Everyone loves getting turned on. Everyone loves high-kicking martial-arts action.
So I’m going to recount for you the very first heavy-petting session I engaged in with my first girlfriend when I was 16. But because I’m not sure that this girlfriend would appreciate me sharing these events, instead of using her real name, I’m going to refer to her as action star Chuck Norris. Likewise, any personal details about my ex-girlfriend that might implicate her directly will be changed to indicate achievements earned by Mr. Norris.
For example, instead of referring to Madeline as a junior-varsity-basketball cheerleader, I will refer to her as an international karate champion. And when I say “star of TV’s Walker: Texas Ranger” I’ll really mean “supporting cast member in a 1996 high-school production of Jesus Christ: Superstar.”
Any references to sexual activities we engaged in will be disguised as martial-arts maneuvers or wrestling holds. I won’t say Maddie was the first girl I ever French-kissed; I’ll say something to the effect of, “Chuck Norris kicked me so hard in the mouth I had to have my jaw wired shut.”
When mentioning details that still embarrass me, I will go on and on with analogies that — if you really think about them — make sense, but are pretty difficult to follow. I won’t sheepishly admit that even at 15, she was more experienced than I was. I’ll ask you to imagine a younger Chuck Norris, not yet a master of his art, but perhaps an intermediate student, leading one of the newer karate students in basic “block, step, kick” exercises during the warm-up time before class while the teacher is stretching. I won’t tell you that before that afternoon on my parents’ couch, I had kissed only one other girl — awkwardly — on the cheek, and was quickly but gently rebuffed. Instead, I’ll casually share an anecdote about the time I sparred with Steven Seagal, who let me take a couple swings at him, but quickly got bored and didn’t even waste the energy it would take to break a few of my bones.
The thing about Chuck Norris is that he is not the least bit pretentious. He is not without moments of gracelessness — sometimes overextending a kick or putting too much of his upper body behind a punch. His form is not nearly as fun to watch as Jet Li’s exhausting acrobatics, and it is not quite as pretty as the phony grace of Jean-Claude Van Damme, whose elegance belies technique that is beautiful to look at but entirely useless in a real combat situation. More than anything, Chuck Norris is effective, and he is not self-conscious. I, on the other hand, was deathly afraid of getting a hickey.
I ran into Chuck three years after we stopped fighting regularly. We were both home from our respective colleges during a holiday break. We went to a movie one night, out to coffee another. Finally, the night before I was to return to school, our mutual animosity got the best of us, and a fight broke out in the guest bedroom of my parents’ house, where we had been watching Saturday Night Live. We had both trained hard in the previous years and were eager to demonstrate the new moves we had learned. In our eagerness, of course, we disregarded technique, and the bout quickly turned into a brawl, our limbs flailing wildly, a mess. In this way, this battle was much like our first but not nearly as sweet.
Afterward, I walked Chuck out to his car, feeling defeated. I leaned in close to the star of the box-office flop Firewalker and asked if he was sure that this was OK. He smiled at me tenderly, placed a hand on my cheek — a hand that had smashed pine boards and bricks, had shattered giant blocks of ice — and then he leapt into the air and delivered a devastating flying roundhouse kick to my skull.