At my son’s karate lesson last night I was treated to this little gem from Master Brian:
“So Bahk Do evolves, constantly changing, under the Grand Master’s guidance.”
I think he was offering this as a justification as to why the formerly named “death chop”, a motion involving a quick jab of the left leg into the throat of the opponent, was recently renamed the “left leg high jab”. Sounds much more conciliar, doesn’t it?
In other news, I had a Dad moment on our way into the rec center for the aforementioned karate lesson. By the way, Master Brian is one strange cat. Anyway, my son is showing a bit of apprehension toward this whole karate thing. Getting out of the car he said something to me that belied his sense of fear. “Daddy, karate is a little hard…” I could tell what he was getting at and it made me feel a little sad and a little uneasy. You see, I can already spot things like when one of my kids is exhibiting a trait that I might also happen to carry. He’s nervous because in the first two classes he doesn’t have the moves perfectly right. I tried my best to find a way to tell him that it was OK to be scared, that most of the kids in his class, although around the same age as him, have been doing this for a while and that the class is literally the same thirty minutes repeated every week. It wasn’t working. So I tried something else.
“OK, son, let me tell you a story. You know that Daddy plays the piano, right? Well I started playing it when I was your age and sometimes I had to perform at recitals. I was very scared because I didn’t think I would be as good as the other people playing. But Grandma made me stick with it.”
I think he started to understand. So I added,
“And then I reached an age where I realized that I just don’t care. I’m good at what I do and if you don’t like it you can go scratch. And guess what? I still get a little nervous when I play. It’s called psychological continuance or some crap. Why do you think Daddy keeps that brandy snifter on the piano? It sure isn’t for tips, I’ll tell you that.”
I continued on, rambling to myself, but I think the boy got my point.
“One Christmas morning I was asked to ‘play us some carols’ as if I’m a trained freakin’ monkey. YOU play some carols, lady, I’m opening presents!”
We walked into the gym and he took off his shoes. Karate is done barefoot. Not sure why. He took his place and seemed a lot more at ease now. I turned to the Indian woman sitting next to me.
“Do you know what that’s like? To be treated like a piece of meat? Apparently my fingers are magical! And I can just MAKE them orchestrate black and white sticks into any song I damn well please!”
She looked a bit confused but that’s only because she didn’t share my love of the English language (or my knowledge thereof). My son looked across the floor at me as Master Brian spouted his BS about the evolution of a death-sport. He gave me the thumbs up. I could tell he was doing fine. So I turned back to the Indian woman. She shook her head “no” and looked down at the floor. I reached down and grabbed the middle of the seat upon which I was sitting, sliding it and myself around her to the man on her other side.
“Dude, seriously, does it say Van Cliburn across my head? No, really, is there a tattoo there that I’m missing? What the hell Mom? Just play us a song. And you wonder why I throw up when I hear Piano Man on the radio. Well, yes, it is mostly because I can’t stand Billy Joel but so what?”
Before I knew it, thirty minutes had passed. I collected my son and his shoes. The gentleman who had been listening to me (and who, it turns out, was the husband of the Indian woman) stood up and said (in broken English): “Thank you very much, sir, I hate America.” Son and I walked over to Master Brian to turn in some paperwork. My son looked up at me.
“Daddy?” He motioned me to stoop down to his level. “Daddy, I have to tell you something.”
I complied by bending down low. He placed his hand over my mouth and said “Stop talking now.”
I think I’ll bust out some of my old sheet music and drink.
*Portions of this broadcast not affecting the outcome have been wholly fabricated.