Tag Archives: fighting

Kid! Just.Stay.Down.

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They look nothing like the characters in this memory.

For some reason today, I remembered a fight I witnessed when I was a freshman in high school. It was over some real or imagined affront to one of the guys’ honor and — most likely — a girl had something to do with it somewhere because they pretty much always did. I know I heard girls complain time after time about their “hotheaded” boyfriends always wanting to fight over them. They talked like it was the most embarrassing thing in the world, but the funny thing is, the Lady Fair was always present in the rustic berfois whenever her Shining Knight was tilting in the lists. Even funnier is how often the loser in the fight would lose his girl as well. Milady doth protest too much over the bloodletting, but she isn’t likely to stay with someone incapable of defending her honor either. It’s natural selection at its finest.

But I digress.

I ended up at this fight because my ride home was going to the melee. Apparently,  the “challenge a la guerre” took place between classes or at lunch or some such. In any event, fighting on school property — while it did happen — would end in a lengthy suspension for a first offense and a recommendation for expulsion thereafter so unless someone blatantly spit in your face or proclaimed loudly and profanely that your mother was something less than pure as the driven snow and a saint among women, fights happened at “The Rocks” at 3:30 after school.

The Rocks was a sandy beach beside the Little River less than a mile from the school down Raider Road. It took its name from the shoals created by — duh — rocks and the flattened, worn boulders dotting the beach. It provided good footing, was spacious enough to accommodate a pair of pugilists or a group of warriors, and had ample viewpoints to watch the fight and watch for the local constabulary.

Close, but a few more big rocks and a little smaller stream.

These affairs were always “straight up” as well. I think my generation was the last one to settle fights solely with the weapons God gave us. I knew several boys carried knives — I myself was seldom without my stainless steel butterfly blade, even at school — and more than one — of which number I would be included during my train wreck of a senior year — carried guns in the glove box of their cars. Despite such an weaponry, no one I knew from any group in the school would have pulled a knife in a simple dispute like this. His own friends would turn on him in a second for such an egregious breach of longstanding tradition. Against a rival school or in a clearly delineated gang fight, you took your chances of getting butchered or shot, but not while “settling scores” at The Rocks after school.

In one corner was a junior I didn’t particularly care for. His face was too handsome by half and when he took his shirt over his head he revealed sculpted muscles my pasty white doughboy belly would never see. This guy could throw down though. Fighting came as naturally to him as his stylishly tousled blonde hair. He wasn’t the biggest guy in the school by a long margin, but he was big enough. I sure as hell wouldn’t have wanted to have a go at him. I don’t consider myself a coward and I have enough scars to prove it, but I also adhere strictly to the Kenny Rogers dictum that one must, “Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em; know when to walk away and know when to run.” After all, a wise man said discretion is the better part of valor.

The other fighter was a sophomore. He had moved in to the area in his freshman year. I didn’t know his name, but I’d seen him in the halls. He was an inch or two shorter than Adonis and seemed reasonably fit. Standing with a couple of his clique, he didn’t seem too anxious to participate in this barbarism, and I figured none of this was his idea. Unfortunately, school’s like prison — you back down when someone calls you out, you set yourself up for endless bullying and torture.

At least they avoided this crap.

This wasn’t Madison Square Garden and no one standing around the circle — except me — could have told you who the Marquis de Queensbury was. To their credit, they dispensed with the usual circling shoulder to shoulder and trash talking. The kid just walked up to Adonis and tossed out a right hook that grazed the sculpted perfect chin. That was the first and last blow the kid landed. Adonis gave with the punch and came back with a straight left hand to the kid’s nose that started blood flowing and sent the kids sprawling flat onto his back.

At that point, the fight could have been over. Honor was satisfied, at least to all of us. Apparently, the kid had other ideas. He slowly stood up and waded back in, launching a haymaker right that whiffed miserably. Adonis popped him with a right – left combination and the kid was down again with the beginnings of a beautiful shiner on his left eye. Again, this is over, right? No. The kid staggers to his feet again and goes right back at Adonis and receives a matching contusion over his right eye for his trouble. This time, Adonis strode over and when the kid got to his knees, Adonis anchored him flat again with a huge right and turned to walk away. The kid somehow got up again and lunged at Adonis, grabbing the older boy around the waist. Adonis spun out easily and — once again — put the kid face down with a hard punch.

Looked a lot like this . . . a WHOLE lot like this.

Now this was getting awkward. This kid wasn’t going to stay down even though he had absolutely no chance of winning or even hitting his antagonist. Any of the rest of us would have taken our ass-whipping and called it a day, thank you very much, but this guy just kept coming. Three more times he got up and three more times Adonis leveled him. It was just like the boxing scene from Cool Hand Luke except these guys weren’t wearing any gloves. I know Adonis wasn’t holding anything back, but this kid just kept getting up. He looked like, well, he looked like someone who ran into a buzz saw, but he would not quit. I saw him get plastered twice more before Scott tapped me on the shoulder and shrugged his head towards the car. A few other people left around the same time.

