Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Boxing in the Floodplains, Part II

To wrap up my first day with the team, we did some bob and weave exercises, where a rope was stretched from the wall to our Coach's hand. He stood in the doorway, smoking his Lucky, while me and the boys ducked back and forth under the rope, moving towards him. We did it more times than I can count - it wasn't a big shack - and he gradually lowered the rope so that each time we had to squat lower and come back up with a jab-uppercut combo. By the last one I looked like those fake birds that bob into a cup of water. I had no legs, and Coach was not shy about telling me that, his voice sounding as if he had cotton in his throat.

After another water break, in which I begged a sip from the redhead and his dingy squirt bottle, we did situps. I could do situps, normally, but this workout was designed to break and humble me. I mean, I assumed that was the coach's plan, because somewhere back when I started hallucinating about Jimmy Carter, I realized the team - the eight-year-old included - and the coach were out to get me. They didn't like me! I wasn't one of them! That's what the work and the pain and the sweat was telling me. It made me feel other. So situps? Hard. Lots of them. Pain. No surprise there, so what came next should have been de rigeur as well. Ten one-minute intense sessions with the heavy bag. Me and Jimmy Carter were going to be old drinking buddies by the end of this day. By intense sessions I mean punching the bag as hard as we could and as fast as we could from when he said Go to when he said Stop. There would be no quitting for any of us, and the boys, I noticed, did not get the chance to rest their skinny arms. It's an exercise that required the stamina, strength and intensity like nothing else I've ever done before or since. When I think about those 10 rounds now, my pectoral muscles cringe like a beat dog.

After that, I apparently signed something that made me a member of some Amateur Boxers of America or some such thing, another paper waived any liability for damage to my internal organs, and then I wrote a check. I don't remember these things, and later when I got the cancelled check in the mail it looked like a 90-year-old woman had written it on a gravel driveway. What I remember is getting in my car and not being able to hold the steering wheel. Not being able to work the stick shift. Not being able to use the turn signal. Not being able to understand how the three boys, my teammates, were able to run around the dirt parking lot trying to squirt each other with their water bottles. One of them shouted something about going to the arcade. I was just trying to decide if I should barf on my sweatshirt next to me or out the window.

That was my first day. The next day, in fact bright and early the next morning, was painful, but it was a proud pain. It was a badge I wore all day. I was still a silly girl of privelege, but at least I had the scuffs and raw skin on my knuckles to prove I was on my way to something. What that was, I had yet to find out. Because I had not yet sparred. That, and a new kind of pain, would come two days later.

(To be continued.)


Anonymous DD said...

Great story... leaves me wanting more.

You're a glutton for punishment - eh? ; )

2/07/2007 10:09 PM  
Blogger Bimbo said...

"it looked like a 90-year-old woman had written it on a gravel driveway"

So I'm reading the story and really digging it, leaning toward the monitor and all- then I read this.


2/07/2007 10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That line got me, too.

I love this story. I'm so inspired by physical pain and endurance.

2/08/2007 7:13 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

I am lovin' this.

(Not to be confused with "I'm loving it." Which could get me sued.)

I want more!

2/08/2007 10:34 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

Did you have to do research for this one? I'd like to know more about where your idea came from.

Oh and I'm with Tink, I'm loving it.

2/08/2007 5:05 PM  
Blogger mamatulip said...

This is so real, so raw, so fantastic that I'm wondering if this is a true story, or something you've created. Because honestly, your writing is so damn good that right now I can't tell which is which.

2/09/2007 12:31 PM  
Anonymous Ortizzle said...

Ditto on the "90-year-old woman writing on a gravel driveway." It is all good, though.

Mignon, you are a bag of surprises. Looking forward to more fast punches. :-)

(Sorry I've not been around for a while. I am slowly catching up on my blog comments.)

2/09/2007 6:23 PM  

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