Take a Swing

The one and only time I got in a fist fight, I didn't actually throw any punches. That’s a technicality, though, I choose to ignore when I see some hunky, sweaty actor punching an obnoxious drunk across a bar. Or when, up on the movie screen, a hurt hero loses it, just loses it, quick enough to send “ooohs” through the shocked crowd eating their popcorn below.

Didn’t see that coming, they think. 

I didn’t see my make believe fight coming either. In 1981, I was more focused on neighborhood kickball rules and the colors of my new braided barrettes to worry about adding angst to my world. That would come years later as my teenage years usurped my emotional stability. As the bell rang for the first and only round, I was an 11-year-old lanky, gawky girl--all legs, which stood firmly planted in the cul-de-sac gravel, the place where I felt most at home.

Then what’s-his-name came along and messed it all up. He knocked me in the shins with his stupid words, and everything, for a fistful of minutes, changed. I’ll never forget the feeling of the anger that rose into my throat, finally exploding out of my mouth, raining bile and fear all over the road.

He looked at my brother. My brother, tiny, age six, outside and free, ready to play with the big kids. But it was the big kid who threw his punch: “Look at the baldy standing there. Bald like an old man. Baldy!”

The words hit my brother hard, but me harder. They took the wind out of me, and within the five seconds it took me to throw my imagined punch, I managed to picture all of needles, the burning of my brother’s veins, the vomiting on the side of the road from drugs designed to kill the beast inside him. The radiation table that sucked him up away from me, the pain in my parents’ eyes. It was too much. 

I lashed him with the only weapon at my disposal: words. 

So it wasn’t a punch I threw at the knock-kneed idiot on his ugly dirt bike; more likely, it was every piece of me that had been trapped inside for too long. I hope it burned. I hope it scarred him so much that he’d think twice before ever again throwing his own punch and anyone else forever and ever.

Movie punches. Cul-du-sac punches. Sometimes you just don’t know what else to do. Even if you are only eleven.


Tracy is a mom of two groovy girls and a warm, heavenly dog. Writing is her favorite thing in the whole wide world, with yelling out Jeopardy answers, smacking tennis balls around a court, memorizing filthy hip hop songs, and traveling wherever she can falling right behind. Her little bitty blog: http://bighipsopeneyes.blogspot.com.