you had clocked that b*tch, but I get that we live in a civilized society and you just can’t go around hitting people when they piss you off. Nonetheless, part of me, a very small part, wishes you had been able to trip her and say “Oh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t see you there, sweetie.”

    But, as we’re trying to reduce Karma and not add any more to it, you did the right thing, sis. I’m proud of you. Thanks for the fun read. Hugs and kisses, Lizzy

    • Oh, Lizzy, HOW I want to ride double on your bike and let you throw us wildly around curves, hollering into the wind.

      And yeah, there’s a part of me that wishes I had decked her, too. I cannot tell a lie. …being mature is HARD.

      • Hahahaha! I love you so much, Jennie-babe. Let’s RIDE, mama! It’s the best feeling in the world. Honestly, no better feeling that surfing the wind on a big-ass bike. So, you are welcome to come out any time and tool around with me!

        As you so clearly get, mastery over the baser instincts only comes after accepting that they are there in the first place and not giving into them, such as you have so beautifully done. Love that!

        You are my inspiration, sis. In so, so many wonderful, varied, and sweet ways. Warm hugs to you!

  4. Good story, Jen! I got into a fight with another preacher’s daughter during lunch hour at school. The fight started in the classroom – she sat direction behind me and started calling me names for reasons I was and continue to be ignorant of the offence. I followed her out (we all walked home for lunch back in those ancient days) and she was walking away as fast as she could. I tried to catch up with her and grabbed her sweater to ask her what was going on. Then she got physical. Teachers broke it up.

    • It’s scary when somebody has it out for you and you don’t know why. In high school, I had a girl call me outside for a fight – she said I was spreading gossip about her – but our school was big enough that I didn’t even know her name. I talked her down in the end. Ayayay.

      (Also, looking at your sweet smile in your avatar, it’s hard for me to picture you scrapping! But I guess that’s exactly how people feel about me.)

  5. I think you made the right decision, but I would have totally stood behind you if you clocked her, because come ON, you’re going to purposely hit someone’s dislocated shoulder? 😦 She deserved to get punched for that one, just once.

    This was a great story, and as always told in the most entertaining way.

    • And this is why you are awesome. My friend Deirdre still brings that fight up and gets riled – she was conspiring with me to slash the girl’s tires, until I decided it wasn’t worth it.

      It’s really good to have people who would be proud of you for putting someone’s lights out (when called for)!

  6. Hahaha oh it took me so long to finally get here to comment! I read the first half earlier– up to where that biatch beelined for you– And was then forced to participate in some or another meeting. Ugh, the nerve.

    That’s crazy and twisted. I wonder why she fixated on you like that? I like your approach to the conflict though– you weren’t going to throw the first lunch but you’d certainly throw the last. Proud Aussa.

    • Aussa! You left me suspended in that moment all day?!

      I forgive you. Because you’re proud of me. D’aww. When I was writing, I actually wondered how you would have handled it. I know all about your ability to Liam Neeson a fool, but have you ever done a face-to-face showdown? (There’s probably a blog post about this that I need to be reading!)

      • I’m trying to think, but I’m so exhausted. I can say with certainty that I’ve never “beat anyone up,” but I HAVE literally kicked a guy in the ass to where he fell on his face. And I remember perhaps slightly harming a bully on a school bus… but most of my altercations are either behind-the-computer-subversive or they just involve me getting quietly menacing, which we like to call “Street Aussa.” There could be more stories… I’ll have to think when my brain returns.

        • Street Aussa. *shudder* I wouldn’t want to rumble with her. (Do “the kids” still say “rumble” these days?)

          I’ve also had a history of doing the subversive, sneaky take down. You don’t even know I’m onto you, and then… your partner’s mad at you, your boss is aware of your shenanigans, or you’ve been called out in public with proof of your misdeeds. (I actually think it leaves a more lasting impact than a physical blow.)

          • I don’t know what the kids say– YOLO? I totes say “rumble.” Oh and I guess I say “totes” too, though I’m pretty sure that’s embarrassingly 2012 right there.

            I agree about the lasting impact of subversive sneaky take downs, huzzah!

  7. Fantastic story. Don’t lie – there’s still nights when you can’t sleep where the thought that you REALLY wished you had one-punched her to the ground right? I have the exact same story – but mine was coed softball.

    • I cannot tell a lie. Sometimes I replay it in my head and I get her into an inescapable wrestling hold I learned from an ex in high school. Then I make her apologize before I let her up. She totally cries.

      Ahhh… softball… I played for 8 years. Another “no contact” sport that left me with lots of bruises! Who got you riled up?

      • I was the pitcher on the softball team and I was covering home on a play at the plate. Guy came in and tried to Karate Kid me (sweep the leg!). He hit me in the knee and buckled it. I writhed in pain. I wish I would have just lit into him like white on rice.

  8. You’ve got one on me – I haven’t even gotten that far into an almost-fight. I’m a coward and pacifist by nature, but I had a wonderful passive-aggressive streak in me back in the day that would have been coveted by any female tween. Oh sure I have been hit and punched, but I was too busy turtling or running away or calling for my mommy to do anything (I was a teen when I did those things…lol). Oh, I am so butch.

    Anyway, I loved this – you are wonderful at telling a tale, my friend. Got the gift. Glad you healed up to tell the story 🙂


    • See, I’ve never been punched. I have been hit completely by accident twice – one of those hits broke my nose (it was my 21st birthday, and my friend was horrified) – but long story short, I’m always amazed at how much a blow to the face hurts. I don’t think I ever want to know what it feels like when someone’s purposefully trying to wallop me. I want to go back in time and make your bullies pay. Grrrrrrr.

