Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gentlemen's Club 3

Alright, so I drive over to the place where the fight between Kevin and me is supposed to happen. I have no idea if the equipment was supposed to be provided or not, so I bought actual boxing shorts and borrowed gloves from a friend of mine. As I walk into the place, I think to myself that Rich’s Gym looks more like a run down saloon than an actual place to work out. As soon as I open the door, a hush goes across the room, and the bartender’s hand slips. A bookie wearing a banker’s visor is continuing to take up bets and his cigar drops out of his mouth when he sees me. I walk over and get a better view of the crowd. I realize that I can’t see a single one who’s under the age of 65.

“What’s with all this smoke, people?” I shout. “Haven’t you heard of the smoking ordinance that makes bars in this area smoke free?”

The bartender looks up and says with a scowl, “Young man, this bar will remain smoke-friendly as long as I stand for it! [collapses on floor] MY KNEE! OW!”

Me: “Has anyone seen Kevin? Or Bob or Dan?”

Three shadowy figures in the corner slowly rise to their feet. Kevin is in the center and calls out to me, “Ah, so the young lily-livered snake in the grass comes to see me! Bulked up your courage have you? Well, you better watch yourself out on that ring sonny, or it’s my fist you’ll be meeting!”

He, Bob, and Dan join in for a chorus of raspy laughs.

Me: “Listen, old man, you better @#@$!#%* or I’ll kick the ##%%#!”
Kevin: [clutching his heart] “Oh my Lord! I haven’t heard words like that since I’ve been in the Navy!”

Me: “I thought you were trying to trash talk me.”

Kevin: “I was young man! But that was uncalled for. Why in my day, when we wanted to give each other a trash talking, we’d wait turns like gentlemen and remind each other when we’d already used an insult!”

Me: “Kevin, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Kevin, Bob, Dan: “Hmph! Kids!”

Me: “Anyway, are you fellas ready to get this thing started? Where are the locker rooms?”

Kevin: “They’re just in the back, to the left and you’re at the end.”

I walk off and enter the locker room. It reminds me somewhat of a pamphlet I received with my apartment that showed pictures of dangerous mold growing in various places…as matter of fact, even the mirror was chipped the exact same way in the pamphlet as it was in this locker room. Oh well. I change into my clothes, do crunches, pushups, and flexed arm hangs with the pull up bar towards the front. I feel tight, relaxed, and ready, even though I know I’m going to throw the fight. A knock on the door snaps my attention and I amble over and open it. A 4’ old lady walks in with glasses magnifying her eyes and runs into my stomach. “Oh my,” she cries with a crinkly voice, “a giant!”

Me: “Heh, not quite, what can I do you for?

Her: “Well, young man, I’m Kevin’s wife, Martha. And I just wanted to remind you…”

Me: “Yes, I remember, ma’am. The third round I go down.”

Martha: “Yes, well that’s not all I came here for. I brought you some homemade cookies!”

Me: “Oh, gee, thanks [I eat one] Oh wow, it’s got those peanut butter things inside them!”

Martha: “Yes, that’s how my Kevin likes them. Ooooh, he didn’t mention how handsome or muscular you were!”

And at that moment I realized that my shirt was off, that my shorts were hiking up, and that this lady was looking at me with a slight smile on her face and a twinkle in those milky, rheumy eyes. I could feel my face flush as I jabbered, “Oh, heh heh, yes, well, thank you” and smile with peanut butter chips all over my teeth.

Martha: “Oooh! That smile! You remind me of a young Teddy Roosevelt charging up the San Juan Hill!”

Me: “Excuse me?!”

Martha: “Now, I won’t accept payment of any kind for those cookies…except for perhaps a kiss!”

Me: “Oh, ummm, gee, I…”

Martha: “Well, if you’re going to be shy, then I sure won’t!” and with that she charged over and proceeded to plant a wet one on my two lips. Kevin, Bob, and Dan barged into my room with Kevin crying, “Alright, whippersnapper, it’s time to give you a…MARTHA!” and with that shout I realized that Kevin had seen Martha giving me a wet kiss.

Martha, with a red face turned to Kevin and said, “Kevin, now listen, I can explain…”

Kevin’s face was a brilliant display of colors: first it went from a cream color, then to puce, then to a sickly saffron shade.

Kevin: “No, no. You don’t have to explain. I understand everything that just happened right now. This young hooligan was cavorting with my precious little buttercup!”

Me: “Woah, woah, hold on. There’s no way I’d cavort with your little butterc-WIFE, I mean wife!”

Martha begins to cry.

Kevin: “And now you’ve made her cry! This time, boy, I’m fighting for my honor and hers! When we get to the ring, you can fully expect me to put your bread in the basket and put jam on your buns!”

And with that he slammed the door shut and went out with all the others. I had no idea what just happened in the last minute; it was really all too much. Apart from me being compared to a dead president and then to various foodstuffs, I gave up and shrugged my shoulders. I’d still throw the fight and get the money, and Kevin and Martha would still be together. Everything would be fine, and after the fight, Kevin and I would still be friends. I was sure of it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t exactly plan on Bob and Dan factoring into the picture:

When Kevin got back in the locker room with Bob and Dan, Kevin lit up a stogie and started puffing away. His face was still slightly off color and he had a furnace for eyes.

Bob and Dan started whispering in the corner with each other:

Dan: “Bob, how much money did you put on Kevin for winning the fight?”

Bob: “A fortune! I put down 10 whole dollars!”

Dan: “Yeah, I put down $20. Now that’s a lot of money!”

Bob: “You’re darn tootin’!”

