I don't like venturing into the toy department of my local store. Mainly, because I usually have a kid or two with me who know how to wear me down to get what they want (Mom! Pleeeeaaaaasssseeee! Please. Please. Pleeeeeaaaasssseeee! I love youuuu!)
But today I was alone and I needed to purchase a birthday gift for my ten year old nephew. Ahhh, without kids, this was going to be easy. Get in. Grab a gift. And get the heck out of there.
But then, I saw them, perched on a shelf, mocking me through their colorfully designed packaging . . . Boxing gloves. Evil. Pure evil.
Just the look of them brought me to a standstill as the painful memories came rushing back . . .
There it was, 1982, Christmas morning. My brother and I clamber from our beds, excitement oozing from our very beings at the prospect as to what Christmas goodies waited for us under the tree.
Now, don't get me wrong--we received lots of wonderful gifts that year (of which I tend to forget). But I will always remember, sitting under the tree, on display, right up front . . . three brand new pairs of red boxing gloves. Two smaller versions, one for me and one for my younger brother. The larger pair, for my dad.
My dad was excited and encouraged us to try them on. I didn't want to. I wanted to play with real toys, not battle wear, but he made us put them on anyway and then got down on his knees to be on our same level.
"You two against me," he said. "This will be fun!"
My brother looked at me and I looked at him. How exactly was punching each other going to be fun? And where was my mouth guard and helmet? Oh wait! That's right. This was 1982. A time when no one wore bicycle helmets, padding, or even buckled up while driving in the car. Babies sat on laps, not in car seats. We were dumb back then.
"Come on," our father encouraged. "Come at me. Show me what you got."
I wasn't sure about any of this. I wasn't a tomboy. I wasn't tough. I was actually a very tiny, pencil-thin type of kid. I liked dolls. I liked wearing pink. Physical rough housing wasn't my nature.
My brother, on the other hand, let out a battle cry and charged forward, his little gloves a swinging . . . OOMPH! He was down. He didn't even get a punch in. My dad simply put out his glove and easily deflected my brother's attacks. My brother tried once more with the exact same results.
We were losing this game that neither of was even wanted to play. So I did what any little sissy girl would do, I put up my dukes and went in . . . OOMPH! My father knocked me down. I got up. He knocked me down again. I scooted away to a safe distance to lick my wounds.
He may have been kneeling, but we were at a very big disadvantage--he had super long arms. He just held them out and we couldn't even get near him. But we were determined.
So my brother and I came up with a plan--we would attack, together, at once. A very good plan. We counted to three (we did this out loud, our mistake) then we ran at our father . . . OOMPH! OOMPH!
We tried again. Same result. We tried everything, but couldn't land even one punch on our target--the guy who called himself Father. But we didn't want to give up, our frustration becoming our motivation to keep trying.
I don't know when it happened exactly, or even what exactly happened. I just remember my brother laying on the floor crying, more out of aggravation than hurt. My father crawled over to where he lay and pulled him into his lap to comfort him.
I watched from a distance. My frustration still sky high. My breathing rapid and eyes transfixed.
My father never said TIME OUT.
So I took that opportunity to sneak forward, one step at a time, casing my prey. My father never saw it coming because he had his back to me (a dirty move, I know), his gloves were off, but I didn't care.
I swung. I swung hard. A perfect uppercut to the nose and mouth. I did it! I DID IT!
Then I noticed the blood. Lots of it.
I had actually given my father a bloody lip--a bloody lip! Oh, boy. Not good. I looked at my gloves. I looked at his shocked face.
I was scared to death, certain he planned to kill me. His gloves were bigger than mine and he could do it too. I ripped off my gloves, threw them down, and took off to find somewhere to hide, somewhere he'd never find me--under my parents bed.
I don't know how long I stayed under there. I do remember telling my mother, who peeked under to see what I was doing, not to tell. She insisted my father was impressed with my punch, but I didn't believe her. I planned to live under the bed forever. He'd never know I was there.
Thirty plus years later, the details of what happened later are foggy. Obviously, he didn't kill me. And since I'm married with kids, I don't live under my parents bed. That would be weird. I'm not sure what happened to the three pairs of boxing gloves either (I figure my mother had something to do with their disappearance).
I hadn't thought about those boxing gloves in many, many years. I wonder if my brother and my father even remember. I will see them both later today at my nephews birthday party, so I will have to ask. Maybe I should have bought my nephew boxing gloves. I'm sure my brother would have thanked me.
It doesn't cease to amaze me how simple things can trigger memories. All it took was seeing a pair of kids boxing gloves to bring it all flooding back.