Butterflies on the Subway and Black Berets

“Once I read a story about a butterfly in the subway and today, I saw one! It got on at 42nd and off at 59th, where, I assume, it was going to Bloomingdales to buy a hat that will turn out to be a mistake, as almost all hats are.”
You’ve Got Mail

Once upon a time, a loooooong time ago, my friend Wes asked me this question: “If you were a hat, what kind of hat would you be?”

“A black beret, of course”, I responded without hesitation.
This was the mid-nineties when everybody was wearing berets. Think Monica Lewinsky.
And it was during my black dress with black tights with black Doc Martins phase so yeah, I felt confident with my decision.

As I remember it, we were walking down a pretty steep hill near Wes’ home in San Diego on our way to dinner at a little place in his neighborhood.

Or… We were walking down that same hill after parking someplace where they didn’t have meters (because we were too cheap cool to pay for parking) and I was eating an Abba Zabba.

I have memories of both those events and the hat conversation happened on one of them I just can’t remember which one.
Anyway, I digress.

Wes stopped dead in his tracks mid-hill which took me a while to notice and because I had so much momentum going. When I finally did look back—he was shouting distance away.

I know that because I heard him shouting “You are so NOT a black beret! Do you even know yourself at all?” At the back of my head.

I waited and when he caught up with me he gave one of those shoulder shoves that your brother gives you when you eat the last chocolate chip cookie or your friend gives you when you say something dim-witted like, you think you’re a black beret.

“What? I love my black beret! It’s simple and clean and it gets the job done—pretty much like me!” I said, presenting my case to his smirky little face.

He started to laugh. And not just a polite little tee hee kind of laugh. Oh, no, my friend was practically doubled over, seized with big guffaws of raucously loud laughter.

I looked around, embarrassed, but the street was empty.

“You are the most complicated person on the planet! He finally managed to choke out. “Simple? Simple? HARDLY!” Bahahahahahaha!

I just stood there with a pouty face silently watching my friend convulse with laughter. But as everybody knows laughter is contagious and within seconds I came down with a nasty case of the giggles.

He continued, Oh, my, gawd! Get’s the job done! A beret is boring! A beret says I didn’t have the time to think about this. You are NOT boring and let’s get real here—you overthink EVERYTHING!”

He locked his arm in mine as we continued down the hill powered by the laughter.

“Okay”, I acquiesced through a fit of giggles. He had a point. “Then, if you know me so well—what kind of hat am I?”

“You are a pink hat. A pink party hat with a flower. Something zippy and sassy that says let’s have fun!”

And although I would never be caught dead in such a hat, I loved the fact that my fashion-forward, highly insightful friend had picked the exact same hat for me that I imagined the butterfly on the subway had chosen for itself at Bloomingdales.

By the way, I have to disagree with Ms. Ephron, (who wrote You’ve Got Mail) hats are never a mistake, even for butterflies.

So…what kind of hat are you?

Carry on,
xox


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Dehumanization, Shame, and Unaccountability — The Slippery Slope Trifecta

At the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of my life,
I want to be able to say that I contributed more than I criticized.
~ Brene Brown

Have you ever noticed that I give you the heavier stuff on the weekends? So that you have three days to process it?
Weekends are good for that. And videos too. That’s when I catch up on my video watching and since I feel like you guys are family, I just assume you do the same. So, here ya go.

A video from two of my FAVORITE people—talking about heavy shit—on the weekend! But I LOVED IT!

Brene will be talking about (among other things) dehumanization, shame, and unaccountability. Which I like to call the Slippery Slope Trifecta. I can also admit, especially after the past year of the most butt-sucky, sucky, politics that I am guilty of all three. And after listening to this talk…I promise to do better.

If we dehumanize somebody by calling them names in the process of trying to shame them, (sound familiar yet?) they become non-human, expendable. Like, it is literally easier to kill them. Fuck.

The German’s did it with the jews, and some people are trying to do that today, TODAY, with anyone of color and immigrants. If we criminalize them then if they get shot or deported we won’t feel bad. That’s where the lack of accountability strolls in. There’s blaming others. There is fear mongering. We criticise anonymously. There are lies. We get offended by a word that was used—instead of the actual act.

