Nekked Fighting

The ultimate element of surprise

By Beth MacDonald

Occasionally, I find myself in places where strange things happen so frequently no one bats a silky, fake eyelash at them. New York City, for example. I have never been surprised to see a citizen dressed as Superman directing traffic with ping-pong paddles. Washington, D.C., it seems, isn’t far behind.

I was in D.C. recently to visit some friends and do some work. Mason, my husband, was with me. He can’t hear well, especially when I am near him and ask him to do something. This very specific type of hearing loss is often diagnosed as “Mixed Marital Hearing Loss, Unspecified,” which means he can’t hear requests, plans, demands or the doorbell.

As with most hotel rooms that aren’t presidential suites, the bathroom is directly by the entrance door. It was 9 o’clock in the morning. The Do Not Disturb sign was hanging on the doorknob. I was showering and Mason was on the other side of the room, behind a partition that served as a wall/coffee bar. I knew he was there because he was singing. His voice is deep and buttery, so I usually enjoy his warbling; though given his hearing condition, they could probably hear him in Raleigh.

As I exited the shower, I heard the hotel room door click open. Knowing Mason was oblivious on the other side of the room, I braced myself for it. Nekked fighting. Combat Nu.

Because everything in my life is connected to some eccentric misadventure somewhere else, this one began in Arkansas, sort of. Years ago I had a boss who was from there. He was short, probably because the mosquitoes ate half of him, and his Southern drawl was so thick it could make biscuits. He started every workday with wise advice as he passed my office. One day it was this: “Nekked fighting! You’ll win!” I furrowed my brow and asked what on this glorious green Earth he was talking about. At the time it never occurred to me that this could actually come in handy.

“Think about it,” he stopped, very serious. “Someone comes at ya ready to fight. Git nekked. Then, when they stare at ya, naked and ugly, flabby and weird lookin’, you attack! You have the element of surprise. Use it to your advantage and you win!” With that, he and his cup of coffee moved on.

I kept that little nugget of wisdom in the back of my cap until that hotel door clicked open.

This is it, I thought to myself. This is the day I would become the champion of Combat Nu. It all happened in slow motion, like in The Matrix. Someone was breaking in. I turned toward the door, dripping, naked and weird looking. I came face-to-face with the danger, ready to fight. The blood-curdling scream that came out of the maid as she fled down the hallway convinced me I had won. But I wondered, is it two falls out of three? Am I a black belt, to be feared and respected?

I put on some clothes and went downstairs to inquire at the front desk if they had a moment to hear my testimony about naked fighting. The staff was so unmoved by my experience it was as if this was a common occurrence. Their only response was, “I’m sure she knocked, you just didn’t hear it.”

At that moment, I started to cry in the lobby of a lovely hotel in downtown D.C. while trying to convince the front desk staff that Combat Nu is not a matter to be engaged in lightly. They seemed blissfully unaware of the true severity of the situation.

Mason finally either got to the end of his song or he realized I was missing and came downstairs looking for me. He’s all too aware that I am a living, breathing, walking catastrophe with a certain je ne sais quoi. He put a pair of sunglasses on me, stood me against a wall, said, “Do not move.”

Then he headed over to the Starbucks in the lobby to get me a double caramel macchiato and probably a set of ping-pong paddles.  PS

Beth MacDonald is a Southern Pines suburban misadventurer, author and Combat Nu black belt.

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