Sunday, March 15, 2009

Boxing with Pink Shorts

A few years ago, we were planning a rather big vacation where we would pick up our nephew and his wife from the airport in LA and then spend a week with them putting together as much as we could to highlight their trip. We looked around for a fitting vehicle that I figured that we could buy and then sell after the trip. At least, that was the plan. We purchased a conversion van from a fellow in Sisters and got it ready for the trip. It had everything in it, a TV, head phone plugs throughout, plush seats, and the back seats folded down electrically into a queen size bed. It even had a built in safe. We were going to vacation in style.

The first part of the trip, for me, however was not one of great fun. From the first night out, my anxiety problems began to heighten. The pills that I had been given years back were not helping out as they had before. I struggled with a lack of sleep and the physical and emotional effects of the various attacks. During the day, while the family enjoyed various parks and entertainment, I spent as much time as I could napping in the back of the van just to keep up my strength. The worst part of the trip was when I woke up in the back of the van where I had been napping while they were in the San Diego Zoo. At first, I did not know where I was or why I was there. I pulled myself together piece by piece by first looking at my surroundings and realizing that I was in the back of my van. Then I looked outside to try and figure out where I was. I saw a sign at the end of the row of vehicles that showed me that I was at the zoo. It was then that I realized where I was and why. The van became kind of my spot where I could find a piece of my life that was the did not change. It was a good week into the vacation before the van and a repetition of taking a walk early in the morning along with day long sleep while at Magic Mountain the anxiety just disappeared and I was able to enjoy the last part of the trip in Vegas. I remember Judy commenting that it was good to see me eating and me telling her that it was good to have an appetite. Through it all and because of it all, I became very attached to the van. The smell of it, the comfort of the reclining seats, and the comforting feel of it's protection around me.

Arriving home, it was parked and not used much except for special occasions. Frank and I used it a few times, once to take our daughters and their dates to a dance. We took them to various fast food establishments and gave them a dollar each letting them pick from the dollar menus. We then took them back to Jake's to a candle light dinner with their purchased food in the back room. We arrived at the dance with two lit Tiki torches attached to the front of the van. As we pulled up to the dance, Frank jumped out and laid out a red carpet for the kids to walk on as they entered the dance.

Years later after taking over the diner and moving it to it's new location, Frank and I took turns sleeping in the back of the van while I waited for the security people to install our security after our safe was robbed. It became our watch dog van.

I had tried from time to time to sell it but we just could not find the buyer. Then one day, Richard from the boxing club, Deschutes County Rocks, walked in the door interested in buying it for his club. As I sat their listening to him tell me of young lives that had been affected by the boxing club, a small voice began to talk to me and I knew what I needed to do. Turning over the pink slip and signing it, I turned to Richard and said, "I am not going to sell you my van.....I am giving it to you.". His face dropped as I began to speak and then went into a shocked look. "I am prepared to pay for it.", he said. "No, this is what I need to do.", I returned. I remember my accountant telling me that I could sell it for a couple of thousand and make more money than I would get by a reduction of taxes in giving it away. But I felt good about it and knew that it was the right thing to do. That was four years ago.

Friday night, I drove into the parking lot of the fair grounds with a car load of guys to watch the first night of the golden glove boxing event there. We pulled up behind the van now sporting the logos of the club on it's side and with a large "Fueled by Jake's" sticker on it's spare tire in the back. Frank and I looked in the windows and reminisced of old days and trips that we had taken in it. He told one of the guys that it had been his apartment for a while a few years back. Jayden said, "Papa, when you gave it away, I was very mad at you for a while. I loved this van.".

The five of us walked into the event center and found ourselves a seat while we waited for the first fight to begin. We watched as Chaz shadowed boxed in the corner with his headphones on, preparing himself for his fight.

The fight card started and I watched the young men spar as they attempted to gain entry to the second night of championships. Chaz was the fourth event and he came out strong taking the first round but then seemed to lose his strength a little which in turn spurred his opponent on who took the next two rounds and the fight.