Okay. So…put on your cozy pants and pull up a sheet cake—because shit’s about to get real.

Hey! Are YOU braving the wilderness?
xox

Check out all of this and more in Brene’s new book:

https://www.amazon.com/Braving-Wilderness-Quest-Belonging-Courage/dp/0812995848/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506122747&sr=8-1&keywords=brine+brown+braving+the+wilderness


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What’s Your Blind Spot? ~ Thrursday Throwback

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Hey guys,
This is a post from three years ago but after talking to some friends lately I think it’s as relevant now as it was then.
Whatcha think?
Carry on,
xox


Late the other night at the Carmel writing retreat, after three-plus hours in a masterminding session listening to and giving feedback on everyone’s books, my roommate Jeannie and I had become giddy from equal parts exhaustion, exhilaration, and chocolate.

In between fits of laughter, we would tell stories from our lives, peeling back the layers to reveal a bit more about ourselves.
We’d pull something out of our sacred stash of writings that we’d never read aloud to anyone before, offering ourselves up for critique, only to have our trusted roomie leap across the room and throw her arms around us. “You have to read that to the group!” We’d exclaim. Then we’d double over in a giant fit of the giggles. It was like summer camp for adults.
Pinkie swear.

One great story that Jeannie told, had to do with a crooked tooth.
She may be in her forties, and a highly successful entrepreneur, but she has the face of a pixie, a disarmingly charming southern drawl, the eyes of an imp, and a slightly crooked incisor (which I didn’t even notice until she told this story).

This tooth is part of a big beautiful smile, it is not unsightly, it’s certainly not calling attention to itself, and it is NOT a snaggle tooth. I know a snaggle tooth when I see one because my old boxer has a wicked one.

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Anyway, Jeanne is living a perfectly lovely life, slightly crooked incisor and all. As a matter of fact – she doesn’t even see it when she looks in the mirror.

So as she tells it, recently her mom asked her, quite seriously, “Honey, are you ever going to straighten that crooked tooth of yours?”
What?! I have a ….what?!” She ran to a mirror to survey the scene.

Yep, sure enough, there before her was a slightly turned in tooth.

‘Was it THAT bad? Why hadn’t she noticed it?‘ Her mind raced. ‘Is it holding me back? Are people repelled?’
You know how the mind works. Suddenly, because it was her mom calling attention to it, she had the teeth of a troll.

Hardly!

She just had a blind spot. Something she was so used to seeing, that she didn’t even notice it anymore.

God, we laughed about that tooth. “Yeah, I was wondering about that, when ARE you going to get that fixed?” I said, wincing and making gagging sounds. We laughed until our sides ached.

Then I remembered a blind spot story of my own, so I shared.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a flesh colored bump on the tip of my nose. I guess it’s technically a mole; but it’s not black, and there’s not a hair growing out of the center, so I’m not a witch—I can hear you, stop thinking that!

Anywho, I’ve had it removed twice, once sliced off and once frozen, and both times it grew back. Seems it felt cozy on that piece of real estate on my face, and it had no intention of vacating. So I left it alone.
To be honest, I never saw it when I looked in the mirror, it was just a part of my face.
Ahhhhhh, and then there’s my shitty vision—a blessing and a curse.

Cut to: A blind date, the 1990’s. I’m dressed to the nines, hair, make up, the whole enchilada. I’m seated across the table from an attractive man, at a VERY expensive, and perfectly pretentious Beverly Hills restaurant. I am picking at the $65 salad while he orders a bottle of something red, and when he finishes, he gets a big warm smile on his face, leans in like he’s going to kiss me (so I put down my fork and stopped chewing) then he reaches up and touches my nose lightly and says “You’re a pretty girl—you should get that fixed.”

He mole shamed me.

Motherf*cker, please. I spent an hour getting ready, I shaved my legs, I’m wearing my best…everything, I’m smart and witty (and humble) and you can’t take your eyes off my mole??

I grabbed my purse, politely excused myself and drove like a bat out of hell all the way home. I literally ran to the bathroom to study my face in the mirror, and there it was, my persistent friend.
(You really did have to get in just the right light to see it…I swear).