I heard the next day at school that Adonis finally knocked him down then knelt beside him and put his hand on the kid’s chest to keep him from rising. When the kid struggled to knock the hand away, a buddy of mine who stayed said Adonis held firm and said to the kid, “You win. Just stay there and you can tell anyone you want to that you won this fight. Please stay down because I don’t want to hit you anymore.” He said when the kid heard that, he just relaxed and passed out. By the end of the year, he was a member of Adonis’ crew.

I guess I was thinking about that fight because of all the crap that’s been hitting me lately. Sickness, bills, general troubles. We all have to go through dark places, but honestly, it feels like it’s been awhile since I’ve seen the light. Of course, the one huge difference between my current state and the kid’s that day long ago at The Rocks is life doesn’t tell you to stay down or you’ve won. Get up as many times as you want to; Life’s big right hand is going to put you flat on your back one more time until you break or die. It’s a rule. Nobody gets out of here alive; you just get to choose how disfigured you want to be.

Sorry about the bummer ending, y’all.
Just remember ol’ G.S. Feet loves each and every one of you. Stay safe and keep those feet clean.

Fight!

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Budge came home from work yesterday completely wiped out. She’s been doing PASS testing all week and that had taken its toll, but what really had her in high dudgeon was having to break up her first fight in her entire seven years of teaching. As she described it, I realized this wasn’t just an ordinary fight. One boy really meant to hurt the other one. She told how the one boy had knocked the other boy to the ground and then, instead of backing off, the aggressor had begun kicking the other child, resulting in some huge knots on the poor defender’s body. I told her, as a former boy, that wasn’t cool. I don’t know about everywhere else in the world, but when I was growing up, such a display wouldn’t have been tolerated. As tweens and adolescents, we had our own informal code duello that a boy ignored at his peril. Girls fighting girls had their own rules to which we males were not privy, but they seemed to involve copious hair pulling and disrobing.

Rule #1 was you always fought your own size. Now a brave and tenacious little chihuahua of a boy might take on a big ole’ country boy, but a larger boy would be ostracized for starting a fight with someone smaller. Same thing for girls. Generally, girls were NOT to be hit; however, where I come from and in a couple of the places I taught, some girls walked the halls with boys hurrying to get out of their way. The rule was the same. You could not, in good honor, strike a girl for any reason. You couldn’t even retaliate against a girl who struck you. BUT, all things have their limits and a girl who drew back for the fourth or fifth time was putting herself in a man’s place and thereby bringing herself under a man’s rules, so caveat emptor.  Now, if the boy was the significant other of the girl doing the assaulting and she was doing said assaulting because of information she’d found out about said boy’s activity the previous night . . . well, he was honor bound to stand there, protect his face (and nether regions), and take it like a man. He earned it.

The second inviolate rule of our fights was if someone was knocked down, the combatant standing was obliged to either stand back and let the fallen regain his feet or to go to the ground with him. Under no circumstances was it kosher to kick a person who was down while you were standing. See, when you are punching someone or wrestling with someone, you get hurt too. You feel the pain and that encourages you to moderate your blows so no one is permanently injured. When you kick someone though, especially if you’re wearing shoes or, gods forbid, boots, you don’t feel a thing and one wrong kick to the head or kidney can result in more than just a lecture from Mom or the principal.

Finally, the fight continued until honor was satisfied. I’ve seen boys knocked cold by a roundhouse right, I’ve seen boys choked out by a rear naked choke on the ground, and I’ve seen — more than once — two boys just stop and walk away or shake hands and pat each other on the back. Fights were for pecking order, attracting the attentions of a girl, and settling disputes or matters of honor. We were not out to really hurt each other. When one person stopped resisting, the fight was over.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I saw more than one fight that was a blood rage because of the taking of a girlfriend or some unbearable insult to family. Those fights were much more brutal and it was highly unlikely the combatants were going to be friends ever again, if they ever were. Still, despite what the pugilists might scream at each other before battle was joined, I only saw a bare handful of times when one boy truly saw red to the point that he meant to cause serious, irreparable damage to the other boy and on those rare occasions, it was up to those of us watching to keep one from the hospital (or worse) and the other from prison. Those fights were thankfully few and very far between.

Today though, the rules are out the window. We would never have considered using a knife in a fight, much less a gun. A boy who pulled a weapon would immediately be branded a coward and a pariah. After all, no shame was meted out for losing a fair fight. Students today, however, fueled by the violence of the culture surrounding us all have developed precious little respect for the sanctity of life. I have looked into the eyes of two, and only two, students I parted during a fight and knew in an instant that if they had the means at hand, they would kill me right then and there without hesitation or remorse.

Of course, we fought for different reasons and it was seldom deeply personal. The papers today are full of reports of students killing each other over the smallest affronts, real or imagined. Also, boys today fight for territory, for drugs, and for sheer rage and rebellion. Today, many fights that break out in the halls or on the playground could very well be “for keeps.”

That is sad to me. I suppose it is a sign of the times as the “old folks” say. Still it hurts my heart to look at young boys so willing to deal out death or dismemberment — often for little reason if any at all.

Take care, everyone. Stay out of harm’s way. Keep your left up, lead with your jab, and wash your feet!

Love y’all 🙂