It was March of 1978, early in my second term at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach and my family had come down to visit me. Along with my younger sister, her friend from high school and my roommate we all went to this theater in South Daytona to see “Saturday Night Fever.” We got there and the theater manager demanded to see our I.D. because it was an “R” rated movie. At that moment I discovered that I’d left my wallet in my dorm room. He would not let us in because I could not prove that I was 18… of course I was actually 20. 

Okay fine- we drive all the way back to the dorm, I get my wallet and we drove back to the theater and I showed the guy that I am in fact 20 years old. Now he refuses to let us in because, “the feature began four minutes ago and I do not want to disturb the audience.”

Okay, now I’m pissed because this guy is just being an asshole. An argument begins with me telling him straight up that he’s being an asshole. Finally he turns to his ticket girl and says, “Mary,” or whatever he name was, “call South Daytona Police.”

Now I cool down a little and say, “Okay… let’s just discuss this in a business-like manner.” With that he reaches across his candy counter and shoves me on the shoulder while brat-shouting “NO!” Yep… there I am in my hockey jacket with the patches of four different leagues on it and he decides to put his hand on me. NOT a good move.

I looked at the little ticket girl and calmly said, “Mary, call South Daytona Police,” and over the counter I went!

What I did not know was that this guy was such an asshole that he caused a confrontation nearly every night and then called the cops. As a result, the SDPD were parked in a two-man car just out front of the theater. Thus, in a matter of minutes two officers came through the door and found me stuffing that jerk’s head into the popcorn machine while my sister looked on like, “There he goes again” and my roommate looked on in shock along with my sister’s friend.

I’ll never forget the cop pulling me off of that jerk and as the asshole lifted his head there was a piece of popcorn lodged behind his ear.

“I want him arrested for assault and battery!” the asshole demanded to the cop as he pointed at me.

“NO WAY!” I demanded pointing back, “It’s mutual combat! He touched me first! He’s got no business putting his hand on me!”

The officer looked at the little ticket girls and asked, “Is that right? Did he touch him first?”

The girl nodded “yes” and I snarled, “Right and maybe they’ll put us both in the same holding cell and I can finish you off!”

With that the two officers separated us by a wide distance and one took the asshole’s story while his partner took my story. Then both officers met talked briefly and my officer returned and asked if I wanted to file a complaint ? I said if the jerk files I’ll file. He said that they were clearly informing the manager that he is lucky that I did not retaliate much more violently and he could easily go to jail tonight if I wished to send him there. I said that all I wanted to do was see a movie. The officers met again and then my officer returned.

“I wanna tell you,” he said, “don’t ever do something like this again. Having said that I have to tell you that we get so much trouble from that guy that my partner and I have always wished to come through those doors and find someone doin’ that to him. You just made our whole month.”

Then he explained that I could write to the theater chain’s office and complain and that my friends and I could come back the next evening and the manager has been warned not to hassle us in any manner. We came back the next night and saw the movie… of course I had to order popcorn.

That night I decided that I needed to put that hockey player in me away if I was going to be a professional aviator and I pretty much did that. Of course my wife would likely dispute that, but I think it’s true. I do, however, give myself two Hansons for that head in the popcorn machine thing.

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