No one enjoys asking a random question more than me. I love to “fire for effect.” As such I perceived Dennis’s February question to me at Corky’s to be just a passing inquiry.
“Who would you hit,” he asked, “If you could have one free punch at anyone in the world?”
I thought long and hard before answering “No one.”
“I’ll bet you’ve never hit someone, have you?”
He was in awe.
Brother Dennis is as loyal a friend as they come. Further, he has often offered to prove it.
A few years ago facts revealed that a purported friend of mine was intimate with my soon-to-be ex-girlfriend. Breakfast with Dennis went like this:
“Can I beat him up for you?”
“Don’t be an ass!”
“What’s wrong with you? The guy’s doing this to you…just let me beat the crap out of him!”
“C’mon. He’s a schmuck; let it go.”
“OK, but if it were me I’d handle it differently.
“It’s not.”
Fast forward a year and a half and while intellectually I know fighting is wrong, I’m beginning to think I may be in the minority.
Consider this: I have a friend of long standing that has over time abused not only our relationship, but has burned bridges all around him. Indeed, this writer may be the last man standing. Most of his peers have given up on him. (Editors note: my son says I put faith in the wrong people; he may be right.)
Last week I decided that enough was enough and opted to write him a note relating my disappointment and setting boundaries. My personal comfort level mandated the act; I did so reluctantly, but it was time.
The guy has been to my house for Seder; he has been a roommate; he has been almost family. But as we say, “Dayeinu!”
I read the letter to a sober friend before its release. And to another.
They both felt it was well-written and should be sent. One thought it was too soft.
He received the letter on Friday and called. Intentionally I let it slide to voice mail. His message concisely stated that I was wrong, and that I should call him. I wasn’t, so I didn’t.
Several hours later he found me sitting on the patio at a coffeehouse.
Signaling me from the parking lot, he asked if we could speak. Assenting, I got up and walked over to him.
“Bruce,” he whined, “After all the years I‘ve known you, I didn’t deserve the way you treated me.”
I was in no mood for the conversation; my play was opening in two hours and I preferred the respite of the iced tea and sun.
“__________, I don’t have time for this.” Turning to leave I used the exit line I learned from Terry:
“We’ll talk later.”
It was just two steps later that I heard the screaming: “You’re a son of a bitch, you X!!!Z!#*!”
I couldn’t believe it. I turned, stared, and stared, and then walked away.
The population on the patio stared.
One lady asked “Is he for real?”
“He’s sick,” I offered. “Can you believe that? The last time I got hit was when Alan Wieder hit me in the 8th grade at Hebrew School.”
He yelled some more and then fled in haste, leaving his sunglasses behind as a memento of his madness. A handful of women were having coffee so I hung around and laughed it off with them.
Soon it was time to put down the script. I left and did the show.
I killed!
Saturday morning my friend called to apologize. He was somewhat contrite, qualified his apology by reminding me that he still disagreed with my letter but that he was sorry for the incident at the coffeehouse. He asked what he could do to make it up to me.
“I know you’re angry, “he said. “Just tell me how I can make amends.”
“I’m not angry. You just need help.”
“No, I want to make amends….For me, tell me what I can do.”
My final response was immediate: Laughing, I said “Don’t hit me anymore.”
I shared the story with Dennis at Monday’s breakfast. He was incredulous.
“You still like the guy, don’t you?”
“I guess…he’s just a schmuck.”
Dennis looked at me with that “All for one— one for all” look.
Right out of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
“Can I hit him for you,” he begged…….PLEASE?”


5 Responses to “THE BOXER”

  1. Aunt Helen says:

    I like paper clips

  2. alan says:

    So my memory is a little different although that is not to say you were a boxer. I think that we had a short period, mostly on my tree lawn on the way home from Greenview, where we both threw a few punches or at the very least tried to?

  3. Aunt Helen says:

    Why do you always have to make a joke and why can’t you wear a jacket like a normal person?

  4. Aunt Helen says:

    Just how many Aunt Helen’s do you have?

  5. Aunt Helen says:

    Yeah, big boy? How many do you have? Would you like another? Growl

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