Spiral Out of Control, But Be Nice

Lighthouse’s Spiral Staircase

People who really want to have a good time won’t come to a slaughterhouse. And we’ve got entirely too many troublemakers here. Too many 40-year-old adolescents, felons, power drinkers and trustees of modern chemistry. – Dalton, “Roadhouse”

I had my own Aurora, CO moment some 23 years ago. It was a week night. I can remember that much. Anyway, it was May of 1989. I left at home Anne with our two small sons, four and two. I drove the half-mile to the Esquire Theater to see “Roadhouse”, starring Patrick Swayze.

All you have to do is follow three simple rules. One, never underestimate your opponent. Expect the unexpected. Two, take it outside. Never start anything inside […] unless it’s absolutely necessary. And three, be nice. – Dalton, “Roadhouse”

In this movie Swayze plays the pro-bouncer Dalton. He’s been called into this small Kansas town to clean up a bar, the roadhouse. Arrayed against him is Ben Gazzara, the evil crime boss and his minions. The interspersed dialog is Dalton’s introductory speech to the roadhouse’s staff.

If somebody gets in your face and calls you a c***sucker, I want you to be nice. Ask him to walk. Be nice. If he won’t walk, walk him. But be nice. If you can’t walk him, one of the others will help you, and you’ll both be nice. I want you to remember that it’s a job. It’s nothing personal. – Dalton, “Roadhouse”

This was your typical action flick, with the exception that most of the fighting was hand-to-hand, there was little if any gun play. That’s not to say that people weren’t killed, more than a few were. By the end of the movie the bad guys had been vanquished, the roadhouse was presentable and Dalton had the girl. Was there anything else? Oh yeah, the credits.

I want you to be nice until it’s time to not be nice. – Dalton, “Roadhouse”

I don’t know why I stayed for the credit, I seldom do, ask Joanie. This time I did though. I stayed until the trademarks and exited the now empty theater. I exited to a parking lot filled with police and their flashing lights. There had been a gunfight. Gang, domestic or what, I never did learn. There were no wounded or bodies left at the scene. I made my way to my car and observed a bullet hole in the trunk of the car parked next to mine. I drove home and by relating this story to my wife put the fear of the Lord into her. I scanned the paper for days, but never found any mention of this incident. How nice. Shortly after this incident the Esquire began to hire off-duty policemen as armed guards for their theater.