Today marks the beginning of round forty four in my bout with Father Time. It is a long time, by a nine year old’s reckoning, but to me it seems as if no time has passed at all. I can remember every round, well, almost every round.
When that first bell rang and for the next few rounds I came out strong and had him on the ropes quite a few times. Somehow he always managed to make it to the bell and stagger back to his corner. Not too bad for an old guy, I have to say.
I would sit in my corner in those days and watch as his corner men, Fate and Free Will, worked on him, rubbing his boney shoulders, holding up two fingers in front of him and asking him if he knew his own name. Yeah, I came on strong early, but he took it and when that bell rang next he was back up, every time.
During the early rounds the odds were in my favor, but around round sixteen he took a new tact. Taking a page from Free Will’s playbook, he decided to hang back and lead me, drawing me out, allowing me to be the instrument of my own destruction. He employed the usual methods; liquor, fast cars, tobacco, a myriad of things, some of which I care not to dwell on.
I kept coming out of my corner, but I was distracted. I could not lay a glove on the cagey S.O.B. During these rounds I listened less to the people in my own corner, which of course did not help. It went on this way for quite some time. Oh, I knew who I was, and I could count the fingers, but old man Time was playing the long game now, working me slow. He had me then and I did not even realize it.
Somewhere around round thirty he got in a wicked left hook. I was staggered. It was a real bell-ringer, and now it was me stumbling to my corner, dazed. Were there three fingers…four? For just a couple of minutes there I might as well have been Abe Lincoln or the Easter Bunny. Mr. Time had decided to step up the action, and he had come out to clean my clock.
For about three rounds he drove me up against the ropes, occasionally sending me right out of the ring into the stands. He was without pity. It was then that I discovered the ruthless bastard was just as good as a south paw as he was with the right. He had changed the game once again and it was all I could to keep my hands up and keep him from driving me to the mat. He would come in hard and I would get him into a clinch so I could catch my breath. Life, always the impartial referee, would break us up and that cantankerous old pugilist would come right back at me.
Well, needless to say, this got old. Just before round thirty three, sitting in my corner, I decided to get my shit together. No more would I fall for the strategies Time was using, coached by Free Will. Tobacco, no more, alcohol, while not gone, was given a back seat to career and mental focus and I at least made some attempts to regain the vigor of youth.
I came out hard in round thirty three and went at him. It was a rough round for both us. I had caught him off guard, but he still had a few tricks, and of course he was still as tough a beef jerky left on the dashboard in July. The round ended and I felt spent, but when I returned to my corner I found someone new there. She was magnificent, and she was there for me.
For the next eight rounds the good Father and I went at it, both pacing our selves and suffering our own setbacks and victories. He still seemed to have a slight advantage over me, but I had her in my corner, and knowing that drove me on.
Then, around round forty two, my corner man, well, corner woman, and I decided the Father Time needed to be put down, hard. Round forty two saw a new clean diet and a new passion for fitness and vitality. When I came out that round I saw in Father Time’s eye something I had not seen in many rounds. I would not call it fear, because that ancient bastard fears nothing. No, it was more like respect.
It has been two rounds since we changed our strategy, and now, every round old Time and I stand toe to toe. The exchanges are fast and brutal, but now I can handle the pace. I will keep at it. I know this is not a fight I can win with a KO, no one does. I can’t win that way, but I will not be fooled by the trickeries of Free Will again, I certainly will not throw in the towel, and I sure as hell will not lose by a TKO. I will go to the end of this fight, and maybe, just maybe, I will win by decision.
For my corner woman.