The Punch

It was hands down the best punch that I had ever thrown. The only problem with it is that my brother didn’t go down.

He staggered, looked a little dazed. But he didn’t go down and I knew that I was going to be in a little trouble here. That was my best shot, I got nothing else.

This would have been in the summer before my last year of high school. I was a football player and this was my complete life. I wouldn’t consider myself the standard jock or a nerd or even the massively cool ladies man that I have become since then. I didn’t go to parties, dances or to the old quarry. Not that we had one but in all the movies that I see about this time period always has a group of boys going down to the old quarry. I didn’t drink, I didn’t do drugs and didn’t cause trouble.

It was not that I had a high moral objection to any of this. It was because everything I did involved football during that time period of my life. I had friends and was friendly with everyone. Hell, my two best friends didn’t even play football. But I was a straight arrow because I wanted to so bad play at Texas Stadium in the State Football Playoffs.

So I worked out. All the time. When I wasn’t working out, I was playing video games. If I wasn’t doing either of those, then I was sleeping. That was my life that summer. I was working at a pizza place which was the ultimate job as a 17 year old. All the free pizza you want, good tips from the ladies who liked the cut of my jib and plenty of free time.

My brother and I had gone up to the local stadium with two other friends to run stairs. This was part of my conditioning that my coach had given me and so I did it. I never questioned my coach because he was one of those that would have no problem pummeling you should you talk back. The town people seemed to have no problem with this. Neither do I.

We had just completed running our sets around midnight and we were walking back to the parking lot. That’s when my brother noticed that I was wearing his shoes. This was the catalyst for the punch of my life.

My brother and I had always fought. Not the sissy wrestling stuff but the full on fist fights that only good southern boys know how to do. There was no “don’t hit the face” rules or any crap like that. We fought dirty. Hair pulling, biting or maybe an eye gouge. It was all good to go. No ball shots though, that’s just a matter of respect.

My brother sees that I am wearing his shoes and this sets him off. He was 19 and I was 17. He had always had a temper and out of all the people in the world, I am about the only one that really knows how to set it off. I know him better than he knows himself and would often get him going just because I could. It’s a toadie’s only true power and make no mistake about it, I was toadie numero uno.

Immediately as he starts to yell at me I know where this is going. I know that there is going to be a fight. I know that I am about to get punched. But at the time, I wasn’t exactly a small kid anymore. I knew I knew how to fight and had a good 40 pounds on my brother. I knew that first he would push me, I would push him, we would bump chests a few times refusing to back down and then he would punch me. I was ready for it this time.

He came up and pushed me and that is when I unleashed the greatest haymaker of my entire life. It was Ali-esk. It was the phantom shot that sent down Joe Frazier. It was the Tyson uppercut that shatters dreams and brains. It was a thing of beauty.

It landed flush with the left side of his jaw. It was one of those great punches where you can actually hear the smack and see the imprint of knuckles. His head snapped back giving him a severe case of crapola. He staggered. I thought I might have seen a knee buckle, maybe even a little dip in his stance. But he didn’t go down. The rat bastard didn’t drop. This punch would have taken out Hulk Hogan, even when he gets that patented second wind. But my brother took my best shot and stood there. This is not good.

I may have been stronger than my brother but he was faster. He was on me like a 35 year old single woman looking for a husband, I couldn’t keep him off me.

He immediately landed 4 or 5 punches to my face and the fight was full on. I returned my blows. They were good, but not as good as my first one. I was a little off balanced and was fighting more defensive.

My brother tackled me in the parking lot and down we went. This is his move. This is what he always does. He tackles me and gets on top and the pummeling begins. But I wouldn’t let him pin my arms this time. I was kicking and throwing punches of my own. I would have bitten him if given the chance, I have no shame in admitting this. For every one of my punches that landed 4 of his would land first. My had more power but he had more frequency.

At about this time, with my brother on top of me and me kicking like it’s the final leg of the swim trials, our two friends jump in. They are screaming “you’re brothers! You’re brothers!” We know this, that is why we are fighting. In their fever to pull us off each other they take a couple shots themselves. I don’t feel bad about this because that is the consequence of loving me, you might get punched. They put themselves in the middle and acted admirably. They kept pulling and pulling. Eventually they got us off each other and we all went to our cars to drive home.

I was stoked because of “The Punch” as it has since become known. I had a black eye that got that nice blood in the pupil look. I had a cut on my forehead and my hand hurt a little but overall I didn’t look too bad. Even though I had ended up on my back, yet again, I had landed The Punch.

Normally when my brother and I fight we make up within 10 minutes. It’s the way it has always been. We have fought so many times like this that you would be amazed to hear that we were always best friends, with unquestioned loyalty. This time though my brother didn’t talk to me for 3 days and that was scary.

My Mom was still up when we got home and saw my brother. His jaw was swollen to the size of a prostate tumor. She thought I had broken it and there was a part of me that was a little proud of this. I was in one of my over confidence/cocky stages and I admit that this was my thought. It wasn’t broken but it looked pretty damn good if I do say so myself.

My Mom was very pissed. Not only had brothers beaten the crap out of each other but we did it when we had a wedding to go to in 3 days. My brother was in the wedding. It was my cousins.

I slept on the couch rather than in our shared room for those three days. We went to the wedding but my brother drove his own car while I drove with my parents. My cousin sees us both with black eyes and can’t believe the story she is hearing. How the hell could we do this before her wedding? Didn’t we know that there would be pictures?? My brother and I were to be in the pictures.

And so we took the pictures, forever immortalizing The Punch. You can see our matching black eyes in them. Everyone knew what happened but I don’t think anyone could appreciate this. Believe it or not, the fight brought us closer than before which is weird because we were so tight before it. At the end of the wedding my brother came over and we both did the aw shucks dance and that was it. No more hard feelings.

This fight goes down as the best match up between us in the history of our fistfights. There have been some good ones, including the one where my brother threw a screwdriver at me and it stuck in the wall by my neck instead or when I broke a hand mirror over his head. You may think that it is odd that we have done this and are still best friends but then you just don’t understand brothers or guys. There are no grudges, there are no hurt feelings but just a little bit of pride that we could take our beatings.

My brother and I talk about this fight often and relieve each punch. I think that he is a little bit proud that his little brother landed the haymaker in the first place. My wife can never understand this and thinks that the whole thing was foolish. I try to equate it to the social manipulation that women pull to make other’s think that your friend is a whore, but it does no good.

But the punch will always be one of my best memories of growing up. I may be having a son this time and when he is ready, I will tell him this story. We will be in the back room, away from my wife’s ears and we will speak in hushed tones. My brother will be there and we will re-enact it for them like it was the Death Star battle. And in the end, we will all be a closer family because of it.

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