Another glorious chapter of Klingon history. Tell me, do they still sing songs of the great Tribble hunt?- Odo [Rene Auberjonois]
From the episode "Trails and Tribble-ations,"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, 1996
HAMILTON, Ohio (ZP) -- The sound of Mexican Spanish and playing children and giggling cholas rang throughout my pounding skull as my knees buckled, my dancing done for the day.
Gossip about some female lead in a telenovela, Destilando Amor, from a group of chirping young women, sang through my body with every punch that made contact, with every point my opponent took from me.
"Oscar" landed two solid right jabs into the headgear, enough to wobble the brain within my skull, enough to start spinning the world.
I easily blocked the third punch, but my almost child-like attempt at a comeback, a series of left crosses and right-left jabs, a last-ditch right hook, signaled the end.
My out-of-shape, winded body gave up after a phantom left popped the mouthguard halfway across the yard, a simple reminder that the summer's woes had left me nothing more than a shitbag full of sloth.
The skin-sheering heat and humidity choked me as I spun, my last view as a boxer the urban decay of a migrant neighborhood in east Hamilton, a few miles away from Pershing Avenue.
* * * *Pershing, as in ol' General Black Jack himself, the legendary U.S. military commander during the First World War, savior of Europe.
A man better known, in Mexico and the Southwestern United States, as the Big Bad Gringo who'd once been dumb enough to pursue Pancho Villa, the Mexican legend, across the border, back in 1916.
As the Mexican freedom fighters triumphed in the only successful military attack on the continental States in the 20th Century, yet another Gringo had failed to keep a Chicano from winning a fight.
* * * *
I could've, possibly, made one last stand, could've played Davy Fucking Crockett against the one-one-two-one barrage of Santa Ana punches, but the sight of a four-year-old girl slapping the dirt with both hands, counting me out as I tried to get back to my feet, her face smeared with ice cream, finally brought the sparring match to a close.
Two and a half rounds against a welterweight Mexicano, a born citizen of the Estados Unidos, son of an Illegal Migrante Father and a Texan Mother.
The Rio Grande Kid, not even old enough to vote but counting down the weeks until his military enlistment, waiting to build a future for himself and his immigrant girlfriend, the teenage mother of that little chica, had KOed his big brother's former sparring partner.
* * * *Hard to believe there are dumbass peckerwoods throughout Butler County, self-righteous rednecks throughout the U.S., who think "Oscar" and his young family don't belong in this country.
No one asks my opponent where he was born, if he's a U.S. citizen by birth - every job the kid's had, he's had to prove his birthright based solely on the fact that his skin is brown and he speaks Spanish.
Why aren't these assholes talking about building a fence along the Canadian border? I mean, we've had friggin' terrorists sneak across that side of North America.
Hell, we had a U.S. citizen carrying a highly contagious strain of friggin' tuberculosis fly into Canada, then drive on over, Border Patrol failing to detain him because, well, he was coming in from Canada.
Oh yeah. The majority of Canadians have white skin and speak English.
And I'm sure that fueled some rage inside him, the anger of any teenage father told that the mother of his child doesn't have the skills to be a U.S. citizen, a woman who wants to open a beauty salon one day, who told me he once lost his temper at a Germanic shopping mall clerk in Colerain for calling his daughter illegal, even though she's just as Ohio as the next kid born in this state.
With that much pent-up fury, I'm lucky my head stayed attached to my body during the bout. Fortunately for me, "Oscar" is a gentle soul, a true boxing artist and gentleman.
A good fighter turns rage into fuel, never wastes that fuel on something as stupid as uncontrolled violence.
Especially on an innocent older guy, a friggin' librarian with a blind spot on his right, with lead footwork and who drops his guard to talk smack.
Why waste the energy?
* * * *
No permanent damage.
I stayed on the ground, tossed off the gloves, and stared at a convoy of ants dragging the carcass of a beetle through the dust. Oceans of sweat poured from my head, turning the convoy's path into a muddy trap.
I could feel my left hand swelling, the knuckles gnarling up from my miserable showing. I spat pink, salty saliva - no loosened teeth but a few open wounds bleeding behind the molars. And, though my nose cartilage was intact, untouched in fact, I was certain that if we'd been sparring without headgear I would've been on my way to the emergency room.
* * * *
To be quite honest, I don't think I've ever enjoyed getting my ass kicked so much in my entire life.
Some lessons are best relearned, textbook free, in a notoriously bad neighborhood in the middle of goddamn nowhere Ohio.
And sometimes, the only way to relearn what makes a man a man is to play Black Jack Pershing to another's Pancho Villa, to swing for flesh and gasp for breath as one makes contact with nothing, to hit the dirt like a comic strip Palooka and accept that the world sometimes beats a man down just to teach that man how to get back onto his feet.
Oscar's girl brought me a bag of frozen mixed vegetables. For the hands. And a handful of Motrin and iced tea, as requested, for everything else. In broken English, the Indio-featured teen, large hoop earrings swinging behind jet-black Indio hair, told me that I fight good, fight good.
She took the victor his cold glass of sweet tea, helped him out of his gloves and tape and wraps, gave the victor his victory kiss long and hard. The winner's daughter sat in the dirt next to me, singing songs in gibberish, in that universal language only other little girls can understand.
"I think ya'll are gonna be alright, kiddo."
The child doesn't speak English, save for a few phrases picked up from Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer and other kids' TV shows. She cocked her head, giggled, and went back to tormenting the ants beneath a scorching sun.
* * * *
And I think I'm gonna be alright, too, actually.
It's good for the soul, really, to lose some fights. Reminds a person of the importance of being alive, of watching the sun rise over the horizon, of the sheer positive energy that lights up across the cosmos like fireflies in a jar.
So what if I ended up spitting out a chunk of filling from my teeth a few hours later? Or if my already pulled groin feels worse, or if my south paw aches from the work my right should've done? And who cares about a damned headache, a jarred sense of self?
I am alive.
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul? Walt Whitman once asked, And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?
If ol' Pershing hadn't gotten his ass handed to him in Mexico, that White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant illusion of the United States would be just about as American as Kaiser Wilhelm II.
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