Friday, June 1, 2018

Never Fight An Angry Monkey

My dad was pretty tough in his youth.
     These days, I could probably take him in a fair fight, but the fear he instilled in me as a young boy has me trembling at the thought of a fight with him, fair or otherwise.
    Back when I was still in single digits, I came home crying because my best friend’s father had booted me in the can. “Get the Hell out of my house!” he yelled. I had broken something. I don’t remember what, but he must have been pretty fond of it.
    When my father, who was in the street changing his car’s oil, saw me crying, he immediately wanted to know who did it.
    “Mr. Sanchez,” I sniffed.
    My father dropped his tools. They hit the pavement with an angry clank. He grabbed me by the arm and pulled me along to our neighbor’s house, banging on the door when he got there.
    Mr. Sanchez opened it, and stood there with a tough guy smirk on his face. He had a revolver stuck in the waistband of his pants. The implication was apparent. You’ve got to remember, this was a different time. A time when people took care of their own problems. There was no scurrying off and calling the police.
    “Qué, buey?” Mr. Sanchez said, lifting his chin defiantly. What, ox?
    Trust me, it sounds worse in Spanish.
    My father fought in the Philippines during World War Two. It wasn’t the first time he faced a man with a gun. In a move even Rambo would envy, my father grabbed the gun, cracked Mr. Sanchez against the skull with it, and stuffed it back into his waistband before he had a chance to start falling. When he did fall, he crumpled to the ground hard.
    I thought it was over with, but I got it, too, when we got home.
    “I don’t know what you did,” my father told me between whacks, “but I know you did something.”
    My father once told me about a fight he got into at a bar. The bartender told them to take it outside. They obliged, both of them wanting to continue drinking after it was over. My father was the first one out the door. When the other man was one foot across the threshold, my father slammed the heavy door against him. It knocked the poor guy back several feet. He never got back up. When the bar closed, they moved him to the sidewalk out front and left him there to spend the night.
    I write all that because my father and I were watching Blazing Saddles the other day. When he saw Mongo, played by Alex Karras, knock out a horse with one punch, he said, “I could do that.”
    I looked up from fussing with my laptop. It’s about ten years old, and on its last legs. I’d buy another, maybe even a MacBook Pro since I’ve never owned an Apple, but that takes money, and these days my money goes to fixing the things my father breaks.
    But I digress...
    “Do what, pop?” I asked him.
    “Knock out a horse.”
    “Is that right?” I said.
    My father shrugged.
    I thought about that. Then purposely picked the toughest animal I could think of, “What about a rhinoceros?”
    “Rhinos,” he said, “are the bullies of the animal world. Stand up to one, and he’ll back down. With that big horn up front, it makes them look tougher than they are. It’s intimidating, but that’s about it. The horn protects his face, so that makes a rhino overconfident. Just grab that horn to steady yourself. He’ll grunt, because that’s the way rhinos laugh, but he won’t be laughing when you give him a roundhouse to his temple. That’s his weak spot. He’ll go down quick.”
    That was more words in just a few seconds than my father had spoken to me my entire life. I wasn’t sure if he was serious, or, like Mel Brooks, was just having fun with me at the expense of the animal kingdom, but I played along.
    “How about a dolphin?”
    “Cover Flipper’s blowhole. When he starts to panic because he can’t breathe, an uppercut to his jaw will do the trick,” he told me. “Dolphins have a glass jaw.”
     "What about a manatee?"
     "Now you're just making things up."
     "No, really. They're also known as a sea cow."
     Even though it's true, that sounded phoney-baloney even to me, so I said something else.
    “Well, have you ever punched a cow?”
    “Who do I look like? Rocky?" he wanted to know. “I don't know about manatees, but seals, seals are tough. It’s like fighting a beach ball smeared with Vaseline, but stomp on his flipper and he's all yours.”
    “Giraffes could be a problem."
    “A karate chop to their windpipe will take them out,” he said, karate chopping the air in front of him with one muppet-like arm. “You just have to get out of the way when they fall.”
    “I heard a Komodo dragon bit off Sharon Stone’s husband’s foot.”
    “The actress?”
    “Yeah, remember her from Casino?”
    “No, I remember her from Basic Instinct. I don’t know why her husband was fighting a giant lizard, but one thing he should have known is anything with a tail is easy to beat. Grab the tail, lift it high, and whatever it is will just hang there looking ridiculous.”
    With my father’s tall tales, I felt like a kid again. He did, too, I bet.
    “What about a chimpanzee?”
    My father looked at me.
    “You don’t ever want to fight a chimpanzee, son. They have that monkey strength going for them, and the angrier they get, the stronger they get. They don’t fight fair, either. They’ll bite off your nose, tear off your face, anything to win the fight.” With that, he paused, and then said, “You leave those monkeys alone.”
    Good advice, I guess.
The advice is always good at,, and @JimDuchene.

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