      • lol. I think some of those guys got put in juvie before I graduated…ha ha. Either way, that’s their thing now. Took me a LONG time to forgive those jerks (oops!) But yeah, let’s just work on ourselves 🙂

        You rock!

  9. I think you’d have been justified in “accidentally” breaking her nose when she came running up to you. But you took the high road, and for that you can always be proud of yourself. Or feel ashamed. Whichever.

    • This is my favorite comment yet. Ambivalence is a bitch. I remember the day I learned it doesn’t mean “not caring” at all… it means being utterly torn between two options. Proudshamed, if you will.

      • “Proudshamed” needs to be a thing.

        This semester I had a student write an assignment about how stupid learning writing in college is, then proceeded to prove himself wrong through the force of his argument. I was proud in the way I dismantled each part of it for him. Ashamed that I didn’t give him lower than a C-.

        But that’s not quite the same as what you were talking about.

  10. Dear sweet white baby Jesus, I laughed when I saw my name!

    My first instinct is all, “let me at her!” How dare she go for you when you were injured!

    Then, I was all like, “slash her tires, slash her tires, slash her tires!” It was such a strange reaction to what was a really strange thing to see written in this post. You shock me!

    And now – I feel like I have to write about the time I DID get into a girl fight, a real honest-to-goodness one! But why will no one be surprised?

  11. Jennie! You’re a stand-up woman. I’m not sure whether I would have been able to stop myself from completely dislocating a few of those chick’s other body parts. I have a fiery temper, and once I’m in Terminator mode there are few things that can calm me down. Maybe M&Ms.

    By the way, love the new gravatar!

    • I will keep the M&Ms in mind!

      That girl did add one more reason to my list of why I really want to learn more about martial arts and self defense… I just need the time! Too bad real life can’t include a fast-forward training montage where you’ve learned all you need to know by the end of one 80s power ballad.

    • I love how many women here wish I’d smacker her in the kisser. It really pleases me that we all have these killer instincts, and are just playing nice day to day!

  12. You’re made of tougher stuff than me. Just once, I’d like to feel that kind of adrenalin. In my dreams, I’m often trying to fight someone or something and it’s so pathetic, it’s embarrassing. You go, girl!

    • Alarna,

      When you see me in person, I am not scary at all. I’m small, and usually smiling, and generally dancing or skipping or doing something fairy-like.

      But in my mind, I want to be able to intimidate someone. I want to be able to hold my own. And I believe that in a no-holds-barred fight with someone about my size, I’m scrappy and stubborn enough to win. This is weirdly vital to my own self-image.

      I guess it comes down to this: knowing you’d bet on yourself is important, even if you never get proof. And I would bet on you. I think there’s a direct correlation between being a passionate person with a lot of soul, and being someone who’d really get down and dirty for the things they believe in. Sure, you wouldn’t clock someone for taking your parking space… but I bet you would if they were attacking person you loved.

  13. I wanted you to punch her in the middle of her face. I’d say you’re a better person than I am, but I also know that in the same situation, I probably wouldn’t, either.

    That said, I did once (okay, not attack – I responded to) a girl on a bus who was just there calling ALL the passengers all kinds of dirt, and I might’ve broken her handbag when she started on my husband. And I suggested she get off the bus with me to discuss its replacement (this when the jerkface bus driver just sat there and let his passengers take her crapola, and did NOTHING) but funnily enough she wasn’t keen. She did shut up though.

    • …I wanted to, SO badly. It really was my mom’s face floating in my mind (plus not wanting to be in any way like the guests on Jerry Springer) that held me back.

      I love your bus story. I actually think it’s more intimidating to stand up to someone with your words. In the past, I’ve sat through situations like that, wishing I were brave enough to do what you did. I think I would, now. I have said something to a mother who was strong arming her kid in Wal-Mart, I’ve told someone to ease up on their dog.

      …I like that you left a mark on this woman’s purse AND her psyche.

      • I wonder whose face would have floated in my mind, stopping me. I don’t know. I’m not often prone to violence (actually, that’s completely wrong – Husby’s face just floated in front of my mind’s eye, laughing) – – I’m not often prone to BIG violence. I do throw things and stamp my foot and smack (sometimes, though I shouldn’t) and physically I tend to be probably too often on the boisterous/aggressive mark, but I don’t know whether I’d have the courage of my own convictions to really sock it to a stranger in that way.

        But this girl on the bus. I saw the change, I saw the fear, and I was pleased with myself, even though she blustered it out.

        I’ve not yet gotten strong enough to tell a random stranger to leave off their kid, though, mostly because I feel too trapped by feelings of being the little kid, of that isolation and terror and wonder that parents are always somehow right. That strength in you is FAR stronger and more important than any physical bravado, and I applaud you.

        • Let’s all do a round of applause. (In British schools, so they do that corny thing where they make kids clap while making a literal circle in the air?)

          And to your point – the pen is mightier than the sword, adjusted slightly… “Words are stronger than blows.”

          • No we do not, I’m thankful to say! (thankful beyond words, in fact – what the heck kind of thing is that?)

            To quite Mike Love – The pen is mightier than the sword, but no match for a gun…

            Some days blows are stronger.

    • Seeing Tom Petty live in concert was one of the defining experiences of my college years. He is so ugly. He is so beautiful. He gives me all the feelings!

      • Ha he is ugly! But in a charming way… We saw him live a few years ago, and he was great. Stevie Nicks even came out and sang two songs with him, while doing her witch dancing. Good times. It’s no wonder he still sells out shows.

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