Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

Golden Showers and A Broken Nose

by | Jan 7, 2022 | Society | 0 comments

“Have you ever been punched in the face?” my friend asked me over shots of Clase Azul tequila at the infamous The Office on the Beach in Cabo San Lucas.

“Are you kidding me?” I retorted back to her. “Of course I have been punched in the face. Have you not met me?” Being punched in the face is an occupational hazard of running your mouth. Your mouth is what gets punched because it is the body part associated with a lack of filter.”

I spared her the details of the times I had been beaten up, mostly because she didn’t ask any follow-up questions.

Most of the fights I was in I’ve already forgotten, and not because of blacking out or concussions. I have forgotten those because they were not memorable. You fight a lot when you are in an all-boys school. It’s just what you do.

I still remember the one fight I believe is responsible for my snoring and the incessant elbowing my wife gives me when I snore in the middle of the night.

I was walking down the street with two of my friends when I ran into a schoolmate who was two grades higher than me. We used to joke a lot in school, and I thought it would be okay to call him a marica in public.This was not my proudest moment, but in the late ’90s in Colombia, we weren’t as informed as to how not okay it was to call someone a sissy.

Herbert was walking back from the store with his older brother and carrying a bag of groceries. When I called him a sissy, he stopped and asked his brother to hold his bag. He walked towards me and, with his two hands, grabbed the back of my head and pushed it towards his rocketing knee. I was able to block the knee, but when I looked up, my nose chewed the knuckle sandwich he had prepared for me.

You might think, “wow, a sandwich. How considerate?” That’s just a poetic license I have given myself to say I was punched right in the fucking nose. I also thought it was a low shot because my nose was very hard to miss, and a punch to the eye would’ve been less aesthetic for a few weeks, but at least it would not have been as messy as breaking my nose was.

The blood didn’t wait to start gushing out.

Luckily, Herbert decided to stop his beating there and keep walking. I would not have been able to defend myself, as I couldn’t see anything with all the blood.

My two friends stood there paralyzed by what went down. They helped me the five blocks back home while I held my head high. I didn’t know you needed to hold your head down to stop the bleeding.

Doña Ali was standing next to the porter at the entrance of my building. She saw the blood and asked me what had happened.

“I got into a fight.”

“Did you win?”

I was confused. Did she not see all the blood in my shirt? Maybe by itself, the blood could’ve been confused with the mess of an exploding bottle of ketchup. But my head was positioned to imitate a birder with a midlife crisis and that should’ve given it away.

“No, I don’t think so.”

“That’s too bad,” was her uninterested response.

That was my first encounter with my neighbor Doña Ali — a widow who lived in the apartment next to ours. The other apartment on our floor was permanently empty since the last owner lost it to the bank.

Somehow, my family befriended her, which gave me access to her late husband’s library. She let me borrow anything I wanted, and she only had one rule, “only one book at a time.”

Having access to this library was perfect for me because my grandpa took me to the bookstore to buy books, but only once a month. That wasn’t enough when I was on break from school. I needed more books and Doña Ali’s library solved that.

When I was a teenager, I loved reading. I didn’t write much. Maybe nothing at all. I just read. I still remember Jorge Luis Borges quote “Que otros se jacten de las páginas que han escrito; a mí me enorgullecen las que he leído”. (Let others brag over the pages they’ve written. I’m proud of the ones I’ve read. The words of the Argentinian author resonated with me. He had more quotes about how much more he liked reading over writing.

I found myself telling people how I wished for a job that would pay me to read. I didn’t look for such a job and, instead, when the time came, I folded to our society’s demands that require everybody to turn into an engineer. I didn’t know editors get paid to read. But that was probably better in the long run anyway because everybody hates editors — especially writers.

I ran into my tormentor again during my sixth semester in engineering school. It had been probably six years since he broke my nose, and now we were in the same Differential Equations class.

One time, he approached me after class and asked me to tutor him. There was no mention of the time when he broke my nose. I dropped my books, and I punched him square in his nose this time.

I’m kidding.

I didn’t. Neither did I want to. My all-boys schoolyard shenanigans were out of my system by the time I made it to college. After that punch, I never called anyone a sissy, and I have never been punched in the nose. Maybe just a coincidence. But if I ever do get punched again, I know that I will hold my head down to stop the bleeding.

Instead of exacting revenge, I invited him to join my study group, and he and all of my friends got along. We spent many all-nighters together. He passed the class largely thanks to me. A course that he had already failed once. That’s how I repay people that break my nose; I advance their academic ambitions. So far, only one person. But it was still a brave act of civility. I wouldn’t be surprised if I won the Nobel prize.

I forgave him because what are you going to do? Boys will be boys.

People hate this saying; they criticize it as a semantic artifact that provides sanctuary for boys to be sexist chauvinists. I think the expression is just a euphemism because people want to, but can’t, say, “boy are fucking horrible monsters!” And we are. We are one fucking mess!

And forgiving Herbert was just the way we boys acted back then.

Violence amongst boys happens. It happened with some of my other guy friends. It happened with Juan Felipe, too. I remember putting Pipe in a headlock until he passed out. I don’t feel too bad for Pipe because he punched me several times in other fights we had.

He also was insane.

Once, we climbed to the roof of the bodega attached to our building. I thought we were just climbing a roof where we were not supposed to be. Until I saw Pipe pull out his wiener and start peeing on all the unsuspecting customers underneath. People would’ve probably thought that it was just a little rain if it wasn’t because he couldn’t control his violent and maniacal fits of laughter.

Don’t feel bad for the customers either because I knocked him out. Remember?

Boys will be boys applies because girls are not natural-born horrible monsters. Or how many girls do you know that are horrible like that?

Pipe and I had a litany of misadventures that, in my mind, solidified that boys are just a fucking mess. Or how many girls do you know that hunt for frogs to crucify with hanging nails so they resemble the paintings in church? Or how many girls would think it is a good idea to get into a rock-throwing fight with the kids from the nearby homeless encampment?

Anyways, where were we?

Oh, yeah, books!

A bookstore somewhere in Hillcrest, California. Photo by author.

Our love of books is seasonal and cyclical, as relationships between boys are. It experiences ups and downs. Maybe not in the same violent way but it does.

We love books, and we miss the free abandonment we read when we were younger. We always had a book on hand, but it has been quite some time since we even opened one.

You probably still remember the time when you stop reading as much. For me, it was my wife’s first pregnancy. I was still reading but reading about home-births didn’t feel like reading.

Then with my shrinking time, I had to decide between reading and writing, and I chose writing because somewhere along the line, I became conceited, and instead of saying to myself, “I wish I could find a job where I would get paid to read.” I told myself, “when are people going to wake up and realize I am a genius and shower me with their hard-earned rubles so I can just write while I look through my monocle and fiddle my top hat.”

You probably feel the same way, and unfortunately, I don’t have a listicle to help you fix that. I can’t help you achieve fame even though it will help you squash your existential angst and that black hole in your soul staring at you every morning in the mirror.

But hopefully, I can help you read a bit more. I won’t promise you that this will help you stay out of trouble. After all, I read a lot growing up and still found time to get punched right on my Snuffleupagus’ schnozzle.


Book Suggestions

Happy New Year. Petaluma, California. Photo by author.

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