Dan: “And I frankly don’t want to lose that money. I thought Kevin still had it, but boy! Did you see that kid! His shoulders were massive, he had a huge chest, and his arms? Built like pipes!”

Bob: “He kind of looked like Teddy Roosevelt without the glasses, goofy grin, and mustache!”

Dan: “My thoughts exactly, now, whatever happened to those tire weights you had in the trunk of your sedan?”

Bob: “You mean we…?”

Dan: “The odds for this match are 1:150 for Kevin. Do you realize how much money we could make if we gave Kevin a little help?”

Bob: “Alright, I’ll go get the weights.”

Kevin notices that Bob’s leaving and says to Dan, “Where’s he going?”

Bob: “He’s just going to get a pick-me-up for you. Now Kevin, how’s your right hook?”

Kevin: “Strong as ever!”

Dan: “Alright, good, good…[smiles] Say, don’t you think you should quit smoking?”

Kevin: “I’ll quit when I’m good and ready! Smoking never did me any harm at all! Why I have half a m-“

Dan: “I mean the match is about to start! Now here’s Bob, let’s get your gloves on.”

Kevin: “Oh, alright, ok. [puts on gloves] Jiminy Hopscotch! These things are heavier than I remember!”

Dan and Bob: “Oh, um, uhhh”

Kevin: “The better to pummel that rapscallion with, I guess, eh boys? Alright, let’s go and put the gravy on the giblets!”

I mosey on over to the ring wearing a robe and get weighed in by some old timers. “175!” hawks one of them. “Alright, time to get Kevin up here!”

Kevin approaches the scales, casts off his robes and reveals all his droopy glory: “88 pounds!” “88 pounds of teaching from the school of hard knocks!”

I have to laugh into my glove.

As we get into the ring, I take in the seats. All of them are filled with old men holding betting receipts and sporting bifocals.

The referee gets up into the ring and runs into me and then Kevin. I quickly realize that he can’t see once he grabs us by the ears, leads us to the middle of the ring and tries to get me and Kevin to shake hands by lifting my foot up on Kevin’s chest.

Kevin: “Hm, things sure have changed. In my day we used to shake hands like gentlemen before we attempted to pummel the life out of one another.”

Me: “I don’t think this guy can see.”

Kevin: “Well, I can see that you leatherneck!”

Referee: [beckons us closer and mumbles] Ahum awhoo flubba hah, hmm? [turns to the crowd, shouts] HIGHT!”

Me: “Excuse me, sir, I couldn’t understand what you were saying. Don’t we get rules for boxing or something? I’m new at this and-“

And at that moment, I felt something explode into my jaw as Kevin connected with his right leather glove. I get up, more than a little dazed, and stare at Kevin with wide eyes.

Kevin does nothing but grin like an imp and yell, “Hah! You done messed around with my woman and now I’m going to mess around with your face!”

I mutter to myself while putting up my gloves: “I think that’s the gayest thing I’ve ever heard.”

The rest of the round is spent with me running circles around Kevin while the crowd yells advice to me: “The ol’ one-two! Give ‘em the ol’ one-two!” “Those shorts are too long! You’re going to trip!” “Someone untangle the referee from the ropes!”

As I dodge Kevin’s fists, the bell rings and I go over to my corner. I drink my water and watch Kevin drink a pint of dark beer. I sigh as I watch the referee bounce from rope to rope and corner to corner with all the expediency of a Seeing Eye dog that happens to be blind until he manages to find the bell. The bell rings.

I rise from my stool, and feel my jaw for the first time as it slowly swells. I move to the center and wait for the bell to ring again. Kevin’s a half second late after the bell, and I point this out to him by swiping him with my glove.

Kevin: “Hey! You’re fighting dirty!”

Me: “No I’m not! The bell just rang!”

Kevin: “No it didn’t! I didn’t hear it! Let’s just stand and wait until it rings again, then I’ll know for certain that it’s time to fight.”

Me: “Alright, sure, whatever.”

Kevin and I stand there, shuffling our feet, and looking around.

Kevin: “I’ve got to hand it to you, son. You’re a pretty good boxer. I know we didn’t have the opportunity earlier but I want to shake your hand.”

Me: “Oh, well, I’m kind of touched, Kevin [I take off my glove and go over to Kevin] I’ve got to say-“

Kevin gives me a right hook and sends me to the mat.

Kevin: “Hah! You think I’d let you off that easy? You were trying to find a new baby with my wife! If you can’t pay the time, then don’t do the crime! Heeheehee!”

Me: “Ugggghhhh”

Kevin goes over and grabs the referee, directing him to the bell and ringing it while I lay there on the mat and watch the ceiling go whizzing by.

Referee: [into mike] “A HOOAH!”

I’m helped off into my locker room and sit down. My brain feels a little fuzzy and someone hands me a bag of ice to put on my swollen jaw. Martha walks into the room and gives me the money in a paper bag.

Me: “Gee, $20. Thanks. That’s about an hour’s worth of work for me that’s free of octogenarians attempting to kill me and swollen jaws.”

Martha: “Now, now young man, it’ll pass.”

Kevin barges in and yells, “Alright, young man! Now do you believe me? MARTHA! What’s he doing this time to you?”

Martha: “Oh, Kevin, he’s not doing anything. He’s too sweet. I was kissing him first that time when you saw us since he complimented me on my dress!”

Kevin: “Oh. Well, you should’ve said something about it. No hard feelings, son.”

And with that, Kevin and Martha strode out the door, but not after something dropped from the gloves Kevin was carrying. I got up and peered at the grayish bar.

Me: “Tire weights? What was he doing with tire weights in his gloves?”

I then realize why his punches packed some much prodigious power.

Me: “Awww! I got gypped!”

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