“What did you have for breakfast Danny?” That question was posed to me by Dr. Good as I lay supine or better yet splayed out flat upon my back on our family red cloth living room couch.
I heard his voice before I regained consciousness from my “Never Neverland of the long goodnight”. Dr. Good shined a small bright beam of light into my eyes as he individually lifted each of my eyelids. The backlighted shadowy figures behind the good doctor (shoes name was really Dr. Good) were my tribe (seven in all) of younger brothers and sisters with my dad and mom in the mix. The small gathering was a cloister of concern for yours truly.
How I arrived on the couch with the house call doc was beyond my 12-year-old brain’s memory. Thus the question of what did I have for breakfast beckoned me to answer:
“ French toast with cinnamon”.
It was late in the afternoon and breakfast was several hours earlier. The time after my Saturday morning bowl of Cheerios to being planted on the living room sofa was a mysterious void of time to young Gumshoe.
This drama started a few days prior when I was bullied and pushed around at school by several older and taller upperclassmen who hailed from the Neanderthal branch of their respective dystopian families. Evolution at its worst from the shallow end of the gene pool I suppose.
I confessed this sad tale to my father who told me that I had to learn how to punch.
You see folks my dad loved watching the “Friday Night” boxing fights on our black and white TV with the antenna rabbit ears that we adjusted for him as human remote controls for the best reception.
No problem! My father Dominic who knew a thing or two about boxing from his days growing up on the rough side of Pittsburgh took me down to our basement. He packed his old canvass duffel bag with heavy cloth drop cloths. He then deftly hung the jury-rigged punching bag from a roof beam below the basement steps.
Dad then showed me how to stand; how to close my fist and how to step into the bag with my punch. I threw a few punches until my knuckles were rubbed raw. I decided that I would practice more come Saturday morning.
I later learned from my mom that I had wandered down to the basement to practice what dad had taught me on that fateful Saturday morn. “Rocky” in the making! My other siblings were preoccupied watching the Saturday TV cartoons.
Sometime thereafter, one of my brothers came downstairs and discovered me unconscious and laying akimbo on the concrete floor beneath the stilled duffle bag. I had apparently punched the duffle with my unabashed youthful enthusiasm and the duffle had swiftly responded in kind by swinging back and knocking me out. Duffle 1 and Gumshoe 0.
Now let’s fast forward to the Budokan (Martial Arts Hall) in Tokyo, Japan in 1969. Gumshoe was a member of the USMC Shotokan Karate Team at the International Tournament as a freshly minted black belt in the art. The Budokan holds about 8,000 aficionados. My sensei (teacher instructor) Hitoshi Okiama advised me in his very limited English advised me that my sparing match would start when I and my opponent would mutually bow to one another.
Sensei Okiama failed to let me know (or I probably failed to listen or understand) that I should let my opponent rise up from his bow to start the match etiquette. Gumshoe bowed to my opponent and he bowed to me. Gumshoe immediately planted his right instep via a roundhouse kick to the side of my opponent’s noggin as he raised his head.
“Wack!” Lights out for my unsuspecting opponent who crumbled to the mat.
The arena of 8,000 fell deathly silent as the referee pointed to my sensei who quickly escorted me off of the mat and back into the dressing room before Wake Island was reenacted. Gumshoe was disqualified for what I thought was a great knockout. However, the “Loss of face” was evident for violating the sparring protocol.
I later met my conscious (and uninjured) opponent and I bowed and apologized to him in my limited Japanese. He graciously bowed and we shook hands. I presented him with a Marine Corps patch as a peace offering and to also serve as a reminder of our unfortunate meeting.
If I only could have explained to him how Gumshoe had sustained a KO by a duffle bag and how that was a loss of face to Gumshoe.
That’s my tale kind readers. Always remember to love the ones who love you and try to love the ones who don’t.
Note: Remember to always bow properly and to keep your eyes open!