It was the night of the Old Folks’ party, a muggy evening in late August, the perfect opportunity to drape ourselves with way too much clothing, holding on to the misguided sartorial belief that no amount of money was too much to spend on a night of novelty. Around eleven that night, just as things were starting to loosen up from one too many highballs, I decided to throw caution to the wind and punch the oldest man in the garden square in the nose.
It was a good punch, too. I got the entirety of my weight behind it and harnessed my sudden impulsive rage to clench my fist with the steadfastness of a steel trap. Some who were standing nearby have since told me I flailed my back leg in an effeminate fashion, and this gave them the impression that it was “a sissy little slug,” as they later called it. Don’t believe them, I’m not likely to ever hit anyone harder than I hit the near-elderly gentleman in the three-piece brown suit at that moment.
As to why it would suddenly occur to me to be reduced to fisticuffs in what would otherwise be a pleasant affair, he knows why. I think I caught his name about twenty minutes before said episode; it sounded something like Claude. I could’ve sworn that was it. Truth be told, I was a few steps ahead in the inebriation sprint than anyone else in the vicinity. So I like to tear loose once in a while, and pocket watches put me in that sort of mood. Sue me.
Claude knew why I, without warning, flew at him with my singular fist of fury. He knew he was running the risk of just such a happenstance when he decided to pretend he wasn’t the closest to the grave of all of us by at least a good twenty years. You don’t simply waltz into a soiree of my friends and ply your elderly trade on my girl. Anyone with half a brain could tell you this. Claude had half a brain, or so I concluded through the thickening fog of manhattans. His hands are not clean in this matter. He deliberately provoked the response he had to have predicted from me.
So we reach the point when the unstoppable force known as my right fist meets with Claude’s distinguished, wrinkling proboscis. What I hadn’t been properly informed of that night, what no one could have guessed, is the Claude happened to possess the toughest nose in the known world. I’ve tried to rack my brain in the weeks since, to find some answer as to how one goes about exercising their nose. I can’t for the life of me ascertain how a nose can turn itself into hardened concrete without the aid of (seemingly unnecessary) surgery.
The upshot of this story is that you never know whom you’re punching in the face. You can go about your business, throwing jabs at whomever you like, but sooner or later you will land hard. Sooner or later you will ruin an Old Folks’ party.