The next morning I called the dermatologist and had it removed…this time for good.

The things that I mentioned are minor, but what if we have a blind spot to something that is actually holding us back?
What if that guy was Mr. Right? Yeah, not in a million years. BUT…what if? I really knew deep down that I had the nose wart, I was just in a state of perpetual denial, so, maybe we shouldn’t shoot the messenger.

What else am I in denial about? Thinking I’m an organizing fool when I’m really just a fool?
Am I blind to the fact that I really cannot cook? Or keep to a budget? Or stay interested in a man for more than a year?

I’m convinced we ALL have a blind spot story. What’s yours?

Love you, warts and all,
Xox


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A Castastrofuck

In my world, a castarofuckish day starts out like any other.
The only difference is that for me at least, it reveals itself to be a day disguised as a very fat elephant which I agree at one point or another to push up a very steep set of stairs without any assistance whatsoever from the universe.

Just to be clear it is neither a full-blown catastrophe nor, is it a fuckfest. It is simply a day that I’d just as soon forget because of its general assholishness.

Case in point—Monday.
My first day back from a very relaxing vacation where EVERYTHING went right. I woke up raring to—not move one molecule of my body out of bed. I know you’ll be able to relate to this because that feeling of post-vacation inertia is Universal. Kinda like jet lag only without the jet travel (2 hrs doesn’t count).

And I’m sure we can all agree that the first day back is just as busy or busier than the day before you go. The big difference here is that the day before you leave for vacation you can stomach the stress because it’s balanced by the excitement of leaving any and all responsibility along with your identity in the rearview mirror. Or maybe that’s just me.

So, waking up completely unmotivated to tackle anything on my list—I did it all. I overcompensated. I shoved elephant ass.

I went to Costco.

I went to Costco because, well, is there ever a good reason to go to Costco? I thought maybe I had one—so off I went. Halfway there I had second thoughts. I should have turned around. Instead, I drove faster. The elephant is eyeballing the stairs.
Instead of screaming “Don’t do it!” I move aside and say “After you.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the start of a catastrofuck.

It is just my husband and myself. Just us two. I have no business buying in bulk. But as fast as you can say “Six packages of dental floss for the price of four!” I fill a cart with shit we don’t need that will take us the rest of our lives to use.

Two hours later, when I returned home, tired, famished and having to pee like a racehorse—I took stock and was tempted to start drinking. No problem there, I’d bought enough mixer to host a small, Mexican wedding (if there were such a thing).

What the hell had I done? Nevermind…

While attempting to cut ONE of the five-pound containers of peppercorns free of their childproof, scissor-proof, plastic wrap, I decided, as an act of love, to fill our pepper mill. My husband had mentioned a while back that it looked low.
An hour later, once the jar of peppercorns was free, I cheerfully set about unscrewing the peppercorn holder from the rest of the mill. It didn’t take many corns to fill it (about twenty-five) which was the moment I had the realization that we would have to include the extra jars of peppercorns in our will.

I think I will leave them to my sister.

I screwed the thing back together, very pleased with myself that I’d managed to accomplish a completely useless and mundane task in no time at all. It was so fulfilling I felt a little smug. That is until I went to put it back in its place next to the stove and while in mid-air it decided to come apart raining tiny black peppercorns all over the kitchen.

Not only that.

As I stood there admiring the surprising trajectory of the traveling peppercorns, the bottom of the mill knocked over a full bottle of balsamic vinegar which then proceeded (in slow motion) to glug, glug, glug, its entire contents down the side of and underneath the stove.

Balsamic vinegar is black. And sticky. Who knew?

I still hadn’t eaten and I had gazillion things left on my list as I got on my hands and knees with one of the six rolls of paper towels I’d just purchased.

“When you need something done—give it to a busy person,”

said a fuckface who probably had hired help.

I’ve decided that the only thing worse than a catastrofuck is a post-vacation catastrofuck that falls on a Monday.

Who is with me?

Carry on,
xox


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Ima Hugger

I walked into the gym bright and early, trying to beat this oppressive heat wave at its own game.
I like to sweat on my own terms.

