Church of Pain

Yesterday I started boxing. Took my first head shots. Manuel was right, you can feel your brain slosh a little when someone hits you. That means little parts of it are dying. Well that’s good; I’m too smart for my station in life. I need to get pummeled until I’m a flat-faced dope who’s thrilled with mediocrity. Fantasy football and a total dearth of ambition and small, trite ideas; I need these things so badly.

They just built the gym in July and it’s gorgeous. Where wealthy pugilists train. Pristine black mats and the climbing ropes that are still reflective from all the factory wax some kid in Bangladesh rubbed into the fibers in June. Costs $140 a month because Korea is gentrifying at warp speed. Korea is now like Hong Kong and Japan and Singapore in that it actually knows what to charge for shit. American costs. Not at all like China where you can kill your liver for $2.50.

I tried to look cool while I blasted at a bag like how they showed me. Thirty minutes. Three minutes in, whole chains of muscles are on fire from your neck down to your hips. I tried to look cool so the women would think: not bad for a rookie. Which didn’t happen. Behind me the rich flat-assed Korean yoga dolls did 5 sets of 25 lateral shoulder raises with 5 kg weights, which is much harder than it sounds. Their faces stayed absolutely serene throughout. Women who can take your own arm and twist it around and then beat you to death with it. Then the Miyagis in charge set up a circuit with high box jumps and ropes to climb and had us all run the course for a half-hour. It was like being trapped in a very, very long training montage. They played a spring break Pandora station during. Shots shots shots shots shots shots shots shots shots shots shots shots and so on.

***

So tired after that it took two attempts to tie my shoes. Then I got a beer with Manuel the Frenchman and this Korean girl who works for North Face corporate and does marathons. I forgot her name immediately. I always forget Korean names. When she heard me say I was a teacher I became invisible. I need to lie more. Meanwhile Manuel has lost 20 kg since the summer and he showed us the before and after photo. He edited it so his fat self is gaping at his svelte self and it’s funny as shit. The Korean girl reacted like she’d seen the face of God.

Yes, it’s cool, but what about us consistent warriors who never get fat. Where’s our adulation. I can show you a before and after picture that will blow your fucking mind because it shows no change at all, because I don’t fall off. Where’s our reality show.

I’m learning a lot from Manuel. He’s got a ring but since I’ve never actually seen his wife I think it’s just a chick-snaring prop.

***

My taxi driver remembered me. He took me home from Hongdae one early Sunday morning when I’d been in a suit; he remembered my blazer was blue. He asked how the girl was. Even in a city of a million taxis this encounter didn’t surprise me. Whoredom is the one part of my life in which I have achieved undeniable success. And I think that’s all the luck the gods have seen fit to give me. It’s too bad. I want to transfer that luck from fucking basket and over into writing.

Back at home I had big plans. I was going to jack off. I was going to blog and write a thousand words of a short story. I was going to clean my place and sharpen the half-truths on my resume so I can go get another job that is a miserably wrong fit for me. Then I limped into the kitchen and cooked my chicken and ate it and passed out next to the bed. I forgot to turn the stove off.

***

Today I feel like I got tortured. I’m like John McCain and can’t raise my arms. But I had to go run after work. 5K coming up, my first race in four years. Which is stupid. I’m taller than Kobe; I have no business running distance. When you’re this massive you move through the world dragging an anchor behind you. All the impact trauma jams my knees askew and smashes my foot’s navicular bones into dust.

But where else can you have such an honest moment. Like when you’re maxed out with your arms chopping and clawing and a toxic fire roiling in your chest and you’re staring at everyone’s backs while they float away. And when you finish and you feel cinematic and it proves that everyone was wrong about you. Even if you fuck up every other thing in your life you’ll still have this. When you’re out there dying you re-realize that if you’re not hurting and failing then you’re not getting anywhere. Which is really the only thing you need to know.

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12 thoughts on “Church of Pain

  1. Too good for mediocre? ” Even if you fuck up every other thing in your life you’ll still have this. When you’re out there dying you re-realize that if you’re not hurting and failing then you’re not getting anywhere.” My favorite lines. Thanks for putting “Runners High” into more poetic terms.

      1. I like that word. It was other ones, and it wasn’t just this post. I have to admit sometimes I have to use the dictionary when I read your posts.

  2. Best 2 lines – “Back at home I had big plans. I was going to jack off.”

    Yeah, well, I’m with the anonymous SOB above… keep writing because you’re helping some of us relive parts we’ve repressed.

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