Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fight Night 2007

I went to the gym right after work, and Barry put me to work giving out the T-shirts made up for Loyola Park's Boxing Explosion show. There were red and blue shirts of different sizes. The owner of the Heartland Cafe had donated food for the officials and coaches, and I also helped carry that in. Very tasty spread. Barry also ordered pizzas from Alberto's.

Mort had been tracked down, and he was there for his match. J.J. did not have a match, although Alan, one of the officials, thought he should have. Larry, Lorell, Alex, and Luke, had fights, and so did Mike.

I sang the National Anthem. You know that middle part in the song that goes very high? I hit the wrong note coming in, but managed to recover. It's a good thing I started that song on a very low note, or else that would have really sounded horrible.

Once the matches began, I positioned myself at ringside with the camcorder that Les allowed me to borrow from the office. Mike gave me his digital camera to catch his match. Unfortunately, the batteries ran out on his camera, and I couldn't get a fresh set in quick enough to catch the rest of the bout, which he won. I was lucky that I had enough time to record the other matches, considering I forgot to set the tape from SP to LP. Just in case, I didn't tape most of the second round of Larry's fight, so I could get all of the third round in. Larry also won his match. All of the guys were victorious that evening, except for little Luke. The awards for best boxers were given out near the end, and Diego won one of them.

After the fights were over, a dark-haired woman came up to me and introduced herself. She was J, who has her own blog, and often puts entries on The Broken Heart of Rogers Park blog. It was nice to meet her and her fiance. Neither one of them had ever seen a live boxing match before, and they enjoyed it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

New Folks, Fall 2007

There were five newcomers to the gym last night, and I met all of them except for one guy who came in later. He talked with Steve, then left about 15 minutes later. The other four -- Andy, Mary, Amy, and Erin -- didn't all stay for the full time, either. After giving them a brief introduction to the program, Steve explained that he had to work with the guys who have matches coming up Friday at the boxing show. I told the four that I would start them off with learning how to stand, how to hold their hands, and how to throw the left jab. Andy and Amy decided they would come in next Wednesday, while Mary and Erin warmed up for the lesson.

Erin seemed very interested in learning. She kept expressing how "cool" everything was. Mary admitted that she had been in fights as a kid. Mary's husband hovered outside of the door of the gym, holding their very cute four-month-old daughter. Interpersed between the lessons, was me talking at length about amateur boxing licenses, equipment, sparring and competing.

The main bad thing about the fall session is that is always starts right before the field house's boxing show, or "Boxing Explosion", as it is called. The new people get only one day that week, and then the gym is closed for business due to the show. It always serves as a test, however, of who will stick with it. Some are thrown off by the boxing show, and then they don't return again.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Picture Test

I wanted to check if I could post some pictures on this blog. It appears that some I can, and some I can't. These made it up; I'll have to see why it seems difficult to add others. I didn't like the TV show "The A-Team", but I did like Mr. T's character in the film Rocky III.

Notice To Those In Rogers Park

I'm posting this as a favor and to get the word out to those who live in Rogers Park, Chicago, IL:

As local elected officials, we have an obligation to our constituents to provide them with a voice in Springfield. This year, we spoke with many local groups and organizations about their needs and concerns to help deliver improved services.When crafted a new state budget, we worked to pass a responsible spending plan that serves those most in need, including persons with disabilities, immigrant and refugee families, the homeless and individuals suffering from AIDS. Further, we worked to provide needed funding for local schools, park districts, fire stations, municipalities, economic development and to assist our senior citizens.This funding was secured in order to provide our most needy residents with the services they rely on. However, Gov. Rod Blagojevich disagreed. He not only cut these crucial local projects from the budget, but in doing so he insulted the integrity of many worthy community groups by labeling the funding as 'pork'.

Now the ability of these organizations to provide needed programs to the families they serve has been severely damaged.We are hosting a community forum at 7pm on Thursday, Sept. 27, at the Mundelein Center Auditorium of Loyola University, 1020 W. Sheridan Road to hear from area community organizations and local governments about how the governor's harmful budget cuts may affect their operations and ability to provide services.We encourage anyone who is concerned about the loss of these needed projects to attend this hearing. It is important that we build the necessary support for an override of the governor's vetoes, and your attendance at this forum can help build the necessary momentum. We look forward to seeing you there.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Volunteer Pugalists

Yesterday, on Sunday, I went to the Palmer House Hotel downtown to attend a information meeting. It was for people who signed up to volunteer with the World Boxing Championships that are coming to Chicago late next month. The organizers kept impressing how important it was that the volunteers put their best foot forward. "You will be the face of Chicago to the boxers who are coming in from the other countries," one of the organizers said.

We were shown a short video of Olympic hopefuls, including a kid who boxed. I couldn't tell what gym he was from, or even if the gym was located in the city. Information was passed out, and there was a lengthy discussion of what was needed to help the event be a success. I talked to the guy who is the head of the competition/training portion afterwards. He indicated that there is an evening portion, which was good. The event needs volunteers heavily during the day, and unfortunately, I can't take off during the days.

Mike Q. and Barry were there, and they talked with that guy, too. Barry told me that JJ won a fight he had out in Benton Harbor, MI over the weekend. JJ knocked his opponent out in the third round. It was similar to the knockout he gave his opponent at Hollywood Casino last week, coming near the end of the round.

Wednesday is the beginning of the Fall session, which means newcomers in the gym. That also means that Steve may or may not have time to work with them, since the Loyola Park boxing show is Friday. I believe JJ and Mike have matches that day, and I thought I heard Steve say that Mort was scheduled for one, too. He'll probably spend that time getting them ready, while I help the newcomers.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Repetitive Injury

My upper left arm had been hurting for over a week. Finally I went to my friendly MD this morning, who ruled out anything serious. "It's probably a muscle injury from throwing left jabs in the gym," he said. He suggested that I get a heating pad, and keep him notified in case things get worse. The pain flared up as I was hitting the heavybags last night, but like I always do, I ignored the pain and kept going.

Candace and Steve did some light sparring, with me calling out instructions to Candace from outside of the ring. He gave her a lot of attention last night, which will be cut short next week when the new crop of people come in for the fall session. We'll only be in the gym on Wednesday of next week; the gym is closed next Friday because of the annual fieldhouse boxing show. I still haven't practiced "The Star-Spangled Banner", which I'll sing to open the show. I need to get on it.

Everlast is one of the sponsors of the World Boxing Championship that is coming to town next month, so they hooked us up with a lot of new equipment. There were boxes of stuff when I arrived last night. The idea of the tournament organizers is that the international boxers would go to local Chicago gyms to workout while they are here. The new equipment will be nice for them to use. Steve hung up the double-end bag last night, and it feels fine. JJ was grumbling about a pair of the new bag gloves: "They're too fuckin' tight!" I told him all the new stuff will take time to break in.