Just inside the opening to the room where they keep the torture devices, weight machines, I spotted a young, ginger haired man wearing a loud purple t-shirt with the words Ima Hugger on the front. It took me a minute to figure out if that was a persons name, some obscure fraternity babble—or a mission statement.

Just one look at the guy’s cheerful, bubbly demeanor assured me it was the latter
.

“Oh mah gawd, I’m a hugger too!” I declared, arms outstretched.

“Incoming!” That’s the warning my husband and I give each other when unexpected hugging breaks out.
It’s only polite.

Speaking of polite, I know people who say it’s rude to hug someone without their permission. Seriously? Get over yourself.
I see you looking at the ground or pretending you’re on the phone. Trust me when I say that I can read your body language and I’ll never force myself on you. You are probably an introvert. I’m Kryptonite to introverts.

Besides, no one likes to hug a corpse.

Anyway…I digress…

Completely taken aback and drenched in sweat, (which is not a great combination) My new ginger-pal put down the handles of the heavy, stainless steel, arm-stretchy thing he was pulling as exercise, and we came together in an awkward public display of affection among strangers.

“Sorry, I probably smell,” he cautioned as we patted each other on the back like we were dislodging large chunks of food that had stuck in our throats.

“That’s okay,” I replied. “I’m about to peel the paint right off these walls with my odiferous-ness!”

We both laughed. So did the old man on the rowing machine.

As ginger-hugger turned around to resume his workout, he stopped for a second, his face awash in nostalgia.
“You know, I miss that. Nobody hugs here.”

“Here, like at the gym?” I asked because he was right about that. That only happens at the fancy, pick-up joints on the Westside that masquerade as gyms.

“No. I mean, I’m from the east coast and we hug it out—ALL THE TIME.”

“Seriously?” I said, finding it hard to believe that the hard scrabble, city folk on the east coast hug more than here in LaLa Land.
We even have a reputation as tree huggers.


Case in point. Here is my brother on a recent visit to LA hugging my tree. It’s genetic.

“I’m from LA, born and raised”, I said, “But when I’m in a foreign country and I say to people “Bring it in—I’m a hugger”, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE says “Oh, you must be from California!
I’m pretty sure it’s the only sentence I know in Mandarin.”

“It’s true!” he insisted. “Maybe it’s strictly a LA thing and it doesn’t bode true for the rest of California?”

“That could be it,” I agreed. “A lot of LA acts like it is way too cool for school.”

“It’s a virtual No Hug Zone“, he chimed in.

We both nodded in agreement. So did the lady on the stair-stepper thingy that you will NEVER catch me on.

He went back to his arm pulling and I mounted the elliptical apparatus like a boss.
But I couldn’t help but feel a little sad about the Hugging Ginger’s LA experience. I wanted to apologize for our aloofness and fear of showing affection.

After my heart rate came down to something sustainable, and I had beat the urge to vomit—I realized the aversion to hugging was just a phase. It’s not the locals who are afraid to hug, it’s the transplants. The beautiful people from Peoria and Poughkeepsie who have all found themselves here and are unaware of our customs. I know they worry about looking cool and fitting in so I’m sure hugging was one of the first things that they crossed off their list. After they threw away their crocks.

But then somebody like my beautiful, Hugging Ginger Man comes to town and breaks the mold.
I love that. Don’t you?

To all of you huggers out there…
Carry on,
xox


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The Circle of Life

We are up in B.C this week. At an idyllic place called Tofino where the scenery is so splendid, it leaves me speechless (and that is not easy!). Our intention was to uplug, stroll the beach, nap & read, experience any kind of weather other than the African savannah heat that has plagued LA recently—and celebrate our sixteenth wedding anniversary.

But today is September 11th.

It’s two days after our wedding day. Just like it always was and always will be.
Just like it was back in 2001 when, as a country, we lost our innocence.
I remember that day as a collective gut punch.
Sorrow on a level I will not soon forget.

And so, no matter where we travel to celebrate love, this day will follow us; our narrative as a couple forever woven into the fabric of the heavy wet coat I put on every year around this time.

