Sunday 04 Dec 2016

A Little Boxing
AJ Robinson

Sports have brought fathers and sons together for years. Just consider at baseball, basketball, hockey and so forth. Sometimes they've been spectators, and sometimes they actually played; it's all about male bonding, right? For my dad and me it was boxing, which was quite odd. Neither of us cared for the boxing. I doubt I could name half a dozen heavyweight champions, other than Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson.

Yet, every once in a while, we'd go to the front entryway of our house on Jason Street, and have a little boxing match. Just inside the front door, there sat a little two-drawer cabinet; we kept our winter gloves and mittens there. Looking back, I remember that we had the hardest time finding two matching gloves, kind of like the old missing sock routine from a dryer! Eventually, we'd find two pairs of gloves or at least two that were close enough.

After slipping them on, we'd move to our respective "corners." Mine was the bottom of the stairs - on the opposite side of the door from the cabinet. As I was five, six or seven years old, the steps were perfect for me to sit on. Dad would go to the other side of the room, at the entrance to the hall that led to the back of the house: the kitchen and dining room.

Then, he'd "ring the bell" and we'd go at it! He was always so careful about "punching" me - never too hard. As for me, I don't really know how hard I hit. After all, when you're trying to remember your actions through the mist of time, you can never be sure as to how accurate they are. What was a huge bedroom back then can turn out to be quite small. A giant lake might be a small pond; throwing "powerful" punches could have been nothing much at all. The full strength of a five-year-old probably isn't enough to knock the wind out of an adult, it's probably barely enough feel.

Yet, my dad would grunt and groan as if I was Mike Tyson pummeling him. He'd even call out the punch: belly-buster, haymaker, kidney punch, uppercut. I didn't understand any of it, but I loved hearing what a good boxer I was! I mean, wow, I could do all those things? Finally, he'd ring the bell again, end of round one, and we went to our corners.

We'd repeat the process several times. Me swinging wildly and getting more and more tired, until, finally, we'd collapse in a heap in the center of the room. Laughing and giggling, usually due to my dad tickling me, we'd roll around for a few minutes, and then declare the "fight" over.

Over the years, we had quite a few boxing matches; they are one of the brightest memories that still linger in the depths of my mind. These days, I imagine people would frown on such "violence," we're supposed to be far more enlightened. Me, I thought it was tons of fun and it sure wore me out, something I'm sure plenty of today's parents would appreciate.

Funny thing is - I don't recall who won any of those boxing matches. You know what, that's not what was important about them!

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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