Young boxers

The phrase “son of a bitch” had been part of my vocabulary for at least two years befpre i first got to use it.

In Grade 5, I was attending middle school in Dearborn, Michigan. It was the only year of my life spent in the US of A. We were there so my mother could deliver my brother. But then the Gulf War erupted, and we were stuck.

In October of that year, a couple of months into the academic year, I got into a verbal altercation with one of my classmates.

While I don’t remember his name, I do remember he was tall, quiet, and one of the nicer, less threatening kids in class. You could even say he was a friend.

So, as we argued over something most likely insignificant, and as the insults began, the opportunity presented itself for me to throw in my piece:

“You’re a son of a bitch.” Just like that, nothing more.

But it struck a chord with this guy. He took it extremely personally and became furious. That’s when I realized, for the first time, that the phrase actually insults a person’s mother.

With his mother’s honor now in need of defense, he tells me to meet him outside in the park after school where he, I quote, will kick my ass. I’d never been in a fight before and I was actually looking forward to it. I thought fighting was easy. I’ve seen it in cartoons and movies.

Photo by NEOSiAM 2020 from Pexels

After school, some kids gathered around to watch the fight, as kids do. He was already standing in the middle of the circle of people. I walked up to him and held up my fists like he was doing. We were 11 and we were going to fight like a couple of boxers or something.

Now remember that I liked this guy. He was a nice guy. I didn’t expect the fight to happen, to be honest.

As soon as I got close enough to him, he threw the first (and only) punch of the fight. Straight at my left eye.

“Alright, stop. I’m sorry, man. You win,” I said. And I walked off.

He let me leave. The crowd booed because we didn’t give them what they came to see. Blood.

Before you call me a coward, here’s my train of thought as soon as that punch made contact with my eye:

Oh shit, this is going to bruise. I’m gonna get a black eye. My mother is gonna see it. She’s gonna ask me what happened. I’m gonna tell her I got into a fight. She’s gonna ask me why it happened, and I’m gonna tell her that I called someone a son of a bitch. She’s gonna get angry and whip my ass. I better get home and ice this before it bruises.

As an Arab kid, I was more afraid of my mother kicking my butt than I was of the fight.

Ok, now you may call me a coward.

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