Only Candace, JJ, Ben, Steve and myself were in the gym last night. I came in late because I had to go to my regular visit with my foot doctor first. Couldn't go home to change because I had to attend a mid-afternoon meeting at the main downtown office of my job, so I was carrying my gear with me. I changed into a white T-shirt and dark shorts right after the meeting. Les gave me a double look when he saw me. No, I was not going to the fundraising auction that was taking place after the meeting (which is why the meeting was scheduled when it was). Couldn't justify paying the high ticket prices, nor afford to bid on anything. It was not in my budget.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Casino Fights

All of the fights held at Hollywood Casino out in Aurora, IL this past Friday night were exciting. That is, with the exception of Bovan's fight, which was the last one of the evening. Bovan learned at the last minute that he was on the card, so Steve, JJ and myself stopped to pick him up. We ran into Antonio on the way, and spoke with him for a few moments.

Bovan was paired with a big Nigerian guy. The first two rounds were snoozers, as neither man threw many punches nor significant ones. I heard Steve snap, "What are you trying to do, outslick him?" Finally, the two fighters showed some life in the last round, but that quickly turned into a lot of clinches. "Come on," Steve said, "knock him on his ass!" Bovan won, but barely, squeaking out a decision.

Steve and JJ's conditioning coach, Jerome, worked JJ's corner during his match. JJ fought a Russian guy who was very stiff in the way held himself. Near the end of the second round, JJ caught the guy with a right and knocked him to the canvas. Jerome jumped up and down, yelling, "That's what I'm talking about!" He was so carried away that he forgot that he was supposed to assist in the corner. Fortunately, Mike leap up on the apron to help Steve. JJ continued to dominate the Russian in the third round. The Russian's corner people waved a white towel to stop the match.

I met a woman named Kristen, who was with Paul, another guy who fought and won that night. She asked about sparring opportunities at Loyola Park. Steve told her there were a few women, including me. Kristen remarked that she had a hard time finding matches. Steve indicated that it was hard for me to get them, too. "Because of my age. . .and diabetes," I told her. "You could always go pro," she smiled. A light bulb went off in my head. Another way to pick up some extra cash, I thought. But seeing how I am 45 years old, and haven't had any amateur fights, that would be a neat trick to pull off. Besides, if the USA Amateur Boxing Association doesn't allow those with diabetes and high blood pressure to compete, I would assume the same restriction are in the pro ranks.

We stopped at a gas station so Steve could fill up and get directions back to the highway. A woman came up to the car claiming that she was working for a company that was testing a new cologne. Allegedly, the cologne was something new by Armani. Yeah, right. . .it was after 9:00 PM, and they're hanging at a gas station selling what was probably no-name cologne that might have been hot goods. Uh-huh. JJ used some of his winnings to buy a bottle. Bovan had gotten out of the car to get something to eat. When he came back, the woman was joined by her partner, a guy who had tried to convince me and Steve to buy the cologne. The woman was impressed by Bovan's build. He's a solid built guy. I shook his hand earlier when we picked him up; nice strong grip. The woman wanted him to flex his muscles. He hesitated for a moment, but then obliged her. She was impressed.

On way back to Chicago, both Bovan and JJ stated that they didn't want Steve to ever stop any matches of theirs. Steve explained that if he saw that they were getting extremely hurt, he would have no choice but to step in and call it off. "You could get brain damage, etc.," Steve said. Bovan declared, "If anybody ever did that to me, I'd fight them. I mean, I wouldn't fight you because I know you, but I'd never let you work my corner again." "That's fine," Steve said, with no trace of irritation. Bovan is a professional MMA fighter; he boxes mainly for extra fight practice.

Bovan revealed something that I didn't know. There's not a clear amateur path in MMA as there is in boxing. "You can go pro faster there, instead of like boxing, where it takes years," he said. He has had a chance to spar with and be around some MMA superstars, such as Tim "The Maniac" Silva, for example. Bovan believes MMA will overtake boxing. Steve disagreed, stating he thinks there is room for both.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Little Lady and The Casino

G dropped in yesterday, but he couldn't stay. He brought his three-year-old daughter with him, an absolutely adorable little lady named Laila. She wasn't talking much, and her dad told her she was being shy. Suddenly, she spoke up in a loud, strong voice, "No, Daddy, I am not being shy. I am not acting shy." She didn't say much after that, but her curious eyes looked around the gym. G said that the Mexican Independence Parade organizers are looking for boxers to participate in it. He left some information about it for Steve.

We also talked about the World Boxing Championships, which will take place late next month. I signed up to be a volunteer yesterday. One of the organizers told me that I should receive information about assigments as early as next week.

Bony came in with his little son, Manuel, a friendly child who waved at everybody. Later, Nate Sr. came in. His son, Nate Jr., was playing basketball in the gym next to ours. Candace was missing, and I also noted that Erin hadn't been in for a long time. I don't know if Erin gave up on boxing, or her school work is keeping her away.

JJ has a fight on Friday night at the Hollywood Casino in Aurora, IL. Steve explained that the casino doesn't want the fights going on for very long. The main purpose of the fights is to lure people into the casino to gamble. Only five fights have been set up. Larry would have had a fight, but one was not available for him. He's planning to come along, however, along with Steve, myself, and Mort. JJ's conditioning coach is planning to meet up with us out there.

I've never been inside a casino in my life. My late dad frequented the casinos, riverboats and friends' card games. My aunts like those things, too. I can understand the fascination with gambling, but I can't see always giving away money with no guarantee of a return. I might try the slot machines, just for the experience of it, but I'm not planning to drop a load of cash.

After a few days of insomnia, I was finally able to sleep well last night. Unfortunately, I slept too well and was an hour and half late to work this morning. I have to make that time up today because this is the last day of the pay period. I knew working out last night would help me get some shut eye.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Mom Of The Gym Gives Advice

Jermaine once gave me the nickname of "Queen of the Gym", but last night I felt like "Mom of the Gym" when JJ called to ask for information and advice concerning renting an apartment. He and Mort have been trying to get money together so they can move out of their parents' respective houses for months. Both guys are old enough to be my sons, if I had any.

He started out by asking about the cost of renting in my neighborhood. JJ lives in Evanston, and traditionally, a lot of young adults who live in that town have looked to the Rogers Park neighborhood to find cheaper apartments. Evanston is not cheap to live in. High property taxes is one reason why it's expensive. There are mostly houses, and like most other cities and towns, condos have proliferated like cockroaches. Unfortunately, Rogers Park has lost its reputation as an area where affordable apartments can be found easily. New condo developments and former apartment buildings that have been converted to condos have driven the price of the rentals that are left up very high.

The first apartment I had was in the Gold Coast, an upper middle class/wealthy area not far from downtown Chicago. Amazingly, I was paying a little over $200 a month for an apartment that my late dad had to co-sign the lease on. I was making not much more than $10,000 a year at the time. Nobody making that small of a salary today could afford anything there or anywhere else for that matter.

It seems to be very hard for young adults to start out on their own these days. Those graduating from college find themselves living back at home, even if they have a job. Starting salaries often aren't enough for them to live on their own. Those with only a high school education have an even harder time finding decent paying work, which cuts down on them being truly independent. Getting a roommate saves some money, but often, there's still a lot of penny pinching going on.

