I dream I am in the middle of a large arena – in a boxing ring and I am being introduced. There is a lot of screaming and I cannot even hear what the announcer is saying. I am told to shake hands with the fighter across from me – I look at him and he is really big. I know, somehow, that he is very strong but not very fast. He throws a lot of punches that are easy to dodge but if you do get hit – well, just try not to get hit.
We exchange the usual boxers greetings and I walk to my corner. I am met by an older man who looks familiar but I cant place it. He takes my robe and slaps me on my butt.
“Go get him and dont let him hit you.” The bell rings and the sounds of the crowd have been silenced. Its as if a mute button was hit and the sound is gone. I turn to look and my opponent runs towards me and throws his fist my way. I take a hit in the side and I lose my breath but I stand my ground. I am angry at myself for letting myself be distracted. The round ends and I go back to my corner.
I have a memory of training for this fight. Early mornings of running, sparring and dancing. Late afternoons and sparring, punching and dancing.
“You let him hit you – you need to watch out, kid. You need to take the temperature of the ring, quick survey and watch your steps. Its a war of attrition – you’ve been training for this you know what to do, how to react…” Bell rings. I put something in my mouth and then walk towards that giant. I throw a punch quickly and it lands on his face. I throw a left jab and hit him squarely on the right eye. He falls back a bit but remains standing. I throw another and another – right, left, right, left – he is still standing and now he begins to laugh. I see his eyes and I can see right through them. Its as if they are made of glass and I throw a punch but he punches me first, misses. Bell rings.
I backstep towards my corner and my father is waiting for me with a big plastic cup with water. I drink it and I hug him. The bell rings…
I am dancing, but there is no beat, no music that I can hear. I was told to play music and carry on a beat in my head to keep me going…but I think I am deaf inside as well.
I think about Cindy and how much I loved her – she left me for that plumber with the plumbers butt…
I feel his punch across my face and I am falling…I fall to the floor and I am seeing colors and scenes from my life with Cindy…I hear counting and instinctively I know that I must stand up. I hear a voice calling out to me.
“Just because you are down – don’t let them count you out!”
I somehow get to my feet upon hearing “Seven!” and the bell rings.
I go back to my corner and my mother is there to hug me and to brush my hair. Bell rings.
I am punched, punched and punched again…I fall to the ground but I stand up and I tell the son of a bitch to give me his best shot.
I throw a one-two right, left and he is down. I feel triumphant but all too soon he is up – without me aware he is watching me celebrate. He punches me and I fall to the ground…stars, I am seeing stars…I hear a voice inside of me imploring me to “Never give up!” I am tired…too tired to stand up. But I find the strength…
How many punches can I take?
I have thrown all I have at him yet he still is smiling, punching and watching as I fall. The rounds go on – one by one – and I am still getting knocked down only to stand back up.
“A fighter until the end!” I hear someone saying.
“How much more can he take?”
How much more can I take…I am tired of the punches and finding the strength to fight…I see my opponent, he puts his hand out and I go to shake it. He throws a punch towards me and –
“Bob, wake up, we need to get going.” Its my sister Sophia. I jump up and remember where I am. I feel sore, beat up and tired.
We are driven to the synagogue where they will be eulogizing my father. I am walking on auto-pilot it seems – as if in a tunnel and unaware of anything around me. I feel the eyes upon me and I can hear whispering. Old friends come up to me with hugs and “long time no sees.” I exchange hellos and thank yous and find my way to the front to sit with my brothers.
I sit next to David and Joe and that’s when I see her. I look at her and nod. Suddenly I am thrust back to that night…
I saw Laurie standing by the curb.
“Hey I am sorry for -”
She kissed me on my mouth and I felt her tongue inside me and she tasted sweet.
“Do you have a car?” She asked me.
“Yes, right there.”
“Want to come to my place for …to be my friend?”
“Yes – I could use a friend right now too.”
We spent that night being friendly, very friendly. We didn’t do much talking and I didn’t really care. We spent the next morning being friendlier.
“I just felt that he and I were not a fit. He was a party guy and I am more of a homebody. He wanted to travel the world and I wanted to have children.”
She looked away.
“My mother read me the riot act – my father sided with me. I didn’t care about what anyone thought. I just didnt want to spend the rest of my life with someone who was more infatuated with his image than he was with the woman he proposed to.”
“You made the right decision.”
“I know I did and the craziest thing is how many people came over to me when they heard and actually congratulated me for not going ahead with the wedding.”
“So, you are Jewish, single.”
“How did you know I am Jewish?”
“The mezuzah on the doorways gave it away.”
“Yeah I put that up for my father. He passed away several years ago and I know he would be happy knowing that I at least kept up something from the religion.”
“When did you break off your marriage?”
“This past Spring, why?”
“You said your father supported you in your decision?”
“Oh, ok so this is the story. My birth father passed several years ago. My step-father basically played the role of father because my mother had me out of wedlock. When she got pregnant he married her and when she gave birth they both decided it wasnt a good idea. He was married before and had a whole family with grandchildren. Plus, he was in his late 60’s when he was with my mom, who was in her 40’s. Its very confusing I know, why do you think I have self-identity issues?”
“So wait, your Grandfather…” This was sounding all too familiar to me and the stupid ass I am couldn’t put two and two together.
“Stick with me here, it gets kind of complicated. My mother was divorced and had no children. She met my father and they got along very well. My mother thought she couldnt get pregnant because she never did get pregnant in her first marriage. Then one morning she felt nauseous and, well, it was me.” She giggled. “So, my birth father did the correct thing and married her. They were both miserable together, he was an older man, but he stayed with her until I was born and then they both decided to divorce. My mother was too young to be with someone who was that old. Someone who had been through the whole marriage, kids, grandchildren, etc. life before – he couldn’t imagine the middle of the night crying, teenage years and all the responsibility. So, he came over often and we remained close; he was a good man. My mother met Teddy soon after and they married. Then she had the twins.”
It hit me there and then.
“What is your birth father’s name?”