Saturday, April 28, 2007

We're not talking about banana pancakes

Yesterday I was headed to lunch with a bunch of male coworkers including one enormous ex-Army Ranger when another worker passed us and said, "You know, of everybody in that group the only one I'm afraid of is the little one," and he pointed at me.

I get that a lot. I think it's the boxing. Or maybe my general aggressive personality. But seriously, I'm a kitten. And just like a kitten, I will randomly go from curling up in your lap to attempting your destruction with my tiny paws for my own amusement. Now feed me.

My point is, I love boxing. I'm not very good at it yet, but I'm getting there. Technically I kickbox, but some days Trainer and I forego the kicking altogether and just hit each other. And I don't really like watching kickboxing. There's something about it that just doesn't get me jazzed the way a straight-up fist to the face does.

(For the record, the Golden Boy is going to stomp Pretty Boy's egotistical ass next Saturday.)

Boxing is a chess game for tough guys. There's so much to remember and avoid and you have to do the exact right thing at the exact right moment, and one false move can get your ass knocked out. You have to have a high threshold for pain and a massive amount of will power. Check on both counts for me.

But I'm never going to be a real fighter. Maybe one day someone will convince me to try an amateur fight, but I don't know if I want to risk my brain cells just to prove I can survive in the ring against a girl who probably grew up just west of the Jersey Turnpike and knows her way around a welding torch. For now Trainer works. He doesn't actually hurt me because I pay him an absurd percentage of my income.

So instead I've been trying to find ways to write about the sport. Partner and I have tossed around an idea or two but every time I come up with something we name a movie that already did it. Girlfight, Million Dollar Baby, Against the Ropes - those are all about women in the sport. Then there's Rocky and its sequels, Cinderella Man and Ali, and rumor has it somebody's making a film about the great Jack Johnson (the boxer, not the singer. Although I very much enjoy the singer, but don't want to see a movie about his life until he's done some time in rehab).

What's left to tell?

Then came the new project with the feature in chapters. I was assigned Billy and Valerie, two characters we created for Game Night who are a little on the tough side. One story will be about Billy, one about Valerie. So I was brainstorming and thinking about things I could do that will reveal elements of Billy's personality and throw out clues that will inch us toward the inevitable conclusion, when suddenly I remembered my obsession with boxing.

Billy is an amateur boxer. There. I got a whole backstory and a front story and a reason why he has to be a boxer or the whole story is ruined. And because it's part of a larger story and only one chapter of the tale, it doesn't just rehash things that have already been written about the sport. Plus I found a cool way to tell the story that's never been done.

It fits perfectly and makes me ever so happy because vicarious living is what writing is all about. Now I get to be a boxer too. Unfortunately for us both our opponent is going to knock our ass out. But that's the way the story goes. There's nothing I can do about it.

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