Friday, April 8, 2011

The Donnybrooks Of Yesteryear

How nostalgic I am for the fisticuffs of my misspent youth! My first opponent is now a sports doctor in Florida, but I socked him hollow at the age of eight. Curiously, even though I won the bout, he won the prize - I knocked out one of his baby teeth, and his mother left a quarter under his pillow. Needless to say, that restored our friendship. My battles would never be so friendly again. I had two fights in junior high school that were like duels. In one of them, we even had seconds. The fattest kid in seventh grade and I (who was pretty plump then too) lumbered into the woods to throw missed punches at each other like a pair of bipedal elephants, until our seconds led us away. In eighth grade, I rabbit-punched a skinny kid after he thumped a basketball into my gut and, again, it was into the woods. I'd hurt my foot in gym and could barely move, managing to hit him just once on the butt as he flew around me like a puglistic hummingbird. In ninth grade, I nurtured a mean right hook. I hit three kids that year - one in the lunchroom, another in the corridor between the freshman building and the main building (my math teacher caught me and the moron held me over for detention), and then once more, in mechanical drawing class. The teacher, Monkey Maguire, was a crew-cutted and insanely strict ex-Marine who liked to show Vietnam War documentaries as end-of-the-term treats. It was like he thought we were re-designing the M-16 or something. Anyway, there was one kid who used to come up behind guys while they scratched and smudged their way through their assignments, and hock up some phlegm like he was about to spit. Then he moved on to someone else. I was waiting for him. As soon as I heard him breathe in behind me, I whacked the fucker hard in the throat with the back of my left hand. Without even looking. That stopped him cold. After class, he moaned, "You can't go around hitting people..." Boo-hoo. In tenth grade, I whacked a kid in gym. In eleventh grade, I walloped another joker in the freakin' locker room. Regrettably, this dude was a jock, so after a brief stunned moment as he rubbed his jaw, he pummeled me back a little bit to keep his pride. He was tan and sleek then, the fuck, but I saw him at my sister's graduation three years later and he already had a paunch at the age of twenty. Then onto college. I got to slug smart people there. One twitchy little guy with a dingus the size of a mushroom, whose claim to fame was that he once had the highest IQ in the Des Moines school system, was jonesin' me about my (supposed) Irish Curse, and I silenced him with a Phallic Phist of Man Meat. A chain smoker back in the day, he is now a fancy attorney whose specialty is hauling tobacco industry whistle blowers into court. Then there was the 140 IQ ex-jock pre-med with reflexes so cretinously slow that I could dance around him with roiling fists, scoring coups while he barely laid a hand on me. Finally, there was the 160 IQ academic screw-up and genius amateur sound system engineer who strode about, blond-haired and Nazi-like, preaching the virtues of Republicanism on the fourth floor of Richman Hall. We tussled too. He got a wrestle hold on me, but I kept crepitating his skull with my iron knuckles until he let me go. The lump I gave him made him look as swell-headed for once as he actually was. Then there were the barroom louts. One bartender belabored me with the intelligence that his ancestors were Antrim land-owners who "kept the Irish as slaves", whereupon I spat a mouthful of ice cubes at him, he jumped over the bar, and we pranced about in grapple-mode till his buddies pitched in, pulled us apart, and kicked me out. I tried the same manuever with some other drooling imbecile at a bar called Muldoon's in Providence. I was reading a Stanley Elkin book and he kept spitting at my head until I got fed up, complained to the barmaid, then lost my patience and rose up like fuckin' Moby Dick and said... sort of like... "bad things", very loudly. I did not know at that time that he was a bouncer, and therefore an employee of the bar. I tried to hold the guy back, he was so fat and so slow, but he got the better of me anyway and broke my nose. I came away with a two-inch wide stripe of blood down the front of my ivory sweater and a nose that clicked at the bridge every time I tried to wobble it for at least a decade afterward. Oh, yes, I've had my donnybrooks...

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