I advised JJ to look at apartments where he wouldn't have to pay utilities at all. "Never move into any apartment where you have to pay a heat bill. That bill will take a big chunk out of your paycheck," I said. I also told him ways to cut down on his electric bill if he has to be responsible for one.

I only touched on having to figure groceries and transportation costs into his living expenses. When I see him later this week, we'll discuss it more.

Second Confession

Here is the other story I sold. Once again, remember that the title and the names have changed in the published version. The confession magazine owns all rights to this story now, so they have made changes as they saw fit. Comments welcomed.

"You come back here right now and explain it to him yourself, Bill!" I snapped. My ex-husband quickly backed down the front steps of the house we used to share and towards his car. "I can’t, Caty. I’m already running late," he said before speeding off. I stood and fumed for a few moments before going back inside the house. I was left alone to tell our son that his dad had broken another promise to spend time with him – again.

Bill and I had separated when Evan was very small. It was still hard for me to wrap my mind around what went wrong. Bill and I met while we were in college. He was a senior on his way to a career in business, and I was a freshman still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. After I met Bill however, it was apparent that the only thing I wanted to do was to be at his side. We spent every moment out of class with each other. Bill graduated that spring and not long afterwards, I left school to be his wife. My parents weren’t happy with me stopping my education, but when they met Bill, they liked him instantly. He and I built a home together, and I was satisfied with being a homemaker and stay-at-home mom to Evan.

It was around the time Evan began pre-school that I began to notice changes between Bill and I. He used to confide his dreams and troubles to me. Our regular heartfelt talks tapered off, then stopped altogether. When I asked Bill what was wrong, he would clam up. He spent more and more time at his job, or so that’s what he told me. When I questioned him about all the time he spent away from home, he’d snap that he was working hard for the family and accuse me of being unappreciative of his efforts. Even Evan sensed that his dad was upset most of the time, and he wanted to know why. I had no explanation. No matter I what I did, I couldn’t seem to get through to Bill.

One day, I heard my doorbell ringing in the middle of the afternoon. Evan attended pre-school in the mornings, and I was on my way to pick him up and run errands. A well-dressed woman stood on the doorstep. Mistaking her for a salesperson, I told her that I was sorry, but I had no time to chat about whatever she was selling. She placed a set of papers in my mind, wished me a good day and walked away. I nearly crumpled in the door when I discovered I had just been served divorce papers.

The next several months were like slugging through mud. Turned out that Bill was having an affair with someone whom he had met through his job. The divorce proceedings were not a major battle. In fact, Bill gave me everything my attorney asked for including the house. I just wanted a better explanation as to why my husband felt he needed to be with another woman. We would sit across from each other in the lawyer’s office while ironing out the details of our divorce, and Bill would never meet my eyes. His attorney would do all of the talking, and Bill would bolt out of the door as soon as our meetings were over. I was stuck with trying to make sense of what happened, and having to explain to everyone why Bill and I were through. He didn’t even marry the woman he cheated on me with. My best guess is that when she found out that he had to give a good portion of his paycheck to Evan and I, she quickly lost interest.

I gave Bill credit for remaining a strong presence in our son’s life, however. Sometimes I felt he used his devotion to Evan as a way to compensate for dumping me. What bothered me was that I knew Bill’s girlfriends often went along when he took our son out. Evan was always telling me about some woman that his dad had introduced to him. I didn’t think that was healthy, exposing our son to a parade of women. I seldom dated after the divorce, and I never brought any of my dates around Evan. None of my dates turned into serious relationships, especially when they correctly guessed that Evan was part of the package. I was disappointed, but ultimately, I knew my son was more important that me seeking affection from fickle suitors. It didn’t make sense to me to have Evan form an attachment to any of my dates when it was clear they weren’t going to around in my life for long. When I told Bill my concern, he acted as if I was being jealous and unreasonable. Rather than start another argument, I dropped the subject. Besides, I didn’t have any evidence that any of Bill’s girlfriends were being mean to Evan. That changed when Debra came into the picture.

Bill called me several days later with a surprise. "I wanted you to be one of the first to know – I’m engaged."

I was taken aback for a second. Bill had given me the impression that he loved the bachelor lifestyle and was perfectly happy to keep playing the field indefinitely. "Well, congratulations. When is the wedding?" I asked.

"As soon as we can. Debra is going full-steam ahead with the plans," he explained. "Caty, I would like to take Evan to meet her."

"Really? Is this Debra the reason why you’ve been breaking so many promises to Evan?"

"Don’t start, Caty. I told you the last time couldn’t be helped. Besides, Debra wants to meet you, too," he said, with a bit of irritation.

"For what?" Bill’s upcoming nuptials were beginning to sink in. The idea of meeting of his bride-to-be wasn’t suddenly wasn’t that appealing. Neither was the idea of Evan having a stepmother.
Bill sighed at the tone of my voice. "We all need to get to know each other. It’ll be my treat. Please, Caty?"

The day of the lunch, Evan and I arrived at the restaurant Bill picked early. I kept my cell phone on in case my ex came up with another excuse as to why he couldn’t show up. Even if he and Debra didn’t show up, at least Evan and I could have a nice lunch. Bill paid both alimony and child support, and my parents helped me out, but I still had to watch my budget. I liked to cook, so it was rare that I took Evan out to eat.

We took a booth near the entrance so we could see Bill and his fiancée arrive. We didn’t have to wait long, when Bill appeared with a fashionably dressed woman with long, shiny auburn hair. He spotted Evan and I and waved before they came over to sit with us. It looked as if Debra had given me the once over with her eyes when Bill introduced us. I was dressed appropriately for the occasion, even though I wasn’t wearing designer labels like she was. I had also managed to keep my short, dark hair in place. Debra’s smile appeared insincere when she looked at Evan. The waiter quickly took our orders, and then left the four of us alone to talk.

Bill had known Debra for only a couple of months before he proposed to her. I noted that was about the same time Bill started breaking his promises to spend time with Evan. He explained that Debra was a top agent in the real estate Company. I assumed that she was making good enough money not to try and ease Bill out of his.

"Do you do anything other than take care of your son?" Debra suddenly asked me. Evan is Bill’s son, too, I thought. Immediately, I got the sense that she was looking down on me because I was not a fast-moving career woman like she was. I ignored her snide tone and answered her.

"I have a part-time job at a craft store in the mall. When Evan starts first grade, I’ll take on more hours, but for now, I like to be there for him when he comes home from school. Besides, there’s always something to do around the house."

Debra raised her eyebrows. "I couldn’t be satisfied with homemaking being the main part of my day."

By this time, the waiter had brought appetizers and salads, so Evan was too busy eating to pay attention to the adults’ conversation. I patted his hand. "When you have a child, you’ll find that you can’t get around not taking care of the housework."

Debra put an arm around my ex-husband’s shoulders, and laughed derisively. "I’m not having any kids. I have too many other things to do, right honey?"

