When I was a teenager, the movie Rocky IV made me want to become a boxer. I wanted to train in Siberia, running on ice and through mounds of snow, working out in a barn, chopping wood to transform my stick-thin form into that inflated chest, those six-pack abs, that glistening skin. I wanted to be wrapped in an American flag and wearing American flag boxing shorts. I wanted to avenge the death of Apollo Creed. I wanted to take my shots at a tall blond Belarusian putz like Ivan Drago who thinks he’s a steel cold-blooded fighting machine.
When that movie was released I was just 14. My Christmas list that year was boxing gloves, a punching bag, silk boxing shorts, boxing shoes, and, of course, the Rocky IV soundtrack. I didn’t get any of these things, so I had to gamble at school playing cards to get the cash. Two weeks later, the basement became a training gym. I placed my Pioneer boom box on the dryer and blasted Survivor’s “Burning Heat” and “Man Against the World” as I danced and punched. I closed my eyes and there came a montage, memories of me and Apollo, Adrian, and Paulie, and I’m pounding the bag, beating a snearing, towering, immovable Drago into a pile of glass-jawed gooey commie.
So, on a day when I was really getting my eye of the tiger, my rhythm was disrupted. Mom, banging on the basement door, get ready to go to Sizzler for dinner. Steaks and potatoes, all you can eat salad and fried shrimp. We’ll be sitting at the table, our red table tent displaying our order number, and Dad’ll ask, how’s your day, and that’s when I’ll proclaim, call me Stallion, folks, call me Stallion.