Back in 2001, I found it viscerally impossible to be happy after the morning of Sept. 11th. I went from being blissed out—to feeling sad, vulnerable and scared. It changed everything. The viscosity of the air—my understanding of life—and what if means to feel “safe”. It cast a pall over what should have been the happiest time of my life. Even today, all of these years later it tugs at me, trying to recreate that same level of loss.

I was walking on the beach this morning thinking, “It’s September eleventh. Who am I to be so happy?”

Then the voice in my head answered back, “Who are you NOT to? Life is short. Carpe Diem, Seize the day.” And I’m reminded of sixteen years ago, and my sweet, brand new husband of two days, consoling my inconsolable self. “All of those people would want us to be happy and enjoy life”, he said, trying to pull me out of the abyss. “They would if they could.”

And eventually, I believed him.

So the years have worn all of the sharp edges of sadness smooth like time has a tendency to do, turning it over and over like a pebble in a stream—transforming it into a quiet melancholy. But even that is fleeting these days. It visits only for a moment. Then, I see a dog running and smiling on the beach and happiness bubbles up from my feet and rushes to my face and I start to smile—and just at the point where in the past I would start to feel fragile, I ask myself, “Who am I to be so happy? And now myself answers loud and clear—”Who am I NOT to.”

And the circle of life continues…

Carry on,
xox


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The Wishgranter ~ Reprise

I love this so much I can’t breathe! So, of course, I had to share it with you.

It’s not that long! I can hear you. Quit complaining! Besides, it’s the weekend.

Enjoy!
xox


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Faulty Loyalty

If I have one good quality it is that I am loyal. To a fault.

I’ve gone to the same hairdresser for over thirty years, I eat at the same little lunch place every week and order the same thing (the Chinese chicken salad), and I’ve had the same housekepper and gardener for close to twenty years.

In this fast-paced age of chasing the latest and greatest, this gives me a sense of stability and more than that; these people are like family to me.

Which makes what I’m about to say well, uncomfortable.

Our housekeeper is legally blind and our gardener is perpetually MIA—which has caused me to question my faulty loyalty.

Since our home is modest and it’s just my husband and me, both Maria and Pedro come once a week and that’s plenty. Through the years we have established the practice of paying them when we leave town and when they’re sick or have an emergency and can’t make it.

Because that’s what family does.

But in the past year, my husband and I have spent many a weekend trimming trees, raking leaves, and cutting back rose bushes instead of waiting for Pedro to get around to it—and pre-cleaning the house before Maria comes on Saturdays.

Maria is barely five feet tall, pathologically private, and seems to be about my age (late fifties) although it’s really hard to tell. She could be thirty-five—or seventy. She has never learned to speak English but that’s okay. Between my broken high-school Spanish and the translator app on my phone—we communicate with each other beautifully. She has endeared herself to me by saying “yes” to everything I ask her to do even though I know she has no idea what I’ve said—because it never gets done. She is as honest and trustworthy as the day is long, which is imperative—but truth be told she’s not the best house cleaner on the planet and she breaks something I love once a month.

But just when I hear about somebody better, I come home to find she has cut fresh flowers from my garden and put them into an old, silver mint-julep cup on my bathroom sink. Or “broomed” a rat to death who had the misfortune to be lurking next to the bar-b-que.

So, after eighteen years, just when she was hitting her stride, Maria had a botched cataract surgery on her right eye. One Saturday morning in May she showed up wearing thick, black glasses and a pirate patch. All drugged up and bumping into walls, we told her to forget about cleaning, paid her for the day, and made sure she got home safely. A few weeks later, for reasons known only to Maria, the timing seemed perfect to have the same surgery on her remaining one good eye.

Unfortunately, that surgery didn’t go well either which left her unable to drive, cook, or see anything in focus. After taking a couple of weeks off, a friend dropped her off at our house unannounced one Saturday morning. When she walked in the door we were stunned. Both eyes were covered with a gooey ointment that was seeping out from the edges of gauze patches, and she could barely make out our faces. It was then that she informed us that she was legally blind but when pressed, she wouldn’t go into any details. Dismissed with a huff, she silenced us by grabbing the vacuum, turning it on, and using the hose like a white cane, banging her way down the hall.

