It was the early 1990s in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. A lazy suburb in North East Ohio made up of Cape Cod and Colonial homes. If you drove through this town, you would never know the darkness that lurked below the surface. The yards were well maintained, and people smiled at their neighbors. But, below the surface was violence. Seriously, three times a week after school, there were fights in The Falls. In fact, it was worse than the inner city Akron schools I went to before and after going to The Falls.
My group of friends were no exception. Every day, after school, these older kids would mess with John Heaton, Chuck Jones, and me. When we were Freshmen and Sophomores, these kids would drive by us, scream out the windows, and threaten to beat us up. Sometimes they would stop and get out, other days, they would just scream. But, the tension was broiling, and we knew eventually we would get into a fight these kids. Not that we wanted to, but we knew it was coming to us. We had to walk home, and there was no real way to get away from them.
It was a serious situation, and we had to come up with a solution. John and I strategized about what could be done. One of the kids really seemed inclined to fight John. I’m not sure if it was because John was the biggest one out of us, or he was just a bigger smart ass. We contemplated sneaking weapons to school, but that felt like a bad idea. We contemplated using skateboards to beat them down, but it doesn’t seem to ever work as well as people think. Finally, we came up with the face bite. We were both pretty ruthless at headlocks, but they never quite seemed to shame the other guy bad enough to truly make them leave you alone. The headlock would tire the enemy out and hurt their necks a little. It usually hurt them enough end the fight, but it never left a mark like a black eye. The headlock never seemed to break their will for long, and they always seemed to want to fight again.
And so the face bite was born.
One day on the way home, those kids drove by John, Chuck and me. They screamed out the window like normal. We screamed back. They stopped, got out, and threatened to fight us. John accepted and a fight ensued.
A short period of time later, John got him in a headlock. John had him there for a while, but didn’t seem to be employing the face bite. I wasn’t sure why he was being apprehensive, so I screamed “BITE HIS FACE!” John snapped out of his stupor and bit the living fuck out of the kid’s cheek. I’m not kidding it was like three minutes and the kid was freaking the fuck out. He could NOT get away. A headlock plus a seriously locked in cheek bite is basically impossible to get out of. The kid tried everything, but John just closed his eyes and bit harder.
I’ve never seen anything like it before or since.
Eventually, the kid was done. I mean, he was just done. His friend threatened to jump in, and I threatened to hit his friend in the head with my skateboard if he got involved since I knew it would involve entering a wrestling match on the ground. Eventually, a good bit after the kid’s spirit was broken, John let him go.
The next day at school the kid walked in with this giant, bloody, scab-like, ring on his face in the middle of purple bruises that looked like Halloween makeup. Everybody was like, “what in the holy fuck happened to your face?” You can imagine that that rumor spread all over school like wildfire. When kids would threaten to fight John or I, we would just threaten to bite their face. They’d talk shit, like “you try that shit on me, and I’ll fuck you up” but they would usually just back down. The threat of the face bite became legendary.
Also, John and I never discussed how long to hold the face bite. On that day, I learned that John was a fucking psychopath. Who bites a face for three minutes? I mean seriously. I assumed he would bite his face for like 5 seconds, freak the kid out and let go. Nope!!! 180 seconds later, he was still locked on like a Pitt Bull. I will admit though, the psychotically long hold is probably what made it so effective. Should you ever be in a bad situation, remember these rules of the face bite. Just hang on like a psycho.
To this day, as a man with a family, I always know that I can employ the combination of a headlock and a face bite on a would be perpetrator of violence. It warms my heart.