by Grant Musgrave
When I was in High School, we all had to take a class called Phys.Ed. and the only way you could be excused from it was if you had missing limbs (and you had better also have a note from the doc stating that the arm you just removed was indeed a prosthesis). If you are close to my vintage and remember back, you will recall with great alacrity, that , unless you were a Jock, you roundly hated hated hated Phys. Ed., The Coaches, The Showers, and the uniforms, not necessarily in that order. To state that I was NOT a Jock, is laughably inadequate. I was about 5'10" tall and a whopping 120 pounds wringing wet. My arms were as massive as pipe stems and I was as awkward as I looked. ( I have since been mandated to "not wear short pants' Oh and to "not sing in church") Almost the first week our "beloved" coach announced that the first sport we would be participating in was BOXING....OH SHIT!!! In almost perfect unison and almost to a boy. the class rang out with " I WANNA BOX MUSGRAVE" OH DOUBLE SHIT!!! You know, back then, and even now, some young kid would off themself and everyone would cry out "Oh my God how could they have done that?" Not me, man, I got it totally, I was right on it (in it) To my credit, however, I was a game little bastard, when backed into a corner and given no recourse. I let them lace those humongous leather "pillows" onto my arms and bounced up and down like I'd seen on television, and waited for the "GONG OF DOOM". Actually it was a whistle, and as soon as I heard it I started dancing around and poking and Jabbing and sending in withering uppercuts (like on T.V.) The freakin guy wasn't even near me, he was just standing off and grinning like a fool. Sure enough, about thirty seconds into the round I was SPENT. My arms dropped to my sides and my classmate simply stepped up and started rearranging the graceful contours of my awkward but handsome face, at his leisure. And so it went every stinking day for a whole week. Every day I got the crap knocked out of me and laughed at in the bargain. Now, I always tried to keep my problems to myself, because that's just what you did in those days. But this was getting out of hand. So I decided to take this to my Dad, because my Dad had been a welterweight boxer in the Royal Air Force during the WWII. This was also a "last-ditch" solution for me because Dad also had some major health issues and had enough on his plate. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Dad had the goods I needed, so I went home and had one of the two talks that I can remember us having. I told him I was getting my ass kicked every day and that he just had to help me out. "Please, Dad, teach me to kick some ass!!!". And so, my case was plead. Dad stood there for a moment, obviously considering what devastation he was going to school me in first. I sat there savoring the picture I was forming of the first ass-kicking I would be dealing out soon. Dad looked at me in that way that only the British seem to manage, and said to me "you must keep your eyes open at all times, never take your eyes off your opponent" Yeah...Yeah.." I said "And..And.." You will see his arm cock back slightly and you will know where the blow is coming from and you can gauge where it's going". "Okay..Okay..and" I said. "Then you DUCK,STUPID, just don't be there" And that was all he gave me, just "DUCK STUPID" I can't begin to tell you how pissed I was, how short-changed I felt, how cheated. But, I figured, "What the Hell" and I gave it a shot anyway. The next day,still pissed, I suited up and showed up for my ass-kicking. But this time I just stood fast and watched the grinning asshole that was coming for me. I just held up my fists and calmly waited and watched. Then, I saw it! I'll be darned ! I saw his right arm twitch, and I knew where the blow was coming from, and instantly figured out where it was headed. I just ducked my head down a tad and his fist went flying by without even a touch. The left missed me too and the third blow was nowhere even close. I was giddy as a school boy (which I was) and naturally started immediately abusing my new gift by teasing and taunting my opponent. (with predictable "after-school" repercussions) But I have never forgotten that lesson and found it particularly useful after getting sober. Now I use it in all aspects of my life, especially in the preservation of my serenity. I keep my eyes open all of the time. i watch for where the blow is coming from and where it's going. I'M NOT THERE!