If you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough

20 Dec

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Alan´s grandfather was his hero. As he laid dying he gently pulled Alan toward him by his thin seven year old arm and whispered “Son, if you´re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough”

Alan didn´t really understand what his grandfather meant by these words for some years. When he did discover what he meant he thought his grandfather was a genius. Then after a quick Google search, he realized he was really a plagiarizer on his deathbed, but nonetheless, the words packed wisdom.

Alan was a terrible student. He got low grades in all subjects except physical education.  He could barely read well into his Junior High years. Alan was like a powerful Massarati sports car being driven by learning disabled child. The good thing for Alan was that he recognized this early. He made up his mind. He was going to be tough.

By fifteen years of age, Alan was already the equivalent of a Jiu Jitsu purple belt and was deadly proficient in Muay Thai. His coach was trying to get him to sign up for a local MMA tournament. The problem for Alan was, inscriptions were only for adults above the age of twenty one. If Alan kept his mouth shut, he could pass for man of twenty five. He weighed 200 pounds with next to no body fat and stood at 6 feet one inch. When his coach suggested he get a fake ID to enter Alan heard his grandfather whisper “…..you gotta be tough…” and agreed.

Alan had to make a drastic weight cut. His coach wanted him to fight at 180 pounds. He would have to lose 20 pounds in a week. “….you gotta be tough….” echoed through his head as he starved himself and went on three mile runs wearing makeshift sweat suits made of trash bags.

On the day of weigh-ins, Alan´s breath reeked of death. That´s because his body was on the brink of crossing over.  He was extremely dehydrated and malnourished. He made weight, drank water and immediately threw it up. His scheduled opponent weighed in 5 pounds overweight. There were no other fighters in the 180 pound class so he was asked if he would still accept the fight. The whisper of “…you gotta be tough…” once again propelled him to agree. His opponent did not have a dead look in his eyes like Alan. Unlike Alan, he did a scientific weight cut under the watchful eye of hired professionals.

On fight day, Alan was only able to put 7 pounds back on, weighing in at 187 sickly looking pounds. His opponent on the other hand hydrated correctly and weighed in at 205 pounds and looked like a muscular Greek statue. Alan still did not feel well. His opponent, on the other hand, felt the universe pulsing through his finely tuned body. He was ready to go, Alan was not. “….you gotta be tough….” Alan lipped these words as he entered the cage.

The first round started with a hard shin right on Alan´s temple. He passed out immediately. The judge did not notice that he passed out and did not stop the fight. His opponent dove on him punching him in the face three times. Instead of finishing the fight as intended, these punches only served to wake Alan up. He went into auto pilot as his training kicked in. He was extremely hurt as he closed his guard around the waist of his opponent. His opponent was shocked that Alan survived this initial attack. Any mere mortal would have only woken up in the locker room. Little did he, or anybody know, Alan wasn´t really awake. He was extremely concussed. Though his eyes were open, his cpu was not really on.

His opponent found a hole between Alan´s guard and rained elbows so hard that Alan´s head bounced off the canvas. After about five of these the referee had enough.  He stopped the fight. As his opponent celebrated his brutal victory, nobody noticed the foam forming around Alan´s mouth or that his eyes were rolled into the back of his head. As his body convulsed, his mind started to float toward the halogen lights in the rafters. The rafters disappeared but the light remained constant if not brighter.

As is over being announced over the P.A. system Alan heard a familiar voice say “You sure were tough, son. But I am afraid I steered you wrong.”

“No pop-pop” Alan answered “I was tough, the way I was supposed to be”

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4 Responses to “If you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough”

  1. Eric Tonningsen January 5, 2014 at 3:19 am #

    My Dad, a West Point grad and military officer gave me advice when I was growing up. Most of it I chose to ignore. I wasn’t going to be dumb. 🙂 Good story, Ryan!

    • Ryan January 5, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

      You sure don´t seem to have turned out so!!! 🙂 Thanks for reading and Happy New Year, Eric!

  2. kbeezyisviral January 5, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

    Death is the best present, and each one will effect you differently. We all have to go to judgment one day. I’m just glad his wisdom was soaked before it was too late. Keep up with the intriguing posts.

    • Ryan January 5, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

      Thank you my friend. And thanks for the interesting comment.

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