Bill just grunted and attacked his salad. I let the subject drop. I couldn’t help but wonder how she was going to ignore the fact that her soon-to-be husband already had a child. The rest of the lunch consisted of Debra bragging about her career accomplishments and their wedding plans. Bill was perfectly comfortable letting her do all of the talking. I also noticed that other than saying hello, she barely acknowledged Evan the rest of the time we were at the restaurant. I couldn’t wait to take Evan and get out of there.

Much later, Bill called to ask what I thought of Debra. I tried to be as diplomatic as possible. Bill asked to take Evan to a nearby amusement park that weekend. Pre-school was over for the year at the end of the week, so I told him it would be fine. Little did I know that would give me more strong hints about how Bill’s fiancée really felt about Evan.

Evan is normally an even-tempered child, but he appeared to be highly irritated when Bill dropped him off at home later that day. Evan asked to go upstairs, and barely said goodbye to his dad. "What happened?" I asked Bill after Evan went up to his room.

Bill rubbed his eyes over his face and sighed. "Evan just has to learn that he can’t have his way all of the time. We had to leave the amusement park earlier than he wanted."

"Kiddy World closes at 6:00 PM, and it’s after eight. If you left earlier than closing time, why are you just now bringing him home?" I asked.

"Well, uh, Debra remembered she had to run an errand. It was a last minute thing, and – "

"You didn’t tell me that Debra went to the park, too," I said, suspicion suddenly washing over me.

My ex leaned in the doorway. "She had to go in for another fitting at the bridal shop. I didn’t think it would take very long, but when we got there at 3:30 PM, Debra found out extra adjustments had to be made."

I took Bill’s arm and dragged him out on the front porch. "You had our son sitting around in a dress shop all this time! You knew Evan had been looking forward to spending all day at Kiddy World!"

Bill backed down the steps. "I don’t want to hear you yelling. I’ll make it up to him, okay?" Before I could say anything else, he sprinted to his car and sped off.

Evan was already in his pajamas, in bed and reading one of his comic books when I came upstairs. "I’m sorry you didn’t have much fun today," I told him, ruffling his hair.
"I had fun, Mom. Well, before Miss Debra called anyway," he said, looking at me with those big green eyes of his.

"When did she call, son?"

"Dad’s cell phone rang when we got off the Ferris wheel. We were supposed to get hot dogs, but Dad said we had to pick up Miss Debra. He told me we were going to come back to the park later."

"Dad said you went to a dress shop."

"It was so boring. Miss Debra made me sit in a chair while she and her friends giggled and tried on dresses. When I asked Dad when we going back to the park, Miss Debra got mad at me and told me to be quiet."

I felt my blood pressure rising. "And what did your dad say to her?"


I said prayers with Evan, and then tucked him into bed. I went to the kitchen and made myself a cup of tea. I was furious. Bill not only cut the day short, but he had lied to the child as well. I blamed myself for letting him get away with that behavior for so long. Bill should have considered himself lucky. I heard of many women who had full-custody like I did, and they denied visitation rights to their ex-husbands out of spite. However, despite of what happened between Bill and I, I had always felt that Evan should not be denied having a relationship with his father. My ex definitely did not have his priorities in order, but he was going to get it together, even if I had to drag him to do it. I made up my mind that Debra’s high maintenance ways wasn’t going to steamroll over my son again.

My church decided to have a Men’s Day that year. It was going to be a fun day of activities for fathers and sons. The special events committee had been planning it for months, and anticipation was high. My dad volunteered to take Evan to the event. While I appreciated my dad making the effort, I didn’t want my son to be one of the few boys there without his dad. We lived in a small suburban town; in the church we attended, there weren’t very many divorcees or singles. I didn’t want Evan to stand out. It wasn’t his fault that Bill didn’t want to be married to me anymore.

A big baseball game was going to be part of Men’s Day, and I knew Evan loved to play. I told Bill that it would be nice if he brought a new catcher’s mitt for him in advance of taking him to the event. "Uh, about that, Caty. . .wasn’t your dad planning to take Evan to church that day?" Bill asked.

"My parents are going to be out of town visiting friends that Sunday," I quickly said.

"Well, I, uh, have to check my schedule," Bill stammered.

"Debra can’t go to a dress fitting by herself, is that it?" I sarcastically remarked.

"There’s a lot of planning that goes into a wedding, Caty."

"Like I wouldn’t know that. Look, I’m giving you enough notice to get Men’s Day in your appointment book. Evan’s expecting you to take him," I firmly said.

Bill gave me some excuse about having to call a business associate, and he ended the phone call. I slammed the receiver down. He had another thing coming if he thought he was going to get out of this one. I kept calling him with reminders about Men’s Day for the next few weeks, but most of the time, I got his voice mail. I kept assuring Evan that his dad would take him, but as the day grew closer, I began to panic. Bill had not spent any time with Evan, neither did he confirm he’d take him to Men’s Day. I didn’t want Evan to be disappointed. I could take him, but it wouldn’t be the same as having his dad there.

The day of the event, I took Evan home after church so he could change his clothes. While he was upstairs, I kept scanning the street for Bill’s car. It came time for Evan to go back to church for Men’s Day, and his dad was nowhere to be found. I was so angry. I knew other single mothers regularly ran down their kids’ fathers in front of them, but I didn’t want to do that. I was trying to figure out a way to tell Evan that his dad couldn’t make it without pointing out Bill’s shortcomings. Suddenly, I saw a sports car pull up. My sigh of relief turned into irritation when I saw Debra getting out of the driver’s side after Bill stepped out of the other side.
I strolled out onto the porch to meet them. Bill looked nervous, as Debra held tightly onto his arm. I noticed Bill was carrying a catcher’s mitt. "Bill, Evan can’t wait to use that catcher’s mitt at the baseball game today," I sweetly said.

Debra smiled at me, but her eyes were narrowed as she spoke. "Seems that Bill forgot to tell you that we have some details we have to work out with the caterer this afternoon. Isn’t that right, honey?"

"Yeah," Bill said. I glared at him, but he couldn’t even look me in my face.

Debra continued as if nothing was wrong. "I wanted to make sure that we were able to come by and drop off Evan’s gift before we go."

I stepped closer to Bill. "You knew that Evan’s grandfather couldn’t take him. Now I’m going to call Evan downstairs, and you two are going up to the church."

Debra’s smile faded into a tight line. "Today is the best time this week to catch our caterer. I’m sure you can understand that, Caty."

"You can manage to do that on your own, Debra. I didn’t have to drag Bill around me with everywhere when we were planning our wedding." I said, turning on her.

"That was then, and this is now," she said with a major attitude. She could have slapped me and it would have had the same negative effect.

"Evan! Your dad is here!" I called out.

"Bill, we don’t have time for this," Debra whispered to Bill, mistakenly thinking I couldn’t hear her.

"You can wait until tomorrow. Caterers, florists, dressmakers, and whoever else the hell you need will be open on Monday," I shot out.

