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The early fist fighters had it right: life with a hair in the gate is just better. The dirtiest cracks and crummier spots to duke it out in. Gloves in the back pocket. Busted noses? Just a nuisance to forget about. Spit blood never tasted so glorious. And the pummeled breadbasket. And the crooked teeth jutting into fat lips. The bruises like spots on a dress, and eyes blacker than any mascara. We all hit the showers at some point. Jabbed to some sort of peace while the rivets of tattooed body blows name their places for keeps. Sparred to a white-collar, punch-drunk bum. A glass jaw for your comeuppance. Your only utensil’s a straw. Make like a degenerate jockey and fall to the dirt for good. A sucker’s moan. Another dope on the ropes. Hook and uppercut that haymaker’s tell from your footwork. A bloated smile. A roundhouse that’ll reel you to stars and tinsel. The count echoing towards double digits. A brisk slap, rocked and swiveled to a smack’s deliverance. The canvas’s plank-hard crash and you’re jostled to a blurry rigor mortis, head snaps back and springs wild, and then lies no longer bobbing but still. And you, of course, were robbed all along. And they’ll say, “She looked like Joan Jett and danced like Billy The Kid.” But the way you stuck and moved, and how you’d weave is no longer necessary. The Ring Girls have all gone for last call in Palookaville. Nobody’s asking you to sign gloves or step on any scales. Let the purse go to the corner men and the floppers and the bandy-legged no shows. No more roses tossed from ringside lovers. No more dives or doubts. We’ve got enough licks left in this jalopy for as many rounds in any ring that it takes to match the shine of what’s in your eyes. Be lady like? Fuck it. This one’s for the dogs who never made it out of the kennel. Come on, Fat Pants. Luck’s just another four-letter word. There are always less questions to ask. I’m lacing up one last “I Do” to go with all of the “I Could’ves” that you’d ever get to imagining. No more shoe shinning or skinning around. Take off your earrings and your tights and fight. I’m not sure there’s much less any of us can lose anymore. Toe to toe. No truces. No tricks. No tomorrow. Just like that. Got it?

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