Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Come At Me, Bro

Life is the ultimate bully, picking on 98-pound weakling you, kicking sand in your face and stealing your girl.

When things are at their darkest, life bursts from its seedy grime-covered hole and starts poking your chest. “Come at me, bro!” it taunts. “Come at me!”

At age 11, I lost both my grandparents, one to a heart attack, the other to liver cancer. Life left a traumatic impression, like waking to a rat skittering across your chest.

“Come at me, bro!” life mocked.

I wasn’t like the other students and was left behind a grade. It wasn’t that I lacked motivation or intelligence; I just wanted the pain to stop. Wanted people to listen to me. Didn’t want them to tease me.
“Come at me, bro! Come at me!”

Every girl who rejected me in school, who made fun of my last name, who laughed because I was withdrawn. The fights after school on the playground. Humiliating. Blood on concrete. Muffled sobs into a pillow because I didn’t want my parents to hear.

“Come at me, bro!"

Jobs with asshole bosses. Suffering the ridicule and the positions I didn’t want but slogged through because I needed the income. Trying to squeeze out of the shell suffocating me.

Life became a drunken lout and boorish jackass.

“Come at me, bro! Come at me!”

When I struggled through an unhappy marriage and stressful divorce, the disillusionment poured over me like waterboarding. Whispers and promises, paying bills and drowning in a torpid routine. You’re flawed and she makes you feel small, makes you regret. Makes you attempt suicide. Noose slung over beam in garage.

 “Come at me, bro!”

What you thought was love was only lust. Drunken tryst with someone you regarded as your soul mate. Turns out you were too immature for anything deep.

Hurtful words said in the heat of the moment. Hurtful words you could not take back. Life calling you a loser, a failure, a nobody.

Life slaps you, punches you, gives you a bloody nose.

“Come at me, bro!”

A series of missteps, accusations you’re incompetent. Self doubt. She texts you, calling  you a liar and saying you’re afraid of life. Your writing career is a joke. What the hell do you have to say? Back pain. A herniated disc. Hypochondriac. Munchausen syndrome because you want others to feel sympathy.

You just want someone to feel anything for you.

Life jabs you repeatedly, uppercut, overhand, hook, liver punch. Staggering and stumbling, seeing stars.

“Come at me, bro! Come at me.”

Then you do the most unexpected and surprising thing, when life has you on the ropes and you’re drooling blood and black puffy eyes obscure your vision.

You punch back.

You’re Muhammad Ali, Rocky Balboa and Popeye the Sailor beating the shit out of life.

That’s all you can stand, you can’t stands no more.

When life retaliates, you don’t throw in the towel. You defend yourself and swing.

No matter how much life bullies you, knocks you down or trips you, you don’t give it the satisfaction of quitting. Punch back, spit blood, grunt like a wolverine on steroids and say “Is that all you got? I’m still standing. I won’t be undone. I’m tired of your bullshit, tired of feeling sad and insignificant. I will kick your ass.”

That moment life realizes you’re not weak and easily intimidated. It wobbles like a battered crane, hobbling on one foot. Mouth agape, stunned into silence.

You lean over, scrunch up your face and say to life, “Come at me, bro.”

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