Ten Things I’ve Learned About Walking into a Bucket of Blood in a Strange Town (and Getting Out Alive)

“This is why pirates wore eyepatches. You want some night vision as soon as you get in there.”

Bucket of Blood: Old Western slang for a notoriously violent bar or saloon. Still occasionally used in modern times. —UrbanDictionary.com

Bucket of Blood: The kind of bar that has sawdust and vomit on the floor,  if you bring your own sawdust.—- John Howard

  1. Walking across the parking lot, close one eye. This is why pirates wore eyepatches. You want some night vision as soon as you get in there. If you can, pause just outside the door with both eyes closed for a bit.
  2. Scope the exits immediately.
  3. Dress non-descriptively. If things go south, don’t make it easy for the cops to put out a description: “Neon bike shorts and a cutoff Save The Whales shirt.”
  4. Piss now. The men’s room is a choke point and ambush site. Figure out how bad it is right away. Can the stall doors be kicked in or out as a sneak attack? Is there a mop you can break the handle off of and use as a weapon?
  5. Stay away from the games for a while. Challenging the pool table right away is too aggressive.
  6. Drink like the locals. If it is a bump and a beer joint, go with the flow. Nobody cares about your knowledge of esoteric vodkas; actually they do care and it gives them a pain in the ass.
  7. Tip the bartender appropriately. He’ll resent it if you try to buy his attention for the rest of the night right away and give you a soapy glass if you suggest you’ll get him next time.
  8. Stay away from the juke box for a while longer. Nobody cares about your taste in music.
  9. Stay away from the former Home Coming Queen, period. If she’s still in town there’s a pretty good chance she is with someone or has recently broken up him. If he isn’t there, some of his friends are.
  10. Just leave when you leave. If there are guys planning on jack rolling you, don’t give them time to execute their grand scheme.


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Image credit: GollyGforce/Flickr

About J. A. Drew Diaz

"I’m a guy ... I’m a guy you want around when the ship runs aground, the garage catches fire, a fight breaks out, if your dog is full of porcupine quills. If there’s a raccoon crazed  on rat bait in your garage I’m the guy you want next door. I make my living with a cell phone and a computer---and in my garage I have tools for making tools. Every vehicle I have ever owned has a punctured seat because I jumped in with a tool in my pocket. My raw feed appears at standup2p.wordpress.com.


  1. Francis Sapienza says:

    “This is why pirates wore eyepatches.” – This statement is not true. The eyepatch had to do with navigation and nothing to do with night vision, protection or anything else. It was a briefly used accessory (due to reasons that will be clear shortly) and has remained a vestige of lore for strictly dramatic purposes.

    In and around the 1500’s, eyepatches were worn by ships’ navigators. The reason was to approximate location by way of the heavens. Longitude is easily determined by use of the stars, latitude however, requires observation of the Sun. The gnomon was used previously, which is not unlike a sundial with measurements meant for location rather than time. Due to ships’ pitch, roll and yaw on the seas, this device was difficult to read, as it was based on a shadow from the sun. It was replaced by the cross-staff.

    Unfortunately, using a cross-staff required to user to look directly at the sun to get a measurement, later translated to a latitudinal measurement. This activity caused blindness for the user over long periods. So, navigators began wearing eyepatches so that they would only go blind in one eye, rather than both.

    These devices were replaced with devices that avoided the pitfall of ocular damage (back-staff, sextant) and were phased out eventually. However, the stereotype of the patch-wearing pirate remained for esthetic/story purposes. No night vision here, just navigation.

    Sorry Mr. Diaz, but you kinda asked for it. The other statements were okay I guess, but we should all avoid publishing misinformation.

    • I’ll tell you what Francis-
      I’m speaking from experience, not google.
      I’ve had killers try to kill me and I’m still here

      • Francis Sapienza says:

        Haha, I’ve known about eyepatches and their use for as long as I’ve known why the sky is blue, long before Google. Also, that sort of deflection does not make your statement any more correct. It’s still nonsense.

  2. @jameseq- by definition I’d take violence as a given

  3. nice tips diaz,
    id add, to watch for signs youre going to be attacked, or they are plotting to. most people cant conceal that, usually the body language or eyes, of one or more in the group will give away their intent

  4. Gabriel Orgrease says:

    It helps to be a regular, but not so easy in a strange town.

  5. Joanna Schroeder says:

    Drew, this is the funniest thing you’ve ever written!!


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