Getting punched in the face is not really fun.

I know you may be skeptical, but hear me out. I have some inside info in that I got punched in the face once. I grew up in the 70’s/80’s of small town Tennessee. I played football. I played “smear the queer”. (Don’t hate me, I didn’t come up with that last one). So one would have thought that I was prepared for the sensation. Not as much as you might think.

Being a “big dude” I have this general air of someone not to mess with. Trust me, it is all plumage. I’m just a big ole teddy bear. Well, in my early 20’s I was a teddy bear that worked out more and had even more plumage. So I tended to avoid fights by just being a big dude with a long fuse.

I was working at my first job out of college and I was making friends and having fun. There was a guy who I worked with called “Big Tim”. I wouldn’t even bring up his name except to point out that “Big Tim” was not one of these ironic nicknames like calling me “Tiny” or “Slim”.

BT threw a really fun crawfish boil every spring and they were a good time. Family atmosphere, good crawfish and plenty of beer. The second one I ever went to was quite a day. Yes, the beer flowed like wine that day.

At some point, a dog wandered up without a collar. He seemed friendly enough, but BT was concerned about an unknown dog around the kids at the party, so he put him in a kennel to control the situation. My wife(*at the time) was quite a dog lover. Like obnoxiously so and I say that as a pretty obnoxious dog lover myself.

As the party wound down and the scene thinned out, my wife* begged me to convince BT to let the dog out of the kennel. “OK, but keep him away from those kids!”. No worries. Cut to 2 minutes later as the kids flock to the newly released dog who was quite excited to taste some newfound freedom.

“I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO KEEP THAT DOG AWAY FROM THOSE KIDS!!” Hey man, it’s all good. The dog is really friendly and he is just happy to be getting some loving. SHOVE! A strong two handed push to the chest which is the slap of thin glove across the face to those drinking Bud Light all day.

Now I’m a lover, not a fighter. I usually just let my good looks and considerable charm get me out of most situations. So, as I am composing myself to try to Jedi mind trick BT into not killing me, my wife* comes charging in like the Tasmanian devil from the cartoons. BT catches her and kind of redirects her around him at which point I had to play the “hey man, don’t throw my wife around like that” card and push him back. (Note: never push them back. Either turn the other cheek or punch them in the nose, which ever way the Spirit leads you)

BT threw a straight right punch and him me squarely in the mouth. Hard. It rocked me back pretty good and with all of my might I spit blood in his driveway and left. The rest of the night was quite a blur. I had drank several cold beverages myself at that point, so it was time to call it a night.

Apparently after we made our departure, there was a card table flipped, words exchanged. I don’t know the details, because I was at home nursing a probable concussion and admiring my imminent lip scar. But like most of my scars, you can’t see it unless I want to show it to you.

After that the story kind of goes into suburban blandness. He felt bad and bought me lunch and apologized. My lip was still too tender to enjoy the chicken. All was forgiven.

A few month’s later my wife* and I headed back to Tennessee for a new promising job. After that comedy of tragedies ended, it was BT who reached out to my old hiring manager and helped me get my first contract job. It was BT who let me crash at his house for a month while I found a new apartment and tried to remember what it was like to be single again.

So he helped me kick off a career that has been sometimes fun, sometimes terrifying and often very mundane. But a good career, nonetheless. I found love again (happy endings can happen) and I am now a quite busy father of three.

But I tell you, getting punched in the face like that can make you re-evaluate some things. I had always wanted to take karate as a child. When I finally felt settled in and my children were young I went for it. I got my black belt in American Kenpo. (Ed Parker shoutout, bet you didn’t see that coming). It was good for my health and my state of mind. Good times. It is like yoga where you get to hit people at the end. I don’t pretend to be a badass and I certainly don’t want to throw down with a highly trained fighter, but if some drunk asshole throws a right at me, I know several ways of addressing that.

I recently started back at that same company for the fifth time now. It’s funny how familiar yet older all the faces look after 20 years. BT has built a good career for himself at the one company where I have sort of been more fluid in my path, yet here we are both mature and happy and living the suburban American dream.

And one day, as BT is waiting for a copy to come out of the machine, I think it would be funny to punch him right in the face and over his prostrate body yell “Served Cold, bitch!”

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