For years I hit myself. Always around the face, sometimes with an open hand but sometimes a clenched fist. I learned to duck a punch so that the blow glanced off my jaw, but then I’d counterpunch with a stiff forearm to straighten my head and then a left, right combination to the jaw. I hit myself hard enough to make my head ring. Sometimes I’d stay still and take a direct hit and leave myself woozy. I drew blood once, from the lip. 

Who hits himself? Well, I did. I hit myself for a variety of reasons, usually because I thought bad thoughts, and wanted to punish myself, or when I was trying to ward off trouble for someone I loved. I hit myself to save them pain, though this makes no sense. The person I wanted to help had no idea I was hitting myself, and in any case, the punches I took did nothing to prevent life from hitting them. We could both be beat up by the same event. Maybe I was trying to equalize the suffering, or wanted to ensure I didn’t get away with something when it appeared that I would.

I figured it was something I’d grow out of, though I didn’t. I still beat myself up. Maybe I hit myself before someone else could, to spare them the need? Maybe I figured I had it coming. I don’t remember when it began. I’ve punished myself for as long as I can remember. 

I hit myself when I was reasonably sure no one saw me doing it, but sometimes I was caught. I was always caught by women, which I find fascinating. Did men accept it because they do it themselves and know they deserve it? Or maybe no man ever saw me doing it. Dunno.

A few women did express curiosity about my punching regiment, but I don’t recall them asking me why I did it, except one. She may not have been the first to notice, but she was the first to ask: Why do you do that? 

She wasn’t my wife. We were driving in the middle of the night, from Illinois to St. Pete’s Beach, Florida on I-24 and had stopped somewhere outside Chattanooga for gas. We had taken her car, a red Mazda RX7. She loved that car, and I was surprised when she asked me to drive. I pumped gas while she fixed her makeup. I thought she wasn’t paying attention, so I started up. In those days the nozzles on gas hoses had trigger locks, leaving me hands-free. I began boxing myself. When I got back in the car, she asked me why I hit myself like that. I said I have lots of nervous energy and it’s gotta go somewhere. “Well,” she said, looking away, “you were rocking the car.” When I didn’t say anything, she added that other people were noticing too. I hadn’t known. I pulled back onto the interstate and she said, “Look, I don’t mind that you do that, if you must, but when you’re with me, I’d appreciate it if you stopped. It’s embarrassing. I can’t keep seeing you if you do that when I’m around, OK?” 

I was too embarrassed to answer, though I must have said something to convince her that I wouldn’t do it when anyone was watching, which wasn’t hard to promise, since that’s what I tried for all the time anyway. 

My kids never asked. They were good kids, though I rarely see them now, as they live far from me. Maybe they figured I deserved it, for the way I treated their mother, though they never said a word.

The woman on the Florida trip was tall and we almost saw eye to eye. We took another trip together to Hawaii six months later and this was our undoing. We visited three islands in ten days and made love in Oahu and Kauai. But on the last island, on the last night before we flew home, we hadn’t had sex and I wondered if we would. We fought nearly every day we were there, but the more we fought the better the sex, and on that last night we tore into each other like animals, acrobatic crazy desperate fucking. Her nails scratched long lines into my skin. Scratching, biting, ass-slapping honest sex in an otherwise dishonest relationship. Angry sex. Later I’d wonder if we fucked that last night because she wanted to be able to say she’d fucked on every island she’d visited in Hawaii and didn’t want to leave out Maui? Who knows. I don’t know where she is now, and there’s no way I’d ever want to talk to her, plus it’s not a question I’d want to ask. Who wants to give a reason for fucking? 

I never hit the Hawaii woman or any woman and very few men though I continued to hit myself. Though, it’s true, never again in front of her. I kept my promise. 

What I remember most about the Hawaii trip (other than the angry midnight fucking), was the second day on Oahu. We took a bus to the north shore to watch surfers ride the big waves. We’d spread our blankets on the hot sand and were lying there holding hands, my hand over hers. She wore a black and white bikini that I especially loved, and I admired the gentle swell of her hip and her two ass dimples, just above her bikini bottom, dimples I’d never noticed. I thought she was asleep, but she started fidgeting when I clasped her hand inside mine. She was a champion racquet ball player, and her hands were strong and as large as mine. She let go of my hand for an instant, then gripped it tight, placing her hand over mine. “You’re ruining my tan,” she said. 




Image: photo by Danijel Škabić on Unsplash, licensed under CC 2.0.

Joey DeFrancesco
Latest posts by Joey DeFrancesco (see all)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.