"I have a busy career, sweetie, so I don’t have time to take off work to take care of these things." Debra growled.

"Just like Bill didn’t have time to take Evan back to the amusement park after you and your bridesmaids had a fitting?"

"Wait a minute, Caty –", Bill started, but my stern look cut him off.

"You sat there and allowed her to yell at him. How did you expect the boy to sit there for hours and not fidget, Bill?"

Bill had the good sense not to deny what he had done. He looked down at his feet instead. Debra looked past me. I turned to see Evan had come down the stairs. His presence egged her on.
"It’s not my problem that you never taught your brat how to act out in public," she sneered.

I would have liked nothing better than pushing her down the front steps of my house, but I forced myself to keep my cool. "It’s one thing to disrespect me, Debra, but I’m not going to stand for you disrespecting my son. If you get married to Bill, you’d better get used to the fact that Evan will always be a part of his life!"

Debra looked at Bill. "I suspected that she’d use the kid to play games like this. Well, I’m so sorry you weren’t able to keep him, Caty, but you need to get over it. We are going, Bill. Now."

Evan looked at Bill. "Are we going to Men’s Day, Dad?"

Bill looked from Debra to Evan and didn’t move. I guess he waited too long to say something, because Debra stormed off the porch, hopped in her car and sped away.

"What’s wrong with her?" Evan asked, looking quizzically at both Bill and I.

"She’ll be fine. You ready to go, son?" Bill said, giving me a small smile.

Bill and Evan had a great time at Men’s Day. Later, Bill called me and apologized for allowing Debra to intrude on his time with Evan. I wasn’t surprised when he and Debra broke up soon afterwards. He never told me exactly what happened, but I heard through the grapevine that she took up with some jet-setting businessman who had no children. They’ve been traveling ever since. I guess Debra found the lifestyle she really wanted.

Bill and Evan have become a lot closer since then. Whatever lingering resentment I had towards my ex disappeared, and I was able to act more civil towards him than I had before. We’ll never be a family again in the normal sense, but I feel better than we can agree that our son’s happiness is the most important thing.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The President and College

Mike Q., who is the president of the IL Boxing Association, came by the gym, with a woman named Tiffany, whom he trains. Tiffany is Candace's sister, and she's been boxing for awhile. Tiffany was doing a footwork exercise that looked very good. I'm always having to work on mine, so I'm going to start doing that exercise, too.

The posters asking for volunteers for the World Boxing Championships are out, and they look very nice. I'm going to get more information because I would like to help out. It'll be cool to meet other boxers from other countries.

Wally announced that he is leaving to go to college. He's majors in computer science at Rusk. There have been a lot of college students and grads attending the gym over the years. Jermaine, Danny, Gabe, Josh, Raquel, Bregina, Ben and Terrell are just a few, not to mention Steve, who's completing his Ph.D. I have a college degree in Management. And people say boxers are dumb. . .ha!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

My Story

Someone on another blog I frequent asked me to print one of the stories I sold to a confession magazine. This is my original; the magazine brought all rights, so they've changed the names and some other details, including the title. Enjoy. Comments welcomed.

Mom told me the day I married to my high school sweetheart, "Keep your affections at home."

I was so caught up in the happiness of that day that I didn’t give much thought to what she said. Her saying came back to me during the summer Doris Jones entered my life. Doris became my assistant not long after my former assistant, Maggie, retired after thirty years of service to the company. Maggie was a good worker, but she wasn’t the friendliest person in the world. She was assigned to me when I was promoted to one of the managers’ positions at the Construction Company where I had worked since I graduated from high school. Other than "good morning" and "good night", Maggie and I didn’t talk much other than about work. When Doris came in to interview, she impressed me right off. She projected an air of confidence and had an easy, lilting laugh. More important than that, she set me at ease. When our meeting was over, she stood up and gave my hand a firm shake, her green eyes never leaving mine.

"It was a pleasure talking to you, Mr. Stallworth. I hope that we see each other again." She gave my hand a little extra squeeze—or I imagined she did—and she was gone.

No sooner than she had left, I was on the phone to Human Resources. I wanted her to start as soon as possible.Everything ran smoothly after she came on board. It was as if Doris could read my mind. She was truly my right hand. Nothing was out of place, and she met every deadline seemingly with ease. Doris was always pleasant. None of the rolled eyes and light sarcasm I sometimes experienced when I asked Maggie to do some projects. I grew to like being greeted by her warm smile in the mornings. Maybe I enjoyed it a little too much, now that I think back on it. Doris also had a mystery about her that drew me to know more. We talked a lot throughout the day, and shared jokes, but she didn’t reveal much about herself. I did notice there was not a ring on her left hand, but that didn’t mean anything. Some couples get engaged and never get a ring until after they’ve been married for awhile. When I married Anna, I couldn’t afford to give her a ring until after we had been married for a year. I wanted to ask Doris if there was any special man in her life, but it really wasn’t my business. Besides, I liked being intrigued by her sly smiles.

One night, a meeting ran way past dinnertime. Just as we left the office, the sky opened and rain fell in huge, heavy drops. "See you tomorrow, John," Doris said, as she opened her umbrella. "Your car is not too far away, is it?" I asked. She laughed in her own warm way. "My old car died right before I started working here. The bus stop is up at the corner." I kicked myself inside. Seems like I should have known that Doris didn’t have a car. "I’m parked across the street. I’ll give you a ride," I offered. "I’ll be fine," she grinned. "I don’t want to take you out of your way." "I’ll worry about you on the bus this time of night. I insist," I said. I thought, boy, that sounded odd coming out of me, but a second later we were running across the street. Doris gave me directions to her place, and then we began a lively conversation about the issues of the day. I noticed her perfume, a light, pleasant scent that was different than any of the perfumes Anna wore. Suddenly, I felt funny about comparing Doris to my wife, and turned my mind back on our conversation.Doris lived farther out than I thought.

I pulled up in front of a plain looking apartment building in a working class neighborhood. It reminded me of the one I grew up in. "This is it?" I said in amazement. "Yes, it is," Doris smiled. "I’m on the third floor." Doris opened her umbrella as she stepped out of the car. For a second she stood there, and I thought that she seemed extremely out of place in that environment. Doris struck me as too much of a lady to be there. "I really appreciate the ride, John. Have a good night!" She closed the door and bounded lightly up the steps to her front door. I waited until she was safely inside, and lingered a little more until I saw a light come on in a third floor window. On the way home, I couldn’t stop wondering about how Doris lived her life away from the job. Did she go to the movies? Or did she like to curl up with a good book with smooth jazz music playing on the radio? Nah. . .Doris was a little reserved on the job, but I figured that was just part of being professional while at work. She probably was a vivacious type when she wasn’t on the clock, with lots of friends to call on. I was spending way too much time thinking about my assistant.