In the middle of Chaz's fight, I felt the vibration of my phone and went to the quietest corner of the center to attempt to answer it. It was the diner who was very busy asking me to come down and help. "I am sorry guys", was all I could say, "You are on your own this time. I have five guys counting on me for their ride. Besides, by the time I got to you from Redmond, you will be past the rush.". I felt bad but also realize that there are just sometimes that I cannot be that back up in those crazy times. I could only hope that no customer was affected adversely.

As the fight card progressed, I watched as other fighters began to prepare for their turn. I noticed a more middle aged fighter over in the corner. It was really very easy to notice him as he rather stuck out from the rest. First off, his milky white skin that seemed to shine out brightly from all of the rest of the primarily Mexican or Native American fighters. And then there was the pot belly that sort of seemed out of place from the other solid, strong, flat bellied competitors. But it was the shorts that really made him stand out. They were pink with numbers on the front of them. I wondered if he had purchased them from Goodwill or something. Next to him with a towel around his neck was a rather large older man who kind of looked like one of those guys who would come into the diner and order up two long haulers with a diet Pepsi. The two of them just looked out of place. My first thought was that he was a father who was trying to embarrass his son.

Chaz stopped by to tell us that he was trying to find another fighter to fight him in one of the early rounds of the next night. "Maybe you should ask old pink shorts back there.", I quipped. "He really is a fighter.", Chaz returned, "He is out of Tillamook and is one of the later rounds tonight The man next to him is his father and coach.". "Who is his sponsor, the Cheese factory.", I joked. I honestly thought that it was a hoax.

The events progressed and just before the heavy weights came up, their was a fight with a tall long armed young man and a rather strong but shorter opponent. The parents of the taller boy were seated behind us and as the fight started became quite vocal, yelling at the ref and stating that the smaller man was holding and cheating and then egging on their son to get in their and beat him up. I watched as the smaller guy did have a struggle getting in close enough to get some good punches in but most every one of his holds seemed to be accompanied by the same hold from the taller young man who I felt he was soundly beating. After the third and final round, the mother screamed at the judges telling them that they must pick the blue corner and restating that the red corner had been cheating. "You know that the blue corner is the better fighter and that he won.", she yelled. We all agreed that we felt that the red corner had done the better job. But, the judges must have heard her and gave the fight to the blue. Boos went of from all angles of the event center as others obviously agreed with me and the parents behind me quickly packed up their things and grabbed their fighter and left with their jobs done for the night.

The next round was the heavy weights.....211+. Pink shorts came through the ropes and settled into the red corner with his father, trainer, coach behind him. Into the ring in the blue corner came a rather large Native American fighter and oh, was he big. He was big in every part of his body from his large head, thick neck, broad shoulders, huge arms, big hands, massive trunk, and strong stocky legs. There was no grin on his face just a look of determination and anger. It looked like the miss match of the century. One of my party commented on the size of the blue fighter. We figured that if he got in one good punch that it might be over. I turned and quipped, "This is like some Saturday night Live skit.". Pink shorts took that first punch but the second one knocked him down and into his corner. Pink shorts arms flailed up and he yelled, "Stop the fight.". The massive blue corner guy backed back into his corner with out breaking a sweat. Pinkie then began complaining of his left knee. Apparently, he had twisted it from falling back into his corner. He was helped down to the chairs and given ice for his knee. Now, if I had hurt my knee like that, I would probably sit still while keeping it iced until it was time to leave. But old pink shorts jumped up and limped back and forth talking to various other people. I wondered if it was for sympathy or if he was just trying to explain why he had been defeated so quickly.

If you ask me, he was lucky he went down so fast. And if I was to suggest anything to help this fighter, I would probably come up with three things. First off, prepare yourself better. If you are honestly prepared for a fight, you will not have a beer belly. Two, you might want to hit a tanning booth a couple of times just to take the glow of the white skin off a little. And thirdly and most important, burn those Pink shorts.

All in all, it was a great night. A night of fun with some of the guys. A evening of entertainment. A time of reminiscing. And another bonding time with my little buddy and grandson, Jayden.

1 comment:

Jake said...

As always, great story, Lyle.