Floats like a butterfly, stings like a butterfly

I caught a glimpse of a punching bag in a sports shop window the other day and a long-forgotten memory came screaming back. I was about ten, I think, and I’d just seen Rocky for the first time. I loved it, the training, the slurring, the beanie-wearing, the idea that a person could overcome some of the obstacles in life by punching them really hard. At last, I thought, my long search is over – I’ll become a professional boxer. So I spent a couple of happy days walking around in a towelling dressing-gown while knocking my fists together, ducking, and breathing funny. The path before me was clear. I would join a gym (run-down but, dammit, honest) where I would meet a leathery old-timer (Ernie or possibly Gus) who thought he’d seen it all. He’d take me under his wing (“You got what it takes, kid”) and give me a rugged nickname of some kind. Before long I’d be overcoming the crap out of lesser talents and wondering who might play me in the biopic. But then I remembered that boxing involved getting hit, sometimes in the face. I checked my list of Things You Should Try to Avoid and there it was, number fourteen – “Getting hit in the face.” I dropped the boxing ruse like a hot turd and went back to pondering what the flowers might wish for if only they could talk. But now I find myself wondering how things would have worked out if I’d actually, you know, tried it. Maybe I would have found my niche. Maybe I would have discovered a natural sense of balance and poise that I didn’t even know was there. Maybe I would have … no, wait. Hang on. I’ve just remembered the getting hit part again. Head like a sieve, me.

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