Nobody

Nobody ★★★★

I was a bit of a scrapper in my misspent youth. My brothers and I went at it practically every day, so when outside challenges were thrown my way, I never hesitated to accept them, and, as a result of my daily regimen, usually did alright for myself.

Watching Nobody brought to mind a few of those fights, and got me wondering which of them would play best as a sequence in a film. Now, I’m obviously going to pick one where I’m the noble hero, fighting for love and honor, so let’s go with this brawl from the eighth grade, a lively encounter, though one with a decidedly less cinematic ending.

I’d started going out with this girl, Mandi Sassaman, who had quite a following, and from the first day of our courtship, I was bombarded with challenges from would-be suitors. It’d always begin the same way, some toady would approach me and say:

“[Such and such] heard you’ve been talking shit about him.”

I’d respond with, “I’m sorry, but [such and such] heard wrong. In fact, I don’t even know who [such and such] is.”

“Well, [such and such] wants to meet you behind C-mart at 3:00.”

And so I’d shrug and meet [such and such] behind C-mart at 3:00, where... aggressive negotiations would ensue.

This happened enough times to make Mandi wonder just what sort of bronco she’d hitched her wagon to, and she informed me that if I got into another fight, we were quits. I vowed to comply.

Mandi was a girl worth not fighting for.

A few nights later, at a school dance, my resolve was put to the test. 

One of the toadies, Paul Hernandez, was apparently upset that I’d roughed up some of his boys, and confronted me with a bold variation on the standard line:

“I hear you’ve been talking shit about ME!”

Mandi and I had been having a pretty good laugh trying to figure out if we should dance fast or slow to Love and Rockets’ I'm Alive and Paul’s brash intrusion completely ruined the moment. 

Mandi was not impressed.

“Really? This again?” She pulled away from me.

I moved towards Paul. I was at least six inches taller than him. “Man... Fuck off. I don’t want to fight you.”

I started to turn back to Mandi and Paul swung at me. His knuckles scraped hard across my cheek. 

I fought the urge to strike back, held my hand to my face, and looked over to Mandi. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. “What do you want me to do?”

Her eyes moved to Paul, who stood firmly, braced to receive my response, and then back to me.

“Kick his ass.”

I charged Paul and tackled him to the ground - not what I’d intended to do, but my goddamn penny loafers had slipped. We went down hard, and I heard the impact of the fall knock the wind clean out of him. As he struggled to catch his breath, I unsportingly took advantage of the opening and went to work, pummelling the helpless bastard (*sigh* so much for honor). After a few seconds, the principal (the scariest man I’ve ever known, named - I shit you not - Mr. Krueger) parted the crowd and tore me up by my hair. He reached down, lifted Paul off the ground as well, and dragged both of us into his office. I looked back at Mandi, tried to draw her gaze, but only caught a glimpse of her turning away. 

She broke up with me the next morning. 

I pleaded with her on the phone, I swore I’d never fight again: “I’m a lover, not a fighter!” She hung up on me and my sad cliche. I held the phone in my hand, shellshocked, until the off-hook tone roused me from my stupor. I’d meant it. I was reformed, reborn. I was a lover... only now... I had no one to love.

It was the last time I ever fought.

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