Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My Brief But Illustrious Pugilistic Career, Part One

I have only been in three-and-a-half real fights in my life. (I'll get into the half-a-fight later.) I am, if you can imagine it, a violent but non-confrontational person. I am fine with the idea of physical combat. I like the sensation one gets from hitting something, be it a heavy bag, a running back or, in the days of my youth, the occasional wall. I studied martial arts for a good long while because I wanted to get better at it, to learn it as discipline. And because I found I enjoyed discovering new ways to crush bones. Even if I never used any of it. (But it comes in handy when writing fight scenes...)

But I've never been the type of guy to leave the house seeking conflict. That doesn't play into my personality. In theory, I'm a live and let walk away kind of guy. Never once got into a bar fight. Never intentionally put myself in a position where a physical confrontation was going to be the only way out. (I've been in them, but they weren't my idea.)

All of that said, most of my fights have ended with me getting my ass kicked.

I was in fifth grade, I think. New to Shubert Elementary School in Baldwin, Long Island. My family had just moved to the suburbs from the Bronx. I can't recall exactly how I got in a fight with a sixth grader (not that it would've been an interesting tale—it's not like we were disagreeing over Carter's handling of the Hostage Crisis). But there I was, faced off against a kid who's name I can't even remember, a few feet away from the industrial-strength jungle gym, surrounded by a hundred some-odd kids who wanted to see what the new guy was made of.

The fight went very quickly. He popped me in the nose, starting a little bleed. I summoned all of my martial arts knowledge—accumulated from years of watching bad Stephen J. Cannell action dramas—and executed a spinning roundhouse kick that would've made Michael Knight proud. Of course, Michael Knight wasn't often wearing shitty Jordache sneakers and standing on a patch of loose dirt. My kick didn't make contact with my opponent, but my ass did make contact with the ground.

It's possible that I could've regained my feet and trounced my opponent...if the Elementary School Thunderdome wasn't laughing hysterically. Demoralized, with my snappy white polo shirt covered in red droplets, I slunk away. Luckily, I only lived a half-a-block from school, so I didn't have to slink far.

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