I was a scrawny, painfully shy, face-stuck-in-a-book pre-teen which, in the neighbourhood I grew up, meant I was a regular recipient of smackdowns. They were fast, messy and painful (for me — though I’m sure theĀ  other guy’s knuckles hurt, too). Messy not only because of the bloods, but because it invariably ended on the ground, a tangle of arms and legs and grunts and hair pulling. And before it got on the ground, any punches were wild swings that connected by luck, if at all.

The point of this isn’t to elicit sympathy. As my pops used to tell me, if you want sympathy look in the dictionary. It’s between shit and syphilis. And I haven’t been in a fight in over forty years.

The point of this is that fight scenes in books and movies are about as true to life as the depiction of writers in books or movies.

I’m watching Equalizer II, the Denzel Washington movie. A conceit in the movie is that he starts a stopwatch when the battle commences and he times himself to see how long it takes out the four or five or a dozen baddies. He’s rarely scathed. (That’s a word, right?) It’s always economic.

I want to read a book or see a movie where adults dumb enough to get in a fight actually fight the way a fight is actually fought. Grappling, but not BJJ style. Messy, flailing, torn shirts, quickly exhausted with no real winner.

I won’t though, will I?

Because people want the hero to lose their first fight, barely, then in Act Three face the same opponent and prevail in a slick, professional manner.

So maybe in this book (the one I’m currently working on) I’ll change it up. See how it goes.