I resolved to put her and the long workday out of my mind as I turned into the driveway of the comfortable suburban house I lived in with my wife and two kids. Anna would be waiting to tell me what harmless pranks the boys had pulled that day or the latest gossip from her girlfriends, who were all stay-at-home moms like her. I was confused to find all the lights off and no one at home, until I spotted a note near the telephone in the hallway. Guess I forgot that Anna had taken the boys to spend the night over at my mother’s house, and that she had gone out for dinner and drinks with her girlfriends. Anna had what my mother would call "hot feet". She took care of the house and boys fine, but my wife liked to be on the go a lot. Anna was the one who organized the weekly outings with the other wives in the neighborhood. She also had a hand in the shopping trips and lunch dates they kept up on a regular basis, as well. Sometimes, I wondered from where Anna received her energy. I nibbled on a bit of the casserole that Anna had made earlier, then decided to call it a night. I would have waited up for my wife, but I was tired out. Besides, her friend Carmen usually drove them around in her mini-van when they went out, so I wasn’t worried about Anna not having a ride home.

As I lay in bed, I hugged Anna’s pillow close to me, and gave thanks for the fact that I did have a family to come home to. Doris had never said anything about having parents or other family who lived nearby. She probably was all alone in the city. Suddenly, I wrapped the pillow around my head and turned over. What was wrong with me? All of my buddies envied me when I got engaged to Anna. She was considered one of the best looking girls around, and she still is. Doris probably wouldn’t be considered supermodel material, yet she had an inner glow that made her attractive, and a smart mind to boot. I’m sure I knew girls like that in high school, but they were the types that boys had as friends not as dates. Why couldn’t I get Doris out of my mind? The question was not answered as I drifted off to sleep.

I ran down to breakfast the next morning, with only enough time for a cup of coffee. Anna was on the phone, and she ended the call when I came into the room. She looked a little startled. "Something wrong, honey?" I asked. Anna smoothed her shoulder length blonde hair with her hand. "It’s Carmen. Trouble in paradise again," she sighed. I rolled my eyes. Carmen always blew up every little thing that happened between her and her husband into World War III. I was very glad that I didn’t have to live with a woman like that every day. Anna and I had our disagreements and problems like most couples, but I felt we communicated well. "Don’t tell me," I said, as I gulped down my coffee. "Okay, I won’t, but she wants me to come by later today to give me all of the gory details. I’m going to pick up the boys later, then stop by the store. Anything special you want for dinner?" Anna smiled. "Surprise me," I grinned. "I love everything you cook." I kissed her and hustled out of the door to my car.

Doris did not enter my mind again until I got up to my office to find her hard at work at her desk. She barely looked up at me to say hello, which was out of character for her. She seemed to be out of sorts all morning. Right before lunch, I called her into my office.

"I found out my ex is getting married this weekend," she wearily said as she sat down in the chair in front of my desk. So, there was a man, I thought in surprise. I didn’t want to appear like I was prying, so I announced, "Doris, you don’t have to tell me any more about it." She gave a dismissive wave and a small sigh. "My boyfriend and I decided to give each other some air several months ago. I knew it was unlikely we’d get back together, but I still hoped that things would work out somehow. I was wrong." A mutual friend of Doris and her ex-boyfriend had called to tell her the news about his upcoming wedding. I steeled myself in case she started bawling. Women seem to take break-ups harder than men do. My mom cried in her room at night for months when Dad left her. Dad claimed he was in love with the woman with whom he was sneaking around town. The same anger I felt towards Dad then, I felt towards Doris’ ex-boyfriend. "Come on," I said, getting up from my desk. "You need some cheering up." Doris started to protest, but I led her out to her desk to get her purse.

I took her to one of those retro-theme restaurants where everything was decorated as if it was forty years ago. Even the waiters and waitresses dressed as if they were extras in a 1965 B movie. We had a great time there. I kept making jokes to hear Doris laugh. The more Doris talked, the more I thought that the guy who let her go was a fool. I could see that she was an intelligent, charming woman. How come he didn’t see that?

After our lunch, I felt more drawn to Doris than before. I’d better get it together, I thought. Treading on dangerous ground. Doris went back to her desk, and I could hear her humming softly to herself as she worked. I checked my voice mail, and felt a pang of guilt. My wife had left a message around the time that I would have normally been back from lunch. Doris and I had stayed out a little longer than usual. "Honey, Mrs. Basili offered to watch Sean and Noah while I go soothe Carmen’s nerves. I promise I won’t let her keep me too long. I’ll pick up some steak for dinner. Love you!" I checked the other messages that pertained to business, then tried to concentrate on my work. It was hard.

Doris waved at me from the outer office at the end of the day. "I enjoyed lunch, John. That helped at lot." Her green eyes seemed brighter, as if they were looking through to my thoughts. She looked as if she wanted to say something further, but the words didn’t come out. The phone in my office rang. "My pleasure, Doris," I smiled as I picked up the receiver. Doris smiled and left the office.

"Dad, are you coming home right now?" I heard Sean, my ten-year-old say over the line. "Yeah, buddy. What’s up?" I answered. "Mrs. Basili said she has to leave in a half hour. She kept calling Mom, but she didn’t answer her cell phone." "Tell Mrs. Basili I’m leaving right now. I’ll call Mom on the way home, okay?" Anna was always forgetting to recharge her phone. She was probably at the grocery store. When I got inside my car, I dialed her number, but the voice mail kicked in almost immediately. Maybe Carmen was talking so much that she forgot to turn her phone on. I didn’t want to do it, but I called Carmen’s number. I hoped that her husband, Miguel, would answer. Carmen was not discreet about her family affairs, and I’d rather not hear her dirty laundry. I didn’t know how Anna put up with it.

I was relieved when Carmen’s husband picked up. "Anna hasn’t been here," he told me. "Didn’t she tell you about the disagreement they had?" "First time I’ve heard of it," I said. "I’m trying to stay out of the middle of it," Miguel said. "All I know is that Carmen said something to Anna and she got mad. They haven’t been talking to each other for a few days." "They’ve been friends for years. It’ll probably blow over soon." I was in confusion when I ended the conversation shortly afterwards. Hadn’t Carmen just called Anna yesterday? Anna did look a little upset. Maybe she attempted to make up, and it didn’t work out. Then why did she say she was going to her house?

When I got home, Mrs. Basili was irritated. "I don’t mind watching the boys," she told me, barely allowing me to get inside the house first, "but your wife told me she was only going to be gone for an hour. That was almost four hours ago! You know I check on my husband every day." Mrs. Basili’s husband was in a nearby nursing home, a victim of Alzheimer’s. "I’m sorry," I apologized. "I’ll speak to her when she gets home." Mrs. Basili hurried out, grumbling about not having much time before visiting hours were over at the nursing home. "I’m glad she’s gone," Sean said. "She never lets us play video games." Seven year old Noah nodded his head in agreement. "Dad, is Mom gonna be here soon?" he questioned me.

"I’m sure she will, son. Why don’t you guys play some games, and I’ll see what’s in the ‘fridge." As the boys jetted off to their room, my mind whirled with questions.

