OK, so maybe I've finally hit rock bottom. In all of my years of slugging it out in the ring of low-market pseudojournalism, memoiring my own mishaps in a manner far more destructive than literary, I have heretofore avoided this particular level of strip-mall populism. Until now I have not scraped my Lee press-ons beneath the feces and the alligators in the gutter, onto the very sediment of wretched, motionless and pointless being. Until now.
To prepare myself for the wonder that is the Monday Night Fights at (cough) The Roxy -- the popular amateur (immature?) boxing event that has forever lived like a canker sore on Bennett Road -- I called up its henchman, Dirty Jim. No stranger to dirt myself, I figured we might hit it off, although I would never preface my name with the term "dirty," nor would I ever get it on with a first name like "Jim."
But said Monster of the Midday (and here I think of "Party Monster" and throw my boxed self into the Hudson) isn't much for my playful banter. Probably because it's neither playful or banter. I'm clearly out of my element here. A construction worker might be more in order. A really hot construction worker. Mmmmm.
"Well, you know it's the last night we're doing it," he hammers my nail.
"Um, why?" I pretend to care. "Is its popularity failing?"
"Shit no, we've been doing it for six years," he inserts obscenity for effect. "It's just that they've passed a law that there's no more amateur boxing."
Pity. Seems that some ingenious woman was killed in some kind of kiddy-pool Jell-O wrestling incident somewhere in Florida's enlarged lower thigh, Fort Myers or something. She's ruined it for all of us, the white-trash bitch.
I, concerned citizen that I am, quiz Mr. Dirty about the hazards of his signature event, hoping for ambulances, or, better, coffins.
"No, no," he might be lying. "The funny thing is, we used to bring out this arm-wrestling thing in the middle of the night, and that's the one time in six years that anyone's been injured."
That is funny. But why the hell do people do this, anyway?
"For all my life, I don't understand it to this day, but I think it's a chance to showcase a little machismo for some people, and for some it's the beer, the babes and the chance to get up there and see what it's like," he beers, then babes. "I don't know. I really don't understand. It's something I would never do."
Then he launches into something about girl-fights being the biggest draw, a four-babe tag team, hair and boobs a-flyin'.
"Will there be something equally aggro to replace this institution?"
"Oh, I don't really know," he answers. "But 'aggro' is such a cool word. Thank you for using it."
"OK, then, say 'rad.'"
Grabbing one of my more substantial friends for fear of being beaten up before I get in the door, I head for the decline of Western civilization, and, well, Monday Night Fights at the Roxy.
We arrive in time for an awkward preshow of padded jousting, designed, presumably, to warm up the crowd, or simply distract them long enough until they're drunk, rowdy and stupid to the blood alcohol level required for some serious leveling. An annoying VJ type -- think Carson Daly, only gayer -- plays circus sideshow hawk in the middle of the makeshift boxing ring. Tellingly, he's not very successful at getting volunteers.
"You want your wife to fight?" he begs. "Or do you want to fight your wife?"
Predictable homophobia trickles through the bombast with terms like "gay" and "Southern Nights" being thrown like punches in a Fort Myers Jell-O pool. "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" by Drowning Pool drowns out the standard-issue "who, me?" rubbernecking of the slowly filling room. And I want to die.
"If nobody jousts, I'll probably be fired," Mr. Mouth assumes his fate. Just got the memo: You already are. Nonetheless, two sorority girls effectively destroy each other with padded sticks while their boobs fall out of their sparkly boob-wrapping. Surprise.
By the time the real boxing is about to begin, Dirty Jim has already wafted by me at the bar, taking not even a second for a polite hello. See you in the ring, bitch.
Well, not really. Seems everybody who's signed up to make an ass of themselves in this really bizarre form of Santerian karaoke is named Manuel, and I'm not. An obligatory giant-screen replay of Whitney Houston's "Star-Spangled Banner" is beamed overhead, and I feel the sudden urge to run for the bathroom ... just like everybody else with shiny shirts and runny noses.
Dirty Jim assumes his position at center ring, wearing a shirt with silver inlays and blue jeans, something like a Fire Island version of Jimmy Buffet. He and Black Bean (ahem) will emcee the remainder of the madness with all the charm of a toenail, while Hooters girls wearing napkins will walk around with "Round 1, 2, 3" placards. Me, I'm drawn to the really hot bartender dispensing my standard dosage. I shouldn't be here.
I make a vain attempt to scrub by Dirty Jim for a quick quote, only to find that he and his bean-like cronies are sectioned off by velvet ropes. Velvet was really big on Fire Island, I hear.
Oh, and "Eye of the Tiger" is playing really loud. Really.
By the time I catch a glimpse of a squarehead donning a T-shirt that reads "Been there, wrecked that," I start to get the feeling that I've been and I've wrecked enough. A bodacious bartendress clocks my pen-to-pad dysfunction, and mentions that she thinks the Weekly is distributed around UCF, so she might read it. Her name is Andrea. And I like her.
Which means I have to go.