July 31, 1996
The Olympics are on tonight. Probably some sinewy Superhero chasing the clock for a chance at history, but Dad is here tonight, and we’re watching boxing.
I hate boxing. But, I love my Dad.
Everybody loves my Dad. Which is about time, because he’s the only person I know who would reach out to pet a snarling schnauzer on a chain and who, after getting his hand caught in the dog’s mouth, could say he found out he had some beautiful blood the color of beet juice. It’s about time, because he’s the only man I’ve ever known who can remember when he received his very first hug. He can describe it well because, well, it happened when he was ten years old.
The opponent of the challenger in tonight’s fight, according to Dad, had two days’ notice that he’d be in the ring at the Blue Horizon this evening. The guy who didn’t show, either he had the flu or he was in jail, could be anything, Dad said. Just like it could have been a man dressed up as a pilot going up to the cockpit with his briefcase – going through the airport, nobody’d notice – that put the bomb on the plane. This is just him thinking, he says.
Now this guy’s a good fightah – foreign country – he’ll surprise you. But now Rodney, he’s got personality. So, it could be anyone’s fight, Dad says tonight.
Activity is the key to boxing, the commentator begins. Dad says this is a very even match – not like much else in life, I’m thinking, which can be very uneven, like marriage, or life-expectancy, or success, or the edges of teeth after many years. Dad reminds me to clean out the refrigerator, if I’ve got any old stuff it’ll make the other food go bad. And, how old is my milk?
He tells me that, rest assured, he’ll take care of things while I’m gone on vacation, he’s already proved it. The guy across the street said he’d look out for the house but, Dad, he won’t rest on that.
The fighter from Uganda, he’s reserving himself until the later rounds, he’ll be stronger, Dad thinks. Uganda’s proud to be in America, proud to wear the American flag on his trunks, he appreciates the freedom of this country. So, a woman is his coach, so what’s the difference. Atsa gooda job he’s a make tonight.
Dad puts his shoes on when the fight is over, and will I put on a paper what I need him to do and put it out where he’s sure to see it. I put my arms around him, and smell his neck, and smoothe my hand across his back and feel my own, bigger body draping over his straight, small frame. He shows his fingers where the dog bit, and they are healed, and, as I watch the man who returned to my mother after ten years to marry her again and conceive me drive away in the dark, I am sure that I am the only-begotten daughter of a son of God.
© Ruth Ann Scanzillo
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