Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Young Men and Trouble

Ah, youth. I'm so glad it's gone in some ways and so miss it in others.
I got up for a 3 AM trip to the john and see the light in my son Italo's room on, so I peeked in. He was sitting on his bed, eyes wide. His girl, who lives with us, was nowhere in sight. I asked why he wasn't sleeping and he answered tensely that he wasn't sleepy.
I asked again, got the same answer and went back to bed on the couch in my office where I sleep. At some point I woke to see Sarah coming in--the front door of the house is in the office--and the next time I woke it was 5:30 and Chepa was coming in with Sierra, her new baby, and Madeleina, our 10-year old. Chepa drops off the kids, makes a fruit juice and lunch for herself and leaves for work.
Ten minutes later in comes Italo. I asked where he'd been; turns out he was upset with Sarah for being out with her girlfriends so late that he didn't sleep with her but went instead to Chepa's. (Okay, so the family is a little crazy like that, with the kids having two houses, Chepa's and mine, and running between the two of them.)
Anyway, he sits on the couch in the office where Madeleina and Sierra were sleeping, waking them both. And I'm making coffee. And I know he wants to talk but he was making me wait. I asked what was wrong and he said nothing. About three times over 15 minutes, while the girls ran around. So we were more or less having a 6 AM party in the office and finally Italo talks.
Turns out that he went to his first strip club last night with his cousin Renz and a couple of friends. Five buck admission, two beers each.
He said there was a guy at a nearby table who kept having girls come over to him and dance for him--I explained what lap dances and $20 bills were--and he said that at first the guy was cool. He was laughing and making jokes with my son and his pals.
Later, when his table was leaving, the guy left as well. Italo said that the two cars he and Renz and the others came in happened to be parked right next to the guy's car and the guy left when they did so they all basically wound up walking through the parking lot together.
But he said the guy--he described him as a huge, cut guy with lots of arm tatoos--went from being friendly to leaning over Renz and asking him if he had all the money. Renz said no and moved away. Then Italo said they guy moved over and leaned over him--Italo is a brilliant athlete and strong as a snake but only 5 foot 8 or so and maybe 145 pounds. No fat, just several hours a day of semi-pro soccer. Anyway, the guy leaned over and asked him if he had all the money. He says he joked that they spent all their money in the club.
Then he says the guy blind-sided him with a punch to his ribs (I think he might have cracked one or two). Italo said it came out of nowhere and he responded with a lashed out punch to the guy's face. "The guy went down dad. I mean like he was out."
The guy got up in a few seconds--during which Italo's crowd got into their cars to go--and came after Italo. Italo says he hit him again, the guy went down again, and this time Italo got into the car and he and Renz and friends left by the time the guy got up and started chasing them, this time with a knife in his hand.
Anyway, so Italo's got this busted hand, maybe busted ribs and he's pissed off at his girl.
It's only the second fight I've known him to be in, and the first was protecting a friend. I'm real pround that he knows how to handle himself. I'm glad he's got the reflexes of a pro athlete and the quickness of a cat.
I'm glad he didn't get hurt worse than he did.
I remember being that age. I remember being blindsided by people you were talking with on Manhattan streets. Sometimes it came out of nowhere. It seems to me that phase of living didn't pass till I was about 30. Long time to have to have the eyes in the back of your head open.
I'm glad he's okay. I'll feel better when he and Marco reach 30 or so.
And I hope he doesn't go back to that joint and run into that guy again.

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