I made some burgers on the indoor grill we had brought that had that famous boxer’s name on it, and put chips on the side. I hoped Sean and Noah didn’t notice my concern. While they played video games, I called all of Anna’s girlfriends, and her parents, who still lived in the city. I even called my mom on the chance that my wife would be visiting her. I acted as if nothing was wrong so I wouldn’t alarm them, but it was bothering me. It wasn’t like my wife to just take off without telling anyone where she was. The boys finished eating, and I was halfway considering calling the police. Just then, Anna came in carrying two bags of groceries.

The boys ran up and hugged her. "Mrs. Basili was mad, Mom," Sean told her. "She was?" Anna said, looking at me with a quizzical expression. "Is your cell phone working? Mrs. Basili couldn’t get through and neither could I," I said as evenly as I could. Anna’s next expression told me that she knew I was upset. "I brought some ice cream," she told the boys. "I’ll dish it up in a little while. Let me talk to Daddy." The boys went back to their room. Anna carried the groceries to the kitchen, and I followed her. "Aw, you already ate without me," she said as she saw the dishes in the sink. Anna busied herself by putting the food away. "What about your phone?" I asked. "Of course, it’s working, but you know how sometimes calls don’t get through. The technology’s not perfect," she said. "Must have been a long line down at the grocery store. Mrs. Basili said you’ve been gone since early this afternoon." Anna gave me a hug and kissed my cheek. "Mrs. Basili exaggerates a lot," she continued. "I’ve been thinking that maybe the boys are too much for her to handle."

"So what’s going on with Carmen?" I asked. "She’s mad because Miguel wants to move his mother in with them. She’s never gotten along with his mom, and thinks her being in the house will be a disaster." "That’s a new perfume you have on," I said when she pulled away to go load the dishwasher. "It’s the same kind I always wear," she said. The scent was definitely not her usual brand. It had more of a musk smell.

I let the matter drop for the rest of the evening. After all, if she knew I was nursing a secret crush on Doris, she’d certainly have reason enough to be suspicious of me. However, it was obvious that Anna was lying, I didn’t know why.

I stayed holed up in my office the next morning, telling others that I was swamped with things I had to get down. I had no reason to believe anything was wrong between Anna and I before last night. I had always believed that we had a good marriage, and we were in a comfortable groove. I tried to push out of my mind the fact that Anna appeared to hide something last night. But was I any better? I didn’t tell Anna that I had taken Doris out to lunch. She might not have thought anything of it, but my motives for being around Doris were beyond a professional relationship. Later in the afternoon, there was a knock on the door, and Doris poked her head in. "Are you hungry?" she said. I momentarily forgot about my problems when I saw her smile. She slipped inside and closed the door behind her. In her hand was a paper sack from one of the nearby fast food places.

"You didn’t have to do that," I said, glad to have the distraction. "What do I owe you?" "Don’t worry about it," she said as she put the bag in front of me and sat down. "Everyone thinks you’ve gotten lost under all of the paper on your desk." She chuckled at this, and I grinned, too, not at the joke, but because I enjoyed the way she looked when she was amused about something. I could have sworn her eyes became brighter and her skin glowed then. "Guess I’m just having a rough day," I said. Doris leaned forward in her seat and looked me in my eyes. "Anything I can help with?" she asked.

I can’t say what possessed me to do what I did next. Maybe it was because of all of the times I thought about Doris and how fascinating she was. It could have been a reaction to Anna not being truthful with me, and not knowing why. I got up, came around my desk, and helped Doris to her feet. She looked in my eyes as if she knew what was coming. When I kissed her, she showed no signs of resistance. It seemed like hours before we finally broke apart, but it was only a few sweet moments. Immediately, I felt guilty, and I guess I expected Doris to show some remorse, too. Instead, she gave a knowing look and slipped back out of my office to her desk.

I hid in the office for the rest of the afternoon, afraid to face her again. I didn’t emerge until after I knew she was gone for the day. The kiss kept replaying in my mind the whole time I rode home. I admit it—I enjoyed it. But it was still wrong. Despite of whatever was going on with Anna, I was still her husband. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t go back to work and pretend like nothing had happened. It sickened me that perhaps I had turned into my dad—a womanizer with no consideration for anyone’s feelings.

I was never that much of a drinker, but I needed one at that moment. I pulled into the parking lot of a restaurant and bar that was several miles away from my house. Maybe I could formulate a plan to straighten out everything. I crept into a booth in the farthest, darkest section of the place. Luckily, the place was crowded with people, mostly couples who were too busy into each other to notice a lone man. A waitress quickly appeared to take my order, and left to fill it just as quickly. I put my head down on the table in a vain attempt to clear the confusion inside. A woman’s loud laughter cut across the other noise in the room. Something must have really been funny, because the laughter kept going and going. It sounded familiar. A few moments went by, and the waitress returned with my drink. The woman across the way was still laughing. The waitress, an older woman, wrinkled her nose. "I hope I don’t have to cut someone off because they’ve had too much," she groaned. "It’s too early in the evening to have thrown back that many, don’t you think?" I just nodded as she went back to the bar. That laughter really sounded familiar. I downed my drink in one gulp, and decided not to get another.

I really must have been out of it to think that getting drunk was going to help. I was driving and I needed a clear head. I got up to go up front to pay my bill, when the loud laughter rang out again. I noticed that several of the couples nearby were craning their necks to see who was the culprit. I guess it was disturbing their romantic moments, by the looks on their faces. I looked back at the booth where the noise came from, and saw a man slapping the table with his hand and grinning. His date had her back to me, but I could see that she was a blonde. I felt guilty all over again, because the woman reminded me of Anna. I quickly paid my bill and practically ran out of the place.

I fumbled for my keys for a few minutes after I reached my car. A moment later, I heard the same woman laughing again. At least one person’s having a good time today, I thought ruefully to myself. "I’m sorry I have to rush off, but we have to be careful," the woman said. I spotted Anna leaning against her car, while the man who had been in the booth with her was pressing close to her. "I can’t keep leaving you like this," the guy cooed. "Sooner or later, you’re gonna have to make a decision."

My feet felt like they were bolted to the asphalt. I couldn’t believe it. . .the woman I had known since junior year of high school was seductively hugging another man. "You feel so good," the guy continued. "Find some time to see me tomorrow." Anna kissed him and brushed back his dark hair. "I don’t know about tomorrow, baby. I’ll call you." They went on caressing each other, ignoring their surroundings. Finally, they let each other go. The guy swaggered off to his car, and Anna stood patiently until he drove off in the direction of the city. She then got into her car and rolled away.

I got in my car and sat gripping the wheel for several minutes. I wanted to tear after my wife, confront her about what I saw and demand that she take me to that guy’s house so I could pound him down. When I thought about it, I couldn’t confront Anna over her dirt without revealing mine. But I hadn’t slept with Doris yet. The way Anna and that guy were pressed to each other, I was sure they had crossed that threshold long ago.

I grabbed my cell phone. I couldn’t go home yet. Not now. I had Doris’ home number in my address book because sometimes I called her after hours about work projects. "I need to see you now," I said. Doris hesitated for a moment before she answered. "I know a coffeehouse nearby. Tell me what time you’ll be there, John."

