I feel it is important as a story teller to acknowledge this is only my point of view. I see the world through my eyes only, obviously, and there are always more eyes viewing the world. When I mention my reactions to other people, or more specifically, my reactions to their actions… I must also include the things I know to be true. I found out as an adult that there are things I don’t know. “Things I don’t know” have at least two distinct categories: 1) things I know I that don’t know and 2) things I don’t know that I don’t know. Quick example: I know I don’t know how to speak Spanish. However, I didn’t know my father was raising me to protect me from the things that hurt him as a child. Two very different types of unknowns.
When I ‘came to’ after being K.O.’d on the football field that day, I just wanted to go home. My friends were worried about the way I looked, in turn, causing me to worry. My equilibrium was off causing me to stagger a little when I stood up. I had taken some hits during my football career so this wasn’t alarming to me. What caused me anxiety was the reaction on my friends faces when they looked at my face. The whites of my eyes were a solid red, my lips were swollen and bleeding causing me to slur words plus one eye was starting to swell. I had my ass handed to me by this bigger kid. I was humiliated.
When I got home my mom was taking a nap on the couch. I can not explain how grateful I was that she didn’t see me first. I am my mamas baby boy. No matter how old I get, I have always been her baby boy. She always seemed to know my thoughts before they became actions. I remember wanting to see what would happen if I put a butter knife in an electrical outlet. I didn’t ask anyone first what they thought about this idea. To me the only way to find out the truth would be first hand experience. I grabbed a butter knife from our utensil drawer, and mapped out the closest electrical outlet so I could learn the results quicker. As I headed to the outlet, staring at it, my mama told me in a matter of fact kind of way, “Noo. Sticking knives in electrical outlets kill people baby.” I accepted this information as fact, had no further need for research on the matter, and put the butter knife back into its resting place. My mamas “to the point” explanation of things were a nice contrast to Dads wordy explanations.
I scurried downstairs to the bathroom to see the face that caused panic in my friends. Ironically, I thought I looked cool. I started to make faces and act out scenes from movies in the mirror. I remember thinking to myself, “if I turn off the lights and hold a flashlight under my chin I bet I would look a lot like Frankenstein!” So I headed out of the bathroom on a quest to find a flashlight … and ran right into my dad. The expression on his face was emotionless.. and we stood there for what seemed to be an hour just staring at each other.
When dad finally spoke, it became obvious to me that he had been attending moms’ classes on how to talk to me. He asked me only two questions.. 1) did you get into a fight? … my answer was yes. 2) would you like me to teach you how to fight. Again, I answered him yes. I felt relieved. My Frankenstein theory would have to wait. He told me we should go get a weight set first to start “bulking up”. I had no idea what the hell he was talking about.. but I was happy he had a plan other than moms. When mom woke from her nap she was shooting rapid fire questions at me in high pitched squeels with that “insane mom look”… everyone knows that look. Her questions made no sense to me, she was obviously still asleep: “who the fuck did that to your face?” “Where the fuck does this kid live?” “WHAT IS HIS MOTHERS NAME!!!!!!”… holy smoke, mom needed more sleep. Dad hurriedly rushed me to the car.. mumbled something to mom then said we would be home later… then grabbed his keys. As we left the house mom was still sputtering random questions to what must have been a wall. There was no one left in the house.
During the next several weeks Dad worked out an exercise schedule for me. Biceps and trapezoids one day, triceps and pectorals the next… day off.. then legs and shoulders. Days off he taught me how to punch. Twisting fists, quick withdraw, pointer and middle knuckles only. Shoot first, shoot first, shoot first!!! If someone had presented themselves as a threat… take them at their word. No need for further discussion… shoot. Over and over… week after week. By summers end I had become 5lbs heavier… and a boxing beast! It was time to test my new skills. High school was only a few weeks away… and there would be new predators there waiting on me. I was positive of this.