My moldings have never been the same. They wince when they see her coming.

Then there is Pedro. Pedro is a dream. He is the kind of gardener who treats your garden as if it were his own. He trims, weeds and mulches without being asked and over the years we’ve formed an alliance against the squirrels that dig up most of my potted flowers and wreak havoc with the wires for the landscape lighting. He is hardworking and reliable. At least he was until last summer when he stopped showing up. Instead, he sent “The B Team”, who I have to say are terrible. They are of the cursed “mow-n-blow” variety I have been so lucky avoid. When I asked them to trim back the bougainvillea, they Edward Scissorhanded off all of the hot pink summer foliage, leaving just the bare, woody stems.

One Tuesday in late October I came home to find Pedro in the backyard shaking his head in disgust at the hack job I’d done on the rose bushes. Overcome with joy I ran over and hugged him awkwardly while simultaneously knocking the wind out of him with my purse. While he recovered, I peppered him with questions like, “Where have you been?” and “Why haven’t you returned my texts?”

The whole scene felt eerily similar to a bad break-up or five I’d had back in the day.

In a whisper that was barely audible, he told me that his fifteen-year-old son had died of cancer. In the same spooky whisper, I tried to console him by confiding to him that I talk to dead people and that I had it on good authority that love never dies. Now on top of being consumed by grief, the man was scared witless. Rattled, he made a hasty retreat. I’ve never seen someone who wasn’t being chased by a wild animal run so fast. That was the last time I saw Pedro and since it is no longer the beneficiary of his magical green thumb the garden has suffered dramatically.

I’ve been forced to start to asking around for someone else, all the while feeling as if I’m cheating on him.

My friends have noticed my paint-less moldings and hacked up hedges.
They chide me about my misguided loyalty, reminding me that I pay good money and that “enough is enough.” But family is family and like most, we are dysfunctional as hell. But one thing is certain; while my loyalty to Maria and Pedro may be in question—my affection for them will never be.

Carry on,
xox


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Have You Ever Thought, “What If?”

So, what if…?

Nonchalance was the new “hair on fire”?

Because of the joy factor associated with eating pie for breakfast, you set yourself up to burn more calories for the rest of the day?

Sleeping was considered “getting it done?”

“The early bird catching the worm” was a lie started by Starbucks?

Disappointment was taking score too soon.

Kale and chia seeds caused depression—and chocolate cured cancer.

We all wore uniforms (think Steve Jobs).

A study found that gray hair was a measure of intelligence.

Saving money was found to be highly overrated.

Toddlers and dogs were found to have higher IQ’s than Einstein.

The moon really was made of gruyere cheese.

Nine out of ten dentists think the tenth dentist is an idiot.

In a remote section of the Amazonian rainforest, money was found growing on trees.

Little Red Riding Hood secretly ate the wolf with a nice Chianti and some fava beans…and then changed the story.

A university education wasn’t worth the paper the diploma was printed on.

They really drank whiskey at the last supper.

The happier you are the more good things come your way.

I was just thinkin’.

Carry on,
xox


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Frejah, Tina, And A Really Dumb Hobby ~ Or, That Time I Tried Boxing

On beating yourself up

Almost everyone does it. I’m not sure why.

After the fact (or even during it) all the blame, second-guessing and paralysis. We say things to ourselves that we’d never permit anyone else to say. Why?
1. It leaves us bruised and battered, unlikely to do our best work while you’re recovering.
2. It hurts our knuckles.
3. It distracts us from the work at hand.

Perhaps there’s a more humane and productive way to instill positive forward motion. I’m sure there is.
At the very least, this is a dumb hobby.
~ Seth Godin


Once, back in the nineties, I took a boxing class.
I figured that with the boss I had and all of the sex I wasn’t having—I must have a lot of hostility to work out. And besides, I had read in Vogue that you could burn 1200 calories an hour boxing!

Sign . Me. Up.