She was waiting at a table when I arrived, a look of concern in her bright eyes. I nodded to her, and went up to the counter to buy a cup of coffee. I came over to sit down, and we sat in silence for several moments, except for the clack of the spoon Doris used to stir her tea. "John, I’m going to turn in my resignation," she said quietly.

"You don’t have to do that," I told her. She reached out and took hold of my left hand, running a finger over my wedding band. "We were both wrong," she answered. "Do you honestly think I could continue to come to work and we just forget about our attraction?" I was happy that she felt the same way about me, but sad because she was being truthful. I wasn’t going to give up easily. I told what I had learned about Anna that day. Doris listened patiently until I was through. "Some men say things just to get what they want out of a woman, but I believe you," she said earnestly. "She’s still your wife, however. I don’t want to be an easy excuse to end your marriage. Go back and see if there is anything worth saving." She got up from the table. "What if there isn’t? What then?" I asked, looking up at her.

Tears were pooling in her eyes. "You have to try, John," she said. "Don’t give up unless you are certain there is no chance. I’ll just have to accept what happens." Doris hurried out into the night before I could say anything else.

It was a long ride home that night. All the lights were off when I pulled up into the driveway, so I assumed that Anna and the boys were asleep. I hoped that Anna was. I still had no idea what to say to her. Now that Doris and I had acknowledged that there was something between us, I knew I would have to deal with that, too. I crept through the living room, when a lamp light on an end table next to the couch went on. After my eyes adjusted to the light, I saw Anna sitting on the couch in her bathrobe.

"Guess you know, right?" she said. Before I could respond, Anna went on. "I saw your car in the lot after Derek pulled off." It was as if all the air drained out of me like a punctured balloon. "So that’s his name," I said, sounding defeated. "I half expected you to come running over and punch him out," Anna laughed bitterly. "I should have known you’d show no reaction."

"You cheated on me and now you’re accusing me of being uncaring?" I bristled, trying to keep my voice down as to not to wake the boys. "Not uncaring, just unobservant," my wife snapped. "You go off out in the real world everyday, while my life consists of nothing of dealing with the boys and this house. You’re satisfied with our little world, but I feel like I’m in a cage." I slumped down in a nearby chair. "Haven’t I shown you affection, taken care of you, taken care of the boys?" I demanded. "There is no excitement anymore, nothing but sameness," she sighed in frustration.

"Why am I just now hearing about your unhappiness?" I asked. "You could have always talked to me." "What would have that changed?" she said, a hard edge to her voice. "I would still be bored, John. I expected my life to be different than this."

I didn’t know what to say to that. I honestly thought everything was fine. What signs did I miss? Anna slowly picked up the tissues strewn around on the coffee table and the couch. "I’m going to continue to see Derek," she said coldly. "I guess we’d better talk about separation." I stood up and walked towards the front door. "No, we’d better talk about divorce," I growled before leaving. Anna had chosen what was going to make her happy and it wasn’t me.

It was the middle of the night as I leaned on Doris’ bell. I heard a window open, and I looked up. Doris leaned out on the windowsill, wearing a pair of pajamas and her hair tied up in a scarf. She looked gorgeous to me. "John, are you crazy?" she yelled down to me. "Absolutely," I said, nodding my head. We stared at each other, a moment of understanding passing between us. Slowly, she broke into a wide smile. A few seconds later, she had run down the three flights of stairs, opened the front door and flung herself into my arms.

I wish I could say that all my troubles ended at that moment. The divorce was a dragged out process, not only because of custody issues involving the kids, but Anna felt she to exaggerate things to get a bigger alimony payment. I could have fought dirty, but I didn’t for the sake of the boys. Eventually we both settled on joint custody of Sean and Noah. To my surprise, Anna dropped her request for alimony and asked for more child support, which I was willing to pay. She moved in with Derek and went back to school to get a college degree. I guess he’s paying for her education. Doris did quit being my assistant. In light of all the other confusion that was going on, we didn’t need to add to it by fueling gossip at the office. There were some rumors flying around, but I hired another assistant quickly—a guy straight out of college who wanted to learn the construction business—and the rumors died off.

Doris and I took things slow. We wanted to make sure that we had a real relationship, not just an office fling. I learned more about her, and met her family. There is still an air of mystery about her, however. We’re planning our wedding now, and I hope to spend the rest of my life discovering the mysteries that make up the wonderful, loving person she is.

The Contenders

Steve forgot that the third season of "The Contender" premiered on ESPN this past Tuesday. "I heard that they got rid of six guys already," he said. That was true. One of the guys who was eliminated was 198 pounds, and all of the boxers during this season are supposed to be super middleweights, with a weight limit of 168 pounds. The guy lost seven pounds, but still had too much weight to cut to get down to size. It would have been dangerous for him to try to quickly get it all off.

"Buddy McGirt is one of the trainers on that show because his two cash cows -- Antonio Tarver and Arturo Gatti -- both lost fights recently," Steve laughed. It tripped me out that Gatti not only lost his last fight, but he retired in his corner. The guy who beat him? Alfonso Gomez, one of the boxers during season one of "The Contender."

There is a boxing show at Simons Park tonight, but Steve opted out of going to that. He's going to try to set up Larry with a match at the Eckhart Park boxing show, which is next week. JJ has a fight coming up next week as well, at a casino out in Aurora.

Bony sparred with Mike, and Bony had very good head movement. Steve kept telling Bony to hit Mike a little harder. "He can take it!" Steve said. Mike is probably the best conditioned person in the Loyola Park boxing gym. He works out all the time. Larry and JJ sparred, and I turned around to see Steve tending to a cut Larry had. It never fails. JJ always manages to cut somebody open, either in sparring or during regular matches.

Candace came in, but she was mostly on her own that night. I did give her some pointers about throwing hooks, but otherwise, she worked out on the bags.

I hurt one of the knuckles on my left hand while trying to throw an uppercut on the double end bag. My hand slipped and hit one of the metal pieces connected to the band that holds up the bag. My hands were wrapped, but I did not wear gloves. I usually don't while working on those lighter bags. It hurt badly for a minute, but it feels fine today.

Monday, September 03, 2007

New Dad

On Friday, Steve said he ran into Javonte, who hasn't been in the gym for weeks. Javonte had been steadily improving with his boxing skills. "He hasn't been around because he had a child," Steve explained. "What? How old is he?" I said. "Nineteen," came the reply.

Quiet, soft-spoken Javonte is a dad? Took me a little time to wrap my mind around that one. Bony stopped in around the time Steve dropped the news about Javonte. Both Bony and Steve talked about how they were over thirty when they decided to have children. Bony had his six-year old son with him. "Sometimes, when these guys have kids so young, they don't stick around long," Steve said. I certainly hope that is not the case with Javonte.

JJ was talking about making plans to celebrate his birthday, which passed. I'm sorry that I forgot the date. He turned 21, which is a milestone birthday.