One of the things about being unemployed is people expect me to show up places. I don’t have the excuse of having to work anymore, and that will be unfortunate the next time my in-laws get together.
Since I got the axe, I have been invited to baby showers, weddings, birthday parties and children’s sporting events.
I also was invited to a boxing match.
My family has boxed for three generations, and I am the only person in my generation not to have taken it up. Even my little sister has amateur titles. This is because boxing demands not only a lot of cardio and a keen ability to strategize, but also the ability to be punched in the face repeatedly.
I saw this face punching and decided it wasn’t for me.
Anyway, my cousin was the main event with a lengthy undercard. Since this was held at a beer garden, there was much alcohol-fueled chanting and flag waving by his supporters, which visibly irritated the other fighter’s supporters.
I was in charge of my mother, who has no sense of self-preservation, and my two chirpy nephews. Also, Cousin’s sweat-soaked, reeking sparring gloves, which I was put in charge of because reasons (i.e., my dad, who was the cutman, threw them at me as he walked past).
Somehow, instead of ending up ringside, we were surrounded by the other fighter’s supporters. The undercard lasted two hours, so by the time Cousin fought, everyone was drunk.
Now, the fellow Cousin was fighting was more than 100 pounds heavier than him. Rumors were flying the state boxing commission would disallow the fight, but Cousin drank three gallons of water and ate an entire cow and managed to make weight.
If this was a short story or a movie, Cousin would have won the fight. If he had another round, he would have won the fight, but he didn’t. His opponent clinched at every available opportunity. Also: He had 100 pounds on him.
Every time the Big Man clinched, he’d lean on Cousin, and he struggled under the pressure of another 300 pounds. Also, Big Man was slow, but he hit hard when he wasn’t clinching. By the end of the fight, Big Man was slowing and Cousin was peppering him with punches, but, alas, amateur fights only go so many rounds.
My nephews began screaming the inaccurate, but descriptive, insult “tree-hugger.” I would have laughed if it weren’t for the opposition’s fans all around us. My mother began booing like that old hag in the Princess Bride.
People were glaring at us.
“You suck,” my smallest nephew screamed.
“You suck,” my elderly mother screamed.
“Oh my God,” I said.
People had stopped watching the fight to watch the old lady and two small children hurl abuse at a guy who outweighed all three of them put together.
“Boooooooooooooo,” my mother howled. This worked for her, so she continued to boo, cupping her hands around her mouth as a impromptu megaphone. My nephews began to imitate her. She’s a bad influence on her grandchildren.
The fight ended, Cousin lost and the hometown crowd grew ugly. Threats flew and my mother continued to boo.
“Shut up.” I started looking for a police officers. You couldn’t miss them. They had been wandering around all evening. As soon as I needed one, I couldn’t find them.
Someone invited one of Cousin’s fans to fight. I grabbed my still-booing mother and nephews — the littlest one in tears over the unfairness of the loss — and hustled them out of there.
My mother temporarily stopped booing to complain we couldn’t leave my father behind. I pointed out he wasn’t surrounded by angry drunk people, but she was stubborn. (It’s one of her defining character traits.)
So I called his cellphone. “Where are you?”
“I left,” he said. “Those people were a bunch of angry, drunk assholes.”
… you don’t say.