I hesitate to tell this story, because it involves a famous name. But it is a story worth telling – it is my account of an incident that occurred very recently, and in front of over three hundred witnesses.
The evening started out innocently enough. I had been invited to a Navy function to receive an achievement award for drawing Broadside cartoons for almost twenty-five years – a real honor for me, and much appreciated. But through a strange turn of events the night turned out to be one of the weirdest and most embarrassing moments of my life.
The event was held at a five star hotel near Pearl Harbor. The hall was spectacularly decorated, and everyone was dressed in tuxedos, evening gowns, and dinner dress uniforms. Flag officers were everywhere, and every seat was filled. The award recipients dined at a long table on stage, and right after dinner the awards ceremony began.
When my name was called, I walked to the podium and began to give a brief thank you when I was interrupted by another award recipient, a former lawyer (I’ll leave out his name). Apparently he had been drinking quite heavily. Here is a picture of him earlier in the evening – you can tell by his disheveled look that the alcohol had already taken a toll (this was taken before dinner – and before the toasts). Notice how he seems to be in a daze, bracing himself with his arm around my shoulders.
(I’m on the right)
This gentleman had served in the Navy for a few years, and apparently one of my cartoons had really upset him back when he was in uniform (to this day I still don’t know which one). The alcohol had obviously obliterated any inhibitions he had, and as I received my award he got up and strode over to the podium, grabbing the plaque.
I held on.
Then he leaned over to the microphone and said, “He doesn’t deserve this honor. He’s an (expletive).”
I was shocked (to say the least), and couldn’t think of a single thing to say. But I did have the presence of mind to hang on to the award.
It was surreal. Here, on stage in front of several Flag officers and a room full of dignitaries were two grown men playing tug of war with a plaque. It was humiliating.
Then he said something to me that I can’t even print. Maybe it was the adrenaline, maybe it was ego, maybe it was the shock of hearing such foul language coming out of the mouth of a public figure; I don’t know. But right there, right at the podium, I punched him – square in the nose. It was the only time in my life I ever punched anyone.
This is where it got ugly. He stared at me for a second, his eyes so wide that they looked like two ping pong balls sticking out of their sockets. Then he attacked me like a mad man. We hit the ground and rolled off the stage, landing on one of the circular tables. I tried to hold him down, but all the spilled beverages made him as slippery as a greased pig. He tried to take a swing at me, but I was on guard and ducked in time. At some point he managed to bite me real hard – it felt like a crocodile had ahold of my arm. When some officers finally pulled us apart, he ran past us and out of the room like a scared little rat. He may have been the goat of the night, but it ruined the evening for everyone else, especially me.
I waited for a few days for the press to sniff out the story, but amazingly, I never heard a peep. It was as if it never happened.
Postscript: Unbelievably, shortly after this event, the fellow who “Taylor Swifted” me announced that he was running for Congress. Although I hate to give this swine any publicity, I feel compelled to share it with you, if for no other reason than to prove to you that I am no fool. Here is his website: PB4Congress.com.