I didn’t curse. I didn’t go full Bobby Knight and throw the closest untethered object. I didn’t cry. The blow that took me down came too quickly. All I could do was stare in shock.
I had a better reach, and handily outweighed my opponent. Weeks in the gym had me in decent fighting shape. This wasn’t my first rodeo – I am a veteran of many such fights. While I don’t always win, I seldom am beaten this badly. Scratch that – I have never been beaten this badly.
The worst part of it was, I nearly had the fight won. Victory was close enough to taste.
My opponent was tired. Each move he employed, I countered. I knew he would take advantage of any mistake on my part, so I couldn’t get over-confident. No coasting toward the end zone, the ball stripped away by an unseen defender as I started my touchdown dance at the five yard line.
The one tactic hadn’t expected was my undoing. Rather than keeping away from me, my opponent charged me. So quick was the move that I was unable to react in time. The pop of boxing glove leather has a flat, sickening sound. I had to take a standing 8 count. “One, two…”
Worse yet, my knockdown had been witnessed by my wife and her friend. I couldn’t face them. My hands shook. I had to turn my back to hide my disappointment …”six, seven, eight”. The bout was over. I lost.
In that moment I wanted to quit. To get back in my truck and drive away. I resisted the urge to run. This was only the first pool in the meadow, and the day was still young. I had hooked and lost a Rio Grande cutthroat of an honest 20 inches in a stream half as wide as as my rod was long. A fish of a lifetime – a fish I still see in my dreams.
But in the next pool mayflies started hatching, their upright wings like tiny sailboats…and another fish began to rise…. I could hear the announcer’s voice rise with him… “In this corner…..”