"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves." --Rainer Maria Rilke (©julenisse/Fotolia)

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Shot in the Arm*


Some days my mind launches its own brainstorming session, making free associations which usually lead to crazy connections and long-buried memories. 

Yesterday I ruminated on brass knuckles.  

I had to slap myself and scream "Snap out of it!" like Cher and Nic Cage in Moonstruck, when brass knuckles led to brass monkey’s balls, which then led to witch’s tits. 

C’mon, it’s cold here... and it’s Halloween. 

Weird, right? The brass knuckles thought bubble stemmed from a desire to describe a particular agony. If I used idioms like “a ton of bricks” or “hit by a bus,” you’d know what I meant, but I like to avoid cliches when possible. 

Brass knuckles are a tool made of heavy metal with rounded rings. As described by firms that sell them on the web, brass knuckles “add power to your punch,” “make your fist rock solid,” and are “easy to conceal.” These fist-loading weapons are also known by euphemisms like “English punches” (jolly good!), “paperweights” (nice they have multiple uses), and “knuckle daggers” (which I initially misread as knuckle DRAGGERS). Some models actually have blades and points on them!

I was about 12 years old the one and only time I held a set of brass knuckles. They were high atop my parents’ chest-on-chest dresser. Lest you imagine my dad was a mobster or a G-man, this is the memory I conjured while musing about brass knuckles: 

My dad was acting in a community theater production of Wait Until Dark. He played a bad guy, the same character Jack Weston played in the film. Instead of “Sergeant” Carlino (the thug faked being a police detective), they changed my very Irish dad’s name to Carney. 

The brass knuckles were a prop. I remember handling them and my two brothers must have, as well. They were heavy and cold and exhilarating. Knowing my dad, who was a pacifist/anti-nuke kind of guy, he probably delivered an impassioned lecture on how the “knucks” were dangerous – even deadly – we were never to play with them… that violence was not the answer. It would have been very reverential. 

The “knucklebusters” eventually went back to prop storage, but not before we saw my dad on stage, which almost as exhilarating as holding a treacherous weapon. He even got to ad lib after nothing happed when he tried to flip on the lights in a victim’s apartment: “Ahhh, somebody betta call Con Ed…” 

But I digress.



I got the Covid booster. The next day and the day after (and we’ll just have to see), my arm felt like I’d been hit with… brass knuckles! That’s the metaphor.

It’s painful. I want to say it's killing me, but obviously it's not. To get down to brass tacks, it's better than being on a ventilator or causing you to be on a ventilator… Better than infecting my family during the holidays… And it beats being dead.  


*A shot in the arm means a stimulus, something that gives a person immediate energy or renewed enthusiasm.