It all began one fateful night. As my thumb flicked the channel button on my remote at its usual rapid pace, cutting through a clutter of idiotic programs, my eye caught a glimpse of two bloodied up combatants in an octagon, giving no quarter. This was Bonnar vs. Griffin catapulting MMA into orbit.
Lightning struck that night. A tingling sensation permeated my body. I found myself talking to the TV, yelling at the ref, shadow boxing in time to the butterflies jumping around my belly. When Griffin was declared the winner I cheered, when Bonnar was declared the loser, I mourned.
The next day I woke up with a funny feeling in my gut. The feeling was strange and yet familiar, somewhat like discovering sex the first time. I told my wife about it. She gave me a pitiful look, shook her head and exclaimed, “Midlife crisis”!!! I answered “honey, I had that ten years ago, the motorcycle remember?”
As the next few days tuned into weeks, the feeling persisted. I tried to ignore it, but my efforts were pathetic at best. I began systematically and methodically scouring the internet for any tidbits on MMA, UFC, fighter stats etc.
Before I knew it, I found myself in my first Muay Thai class, wearing 16 ounce gloves and head gear, sparring with a 22 year old testosterone pumped, ink covered Latino, peppering me with stinging jabs and painful liver shots. He didn’t seem to care that I was twice his age, old enough to be his father. As a matter of fact, he seemed to relish giving me a whooping. I don’t think he liked his father.
I arrived home with a huge welt on my ribcage and a mouse under my eye. My wife was livid, “Have you completely lost your mind? You could’ve gotten killed,” she blurted. That’s when it dawned on me, as I responded with one word “exactly”!!!!
Now don’t get me wrong. I do not suffer from a death wish. I had just arrived at an earth shattering moment in my life. I now understood that what I was feeling, was life in its purest form; unadulterated primal, raw and unforgiving. Decades of sense numbing conditioning, plaguing every working stiff in America, was swept away by 15 minutes of adrenaline charged MMA fighting. The added benefit of a few wells placed punches to my face and ribcage by my Latino “friend” , rattled my medulla oblongata just enough. Out went the cobwebs of complacency, whining and boredom. In slipped something I had forgotten existed, passion!!!
My wife is now an MMA fan, which is great, because it makes my addiction more tolerable. We never miss a UFC, Affliction or Strikeforce show. I still fervently practice Muay Thai, now holding my own against the 22 year olds. I wear my occasional black eye as a badge of honor.
I am proud to say I am now a recovering addict. Friday and Saturday nights belong to my wife, if she wants them. I can live with that, as long as I remember to hit the record button.