23 April 2006


My favorite mittens when I was in elementary school, 3rd or 4th grade, were navy and made of a slick material that made them mostly waterproof and good for playing in the snow. Ample padding made them warm, but it also made them resemble boxing gloves. The latter trait did not pass unnoticed by me and my classmate Hammerhead, who had his own pair in maroon. It was an opportunity too good to pass up.

At recess, we bundled up, put on our mittens, and went outside to box. We stood far enough apart that there was no contact as we threw our slow-motion punches. He'd swing his head to one side as if he'd been hit, and then I would do the same for his return punch. Fists up, jab, roundhouse, stomach punch, uppercut, bob and weave.

I had just started to throw what I think of as a traditional punch, cocking my right elbow back before straightening my arm. In the middle of my slow swing, someone called my name. As I turned my head to the right to see who it was, my fist kept traveling forward (possibly a little faster)... until it stopped with a gentle tap. When I turned back to face Hammerhead, he was falling. He hit the ground, grabbed his nose, and started to cry. Did I mention the crying? Yeah, so I looked around in a slight panic for the teacher who monitored recess. Mrs. N was a ways off with her back to us, so I took off. I felt certain I hadn't hit him that hard, and I knew it was an accident, but with him crying on the asphalt, I knew it didn't look good, and I didn't want to get in trouble.

He either recovered or was too embarrassed because no one ever said anything to me about it. The only way I could've reached far enough to touch him was if he stepped forward or leaned into the punch. Hammerhead may have originated as a variation of his surname, but I was beginning to see how well it really suited him. Years later, his exploits were capped with the "best dressed" honor in the yearbook, a by-product of his many court appearances.

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  1. Don't you come near me, you big meanie!

  2. In sixth grade, I think, boy T in my class had been teasing me about the protrudings on my chest (...) during recess, and in class - before the teacher showed up - he grabbed at them. Ouch. So (naturally...) I hit him in the head with my ruler. Which was wooden, but with lead through the middle. He passed out. And just then the teacher arrived. I was sure I'd be put away forever...

    T got up - really woozy - did not look at me, and told the teacher "I fell" and sat down. He never bothered me again...

  3. Girlgoyle and Kevin: I expected to hear as much.

    Scholiast: Now that's a real knockout. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

  4. "a by-product of his many court appearances" ha ha ha. good one!