Monday, 2 October 2006

The Story of the Time I Almost Got My Ass Kicked by Mike Tyson

Where to begin with this story? That's the question that has haunted, nay, taunted, me since I first mentioned it on this blog so long ago. I thought that the muse would one day sing to me, revealing the true path forward for this tale of our times. Yet here we are, months later, with nary a word said of Mike Tyson and his near ass-kickery of yours truly, and undoubtedly you, gentles reader (plural form), are the ones who are suffering.

But, you must know, regardless of the fairness of your sex, that there is, behind every man, a woman. And who better to tell this one than Sarah — for the tale begins, and, in a way, ends, with her. So here is the bold and beautiful Sarah to fulfil this expectation.

The Mike Tyson Story proper begins in the Albuquerque airport, or more to the point, on a Southwest Airlines flight leaving that noble locale. It was June of 2004 and I was heading home to Los Angeles; my mother and I had met in Albuquerque to have a week of private training sessions with Model Mugging (the self-defense system which features in Wesley's French Stewart / Dennis Hopper story, oddly enough). For some reason my normal hyper-vigilance had deserted me (I expect I was half-hoping someone would try and attack me so that I could open up an ASBO-size can of whoop-ass), but at any rate I missed the first and second calls to board the plane and thus ended up in the very last row of seats.

Fortunately for me, the row was otherwise empty, although the two seats across the aisle from me were blocked off with some weird kind of crime-scene-ish tape. This was whisked away as the last passenger came on board the flight and was guided towards the rear by a phalanx of Southwest employees in yellow jumpers.

Absolutely no way in hell, I thought as Mike Tyson was seated across from me, wearing a baseball cap and a white shirt embroidered with flowers. This is a seriously unlikely situation, I thinks, what is Mike Tyson doing on Southwest, and in that shirt for that matter? Doesn't this guy maintain his own fleet of gold-plated helicopters? Filled with Cristal and albino tiger cubs, just for the petting? I swear I read something about that in People at some point. This has got to be a mistake.

But the guy is pretty distinctive, what with the tribal facial tattoos he's sporting these days, and the Southwest guy called him 'Mr. Tyson' so I was convinced. But nonetheless a bit confused, and I spent the next hour and a half sneaking looks at him over the top of my Quaker Reader while he stared blankly at the seat-back in front of him.

This was of course the first thing I mentioned to Wesley when I got off the plane (Big M had stayed back for a while for some reason). And of course he didn't believe me at first, like he tends not to when I have such a fantastic tale as sitting across from Mike Tyson in a flowerdy shirt or seeing a two-horned narwhal skeleton (to be fair I think it was my elaborate description of Mr. T's shirt - 'with little pink and yellow tulips, I swear' - that instilled the doubt).

But as in all these situations, he came to Believe when he spotted Mike Tyson in the flesh, waiting for his luggage at the carousel. Being a cool Angelino, he cast me a glance full of wonder and repentance (hey, it's my story), but said nothing out loud - at least until we had collected all our gear and were on the way out, by which time we'd lost sight of the former heavyweight champion.

Pushing our cart around one of the massive concrete pillars that litter the baggage area I finally burst out with something stupid like, 'See, I told you it was Mike Tyson. And I told you he was wearing that shirt.' And Wesley replied, 'I know it, doll, and [despite modest forbearance I must confess his exact words] it sure was faggoty-ass.' And with this last we rounded the pillar straight into the on-coming path of the man himself.

In these sorts of moments the Hail Mary's just start automatically (thanks, Sisters!), and unbidden, the thought entered my mind that Nordstrom is probably the best place to go for widow's weeds.

I mean, really, if you sat down and thought about it - and here I challenge you to sit down and think about it - can you think of anyone whose shirt it would be
worse to describe, in his hearing, as 'faggoty-ass' than Mike Tyson's? But no Nordstrom for me that day, and no need for a brave Christopher-Reeve's-wife-style support of my quadraplegic man, because Mike just seemed to stare at us with the same glazed look as that earned by the Southwest seat-back. Maybe those anger-management classes actually paid off for him, or maybe he just thought Wesley said something else, since my husband lives to this day. So there's the Mike Tyson story.

Addendum to T.S.o.t.T.I.A.G.M.A.K.b.M.T.

I feel that I should explain myself for the remark quoted in the previous story. As those of you of my acquaintance will attest, I do not, as a rule, go hither and yon bandying gaily about the term "faggoty-ass". And I would take care to distance myself from its unfortunate use by those who might seek to denigrate gay men in our society. I certainly meant no offense to the homosexual population, and I indeed use the term with some irony, having been branded with it on a near-daily basis in high school gym class as a boy.

Further, I would like to note that I have many gay, black, Gypsy and Japanese friends, including one whose job is to determine the sex of poultry.

But man, was that one gay-ass shirt.



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