“How did you do that?” Merle, my decidedly better half, asked me while resting my injured hand in hers and staring at the purple bubble of skin on the back of it. Sifu opened for training today, despite the closure of city schools – a first, as far as I know. So I did what I normally do on a Monday.
“It happened on a slam,” I answered, expecting that to be the end of the questioning.
“A slam? How’d you get an injury there on a slam?”
“I was trying not to crush the knuckle I always hurt on this hand during slams by connecting with the floor on the flat of my fingers. But that just crushed the knuckles at the other end of the finger, which apparently made the hand swell.”
“You can’t do the slams like that.”
“Well, I know that now.”
“So did you ice it?”
“Yeah, a little bit. But I had to get back.”
“You kept doing slams?
“Yeah. I can’t not practice the slams; I mean there are too many other things to get right during slams then just the slam itself. Is the knee pointed forward? Is the staff straight when I’m spinning it behind me?”
“I know,” she said, completely familiar with what I meant, having learned the staff years before I did. “I just would have thought a bruise like this would end the night’s practice.”
I looked at her as if she’d just spoken to me in Greek.
“Oh my God,” she mumbled, putting her head in her hands. She’d obviously remembered who she was talking to and realized how highly improbable it was that a bruise on my hand would cut short a night’s training. “Okay. I’m going back upstairs now,” she said making a few steps of the ascent. She was stopped in the stairwell when Ava practically ran her down coming the other direction. So she was still standing on the stairs when Aaron walked up to the three of us and I asked him:
“Can you show me how to pick you up for a take down?”
“NO!” Merle shouted in her sternest I’ve-had-enough-of-this tone.
“I don’t know, Mom,” Aaron answered, looking pensive.
“I know,” Merle interjected. NO!”
“I was thinking about auditing a Sancho class, but I should probably be sure I can do a take down before I try.” I could tell by Merle’s expression that my explanation was so far from satisfactory that it wasn’t even funny.
“I can teach you to do a one-legged take down,” Aaron said, ignoring the marital tension, “but I can’t even do two. I’m probably the second lightest person in the class. I can’t really pick anybody up.”
“It’s all in the knees – the knees,” Merle emphasized, “and you want to pick this boy up with your knees and your back.”
“Whoa,” Ava chimed in, contorting her neck to examine my half purple hand more closely.
“Okay. Never mind.” I turned my attention to my daughter, whose expression was growing more horrified by the second. “You’re looking at my hand with ‘eeew’ written all over your face. Cut it out,” I said with a chuckle.
After a few moments of discussing my second slamming mishap in as many training days, I could feel Merle’s stare raining down from the upper steps. I looked up at her expectantly.
“I’m not going anywhere until you step away from your son. You’re going to try to pick him up the minute – ”
“No, I’m done with that idea. Every once and a while I watch Aaron in Sancho class, and I think I want to try it. Tonight was one of those. But don’t worry. I’m done.”
“Okay,” she said with suspicion in her voice, and I knew we were both thinking the same thing: Done? That’ll be the day.