The instructor, a tall, Mandingo Warrior named Frejah (pronounced Free-Jay) who trained professional fighters at a famous gym in Venice, would have us carefully bind our fists with tape, lace up our gloves, and stand in front of a six-foot tall dark blue leather punching bag that was suspended by a heavy black chain from the ceiling. Every class he’d stand behind us, kicking our legs into a wider stance as he ghetto-yelled “encouragement” which could have easily been mistaken for harassment—all in the name of motivation.

“Come on you little pussy” He’d holler at Kenneth, a guy who came in wearing a white shirt with a pocket protector, “You couldn’t hurt your grandmother, who by-the-way, said to say hello to you this morning.”

Some of us may have giggled.

“Oh, you think that’s funny?!” he swooped in beside me and bellowed in my ear like a drill sergeant, “Do ya?!” I shook my head no emphatically as I pawed at the bag like a baby kitten. “Is that how you hit a fucking bag?!”

He went and stood in front of all of us as we tried in vain just to make the heavy bag swing on the chain.
We all sucked. And this was like week four.

“Hit the fucking bag!” he screamed, foam escaping the sides of his snarled lips. “Hit it like you mean it!”

There was a timid girl next to me, Tina, wearing glasses and a ponytail. Her face was filled with determination but every time she hit the bag her glove would just slide off and she’d almost do a face-plant on the behemoth. Frejah became silent as he watched her punch and lose her balance, punch and lose her balance.

His silence was not a good thing. It meant that the pressure was building—and he was about to blow!

I couldn’t watch.

As I sent a flurry of kitten punches into the body of my bag, Frejah got into Tina’s face. Inches away he started sneering insults. “What the hell do you think you’re doing you little mamby pamby?”

I had no idea what that meant, it just sounded bad. Weak and lame. Frejah was right. We were a bunch of mamby pambys.

He grabbed the glasses off her face and tossed them over to the side. Oh, fuck, I thought, How do I watch what’s about to happen and still look like I’m hitting the bag? My talented right eye traveled over somewhere around my ear to get a good view. (It never happened before—and it has never happened since.)

Frejah was yelling obscenities at Tina while pushing her in the chest with his glove.
Goading her to hit him.
“Your daddy an asshole?” he sneered, “I bet he’s a reeeeeal piece a work. You hate him dontcha?” He pushed Tina a little harder with just one gloved fist.

“Hit me. I’m your shitty daddy. Hit me! You know you want to!”

But that bitch stood her ground. She didn’t budge. Until she did.
Without so much as blinking Tina landed a solid left hook squarely on Frejah’s right jaw. Then she walked out. I found out later that she drove all the way home (without her glasses!) with her hands still bound in the bright red boxing gloves.

We all froze in place like life-size, mamby pamby ice sculptures. Frejah barely flinched. His glove went up to his face and he nodded. I think I saw..admiration?

After waiting the appropriate three minutes to thaw,  I found my nerve, grabbed Tina’s glasses off the floor, unlaced my gloves, and never went back to class. Boxing had started to seem like a really dumb hobby, dangerous in more ways than one. I decided to take up running. Getting run over by a car seemed like a gentler way to go than boxing with Frejah.

One of the guys who stayed, told me later that Frejah only got more abusive as the months went on (it was a twelve-week class) but that in his defense everyone who stayed (one heavily tattooed girl who was more masculine than Vin Diesel, and looked like she could kick the shit out of Frejah if given the chance—and five guys) —they all got REALLY good.

I guess that form of abuse “motivates” some people.

I met Tina that Saturday for coffee at Borders to give her back her glasses and basically say, “What the fuck, girl?!” I told her I wasn’t going back. Tina nodded, “Frejah sounds like all the voices in my head,” she said, “I don’t need to pay someone to talk to me like that!”

“I know. What a dick,” I agreed.

“But I can’t tell you how silent the voices have been since that night. I think I scared the shit out of them!” Tina laughed.
So did I.
Then she leaned in, “And for the first time in over three years I called my horrible father” she whispered like he might hear her. “How did Frejah know?” She looked at me with an odd combination of wisdom and naiveté.

“It’s his job. I think guys like that can smell it,” I said and went to order a giant slab of pumpkin bread so I didn’t have to think about how much I wanted to slug my shitty dad.

Maybe I should have kept boxing?

Carry on,
xox


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