Vitriol or Geritol

Posted on by Dave Woodruff

These guys have clearly never fought for something they really believe in. Fought in a battle that meant far more to them than a bloated paycheck and a belt that looks like it was crafted from unwanted scrap from an old car lot.

Think about it, two guys, self proclaimed pugilists, acting as if they are sworn enemies, most boxers in the ring have never even met before. Why the hell are they so angry with each other? It’s not like one of them is “The Man” keeping them down. That’s the promoter, taking his cut while they bleed like milksop pantywaists. They’ve never been witness to real fury. The kind of spitfire venom that takes someone to a realm beyond understanding. The single-minded savagery that can make even the most meek become a lion. They simply fight for the idolization of wealth and the latent draw of homosexuality. 

Let me step back a few years.

I grew up about four blocks from my Grandmother’s house. As a kid I guess I always suspected this was the way all kids grew up, their grandmother only a few blocks away. Over the river and through the woods was only a stop sign and a few turns away. What I’m really trying to explain is that I saw my Grandmother more than most kids probably see their grandparents. 

She was typical in every Grandparenty way, she baked, she smelled like olden times, her house had doilies everywhere, she made watered down KoolAid for us, and she grew roses in her garden. My Mother never mentioned anything about my Grandmother I would consider out of the ordinary, and aside from her buying and hoarding lightbulbs and Metamucil, she was just a Grandma. 

Her garden, was possibly, her only oddity. My Grandmother kept a very orderly, some might say uncompromisingly strict rose garden. Very tight rows, very meticulously manicured blooms. She pruned on a strict schedule, fed the roses a well researched fertilizer, covered them in frost and some might say, treated them better than her own kids, or even grandkids. I’m not sure of that, I don’t know what they got for Christmas, but they also likely never had to eat tongue when they visited.

My Grandmothers’ garden was certainly her progeny, and one fateful day in early Summer, when I was 9 years old, I came to witness what commitment to purpose and malice could do, given the right resolution. 

A few weeks earlier a new family had moved in the condo next door to my Grandmother. I hadn’t met them yet, but had seen them a couple of times. They were Asian. At the time I thought all Asians came from one country, Asia. Blame that on public school, that’s about what I knew about them.

I ws going to my Grandmother’s to watch baseball, I wasn’t witness to what began the first skirmish, but it seemed as though Mrs. Ling or possibly one of the Ling children had somehow invaded and clipped some of my Grandmother’s prized Violet Gazers. Roses from the Genus Rosaceae Viscultete, A particularly splendid and aromatic rose my Grandmother always prized in a vehement fashion.

I arrived just after the discord had began, but in time to see Mrs. Ling crying and running into their house and my Grandmother standing firm, almost like a garrison keeper over her prized bushes. 

Seconds later, Mr. Ling sprung from the doorway with all the grace and agility of a cheetah bred with a dragon. He moved with the type of grace and speed you knew he was confident to the gills. What I didn’t know, but I would find out soon was that Mr. Ling was one of the most famous and accomplished martial arts fighters ever to leave Japan. This is where they were from in Asia. I also learned this awhile later. 

Baseball could wait, I was overcome by my grandmother screeching at Mr. Ling and Mr. Ling retorting in a string of syllables and sounds that sounded more like a person speaking in tongues than an argument. What happened next was then, and to this day, still the greatest testament to zeal and ferocity I have ever imagined or witnessed.

From nowhere, my Grandmother lashed towards Mr. Ling with a flick from her watering can. Before the water had hit the ground, he had sprung into motion, he spun on a vertical and horizontal axis, yawing his body out of the way as he caught my Grandmother’s leading arm and sent the watering can spinning into the air. The speed he exhibited was unimaginable. Before the can hit the ground, he was back in his pose, like a coiled praying mantis. What was even more unbelievable was my Grandmother’s response. Without as much as a blink or wince, she sprung into the air and thrusted her arms towards his shocked defense, he rapidly, recoiled his defense to her machine gun onslaught. Bruce Lee would be proud. 

Of my Grandmother I mean.

I had seen a few Kung Fu, or Karate films at my age, but the display being put on just past my Grandmothers’ roses was nothing short of astonishing. Actually, it was beyond astonishing, it was unthinkable. Each one countered the others attacks with a wicked blur of speed and agility. I knew my Grandmother could type fast, but this was beyond anything imaginable. Watching her flip backward off the mulberry tree and come down on Mr. Ling’s head with a crushing elbow was sublime. He countered with a full spinning leg sweep as she leapt, cat-like into the air and connected with his left temple. He went down, in a crumple. My Grandmother stood over him and I’m sure flexed her muscles, or maybe it was just her adjusting her housedress from their skirmish. 

By this time Mrs. Ling and her children rushed to the aid of their fallen, and now humiliated Father. I would later discover Mr. Ling was one of the top martial arts fighters in the world. Yet he was beaten down by a nearly 60 year old Grandmother, over a discretion into her rose bushes. 

I was the only other witness to this epic fight, and in the years following, my Grandmother always maintained it never became violent, Mr. Ling never would speak of the incident, but he always bowed and subjugated in the presence of my Grandmother. She was the undisputed champion of the garden. There was never another ill word or action among them, and they both passed away as great friends. Mr. Ling spoke at my Grandmother’s funeral, saying she was the fiercest, most unrelenting woman he’d ever known. 

She did raise two children, on her own without a husband. She sent them to college and taught them to respect themselves and others, she had grandchildren and lived a long, complete life and grew flowers until the day she died. Best of all, she beat a Karate champion’s ass in her front yard when I was 9. 

If my Grandma, was still alive, I’d tell her one of the professional boxers had stolen some of her roses, just to see if I could get it on Pay-per-view.