Now, much of this story requires one to really get the dichotomy of the black belt test. On the one hand, it's a rite of passage. On the other hand, it means, "I'm not just a monkey, I'm a monkey that's trainable. Far from turning you into a living "Vorpal Can of Whup-Ass +20", it means that you have enough dedication and ability to make you worth the effort of learning the good stuff. All styles and arts approach this differently. In my style, you test at least 3 times. If you're lucky, one of those, they aren't trying to kill you. (Trust me, testing in Houston in late summer/early fall, no A/C is attempted murder) Oddly enough, you look forward to it, and will sacrifice much to get to that state. Even sleep. Even sanity. Especially sanity.
This isn't about the test, although that was memorable. No, this is about everything around the test.
Me and my two instructors had decided that a brilliant idea for the test would be to make T-Shirts for everyone. The night before. Starting at about 10:00 p.m.
We got no sleep.
This is on top of a 300 - mile drive to the school where we were testing. We hit every rest stop because we were drinking coffee like fiends and having to piss just as bad. Me, M, and T. T can't drive, so M and I, with no sleep press on. Driving from Mass. to upstate New York. At one point, we're so loopy that we see a sign for bears in the woods, and decide that indeed bears DO shit in the woods. This renders us hysterical for almost an hour. At this point, about noon, M. and I have been up for 36 hours, and everything is hysterically funny.
We still haven't gotten to the seminar yet. My black belt test is tomorrow.
It's a good thing that I'd been doing this stuff for over a decade. Because my brain was jello. The entire seminar was on autopilot, and to this day, I don't remember a damned thing I did in it. I'm guessing my brain decided my body didn't need any real guidance and took a bit of a nap. We somehow get through the seminar, and head out to the hotel we'll be staying at. M. and I want to sleep more than anyone has ever wanted to sleep ever. Not happening. See, when you're traveling with Kuk Sa Nym, literally, the head of the association, the creator of the style you practice, and he wants to take us out for Korean food, well, you suck it up and go. My stomach was a mess, as it was processing what must have been a couple gallons of espresso.
Yeah, Korean food on that...mmm. But, when Kuk Sa Nym says come eat, you eat. Luckily, for the most part, everyone else realized that I was not in any shape to eat much of anything, so they kind of let me get by on white rice and Ginger Ale. Until the soup. This was...well, normally, it would be really good fish head and lobster ass soup. But it was killing me. That was just the smell. Everyone gets a bowl. Even me. Everyone but Kuk Sa Nym gives me the "Dude...I'm SO sorry" look. Kuk Sa Nym says "Eat! :-)" I choke it down. Literally. Luckily, at that point, I had enough rice and Ginger Ale in my stomach to prevent bad things.
The definition of "Bad Things" is vomiting on a tenth degree black belt who earned it the hard way in an art that's mostly joint locks, bone breaks and pressure points.
So we get back, and at this point, M and I have been up for 48 hours, and have that weird second wind where you accept that you'll never sleep again, and you're...well, not AWAKE, but not dying on your feet either. So we get in the hotel, make some "we're at the hotel and fine" calls and start to clean up...
Wait...not a hotel. Hotels are...not this place. This is a motel. Little roadside dive. A true motel. In every sense of the word. And there's four of us in one room on one bed. Me, M, M's husband K and T. Two guys, two girls, but half of us are about to die of exhaustion. Sorry kids, no porn tonight...well, sort of. I start to pass out while T's in the shower. You ever been half asleep, and your eyes are closed, you're relaxed, and you start to hear the small, background sounds you normally shut out.
Cars on the road outside
A bizarre sound that's almost like a pigeon cooing. But it's not coming from the outside. T's chinese. It sounds like it's coming from the shower. T's in the shower. My brain is so malfunctioning that if I had a spare brain, it would have told me to ignore the other one. No such luck. I come up with a perfectly logical reason. T's singing in the shower. In Chinese. Chinese Shower Songs. The Bitch.
"M, for the love of god, tell T to stop singin' them fuckin' Chinese shower songs, they're keeping me up"
"John, I'm as loopy as you, but WHAT.THE.FUCK are you talking about? There's no such thing as 'Chinese Shower Songs' you moron."
"Listen..you hear that pigeon sound? Tell T to knock it off."
"That's not coming from the shower, that's coming from the...room...next...door......."
We all realize it at once...I'm WIDE awake and we're all jamming our ears on the wall...
Interspersed with...well...grunting, but a specific sound...instead of something vaguely "grunt...grunt..grunt" we hear:
"gronnn...gronnnn....gronnnn" (short 'o' sound)
K starts laughing so hard we think he's going to rupture something...he manages to squeak out..."It sounds...like...a pigeon...getting fucked...by an old french pig..."
I swear, we rolled on and off the bed almost screaming for an hour...imitating them..."COOO....GRONNN" Holy fuck...the imagery...sweet jesus, the imagery...
The pigeon and the pig never slowed down..."coooo, gronnn, coooo, gronnn, cooo, gronnn, cooooHHHmygod, groohBaby"
We all finally pass out about ten p.m.
They're still going.
I wake up to piss about three a.m.
Pigeon and a new pig...same sounds...no wait, still Pig #1, but a new entrant...two pigs...she hasn't stopped moaning or even changed the pace...she's a fuckin' machine man...literally.
We all wake up at 6 am...no sound...holy crap, did they fuck her to death? I mean, we want to know, because you hear people talking about it, but dude...someone actually getting fucked to death? How fucking cool is that? Can you imagine the news people trying to talk around that? I'd give up..."Sorry for the word folks, but that girl done got fucked TO DEATH!"
We tried to play it cool, then decided fuckit, and just sat on the roof of the van waiting for them to emerge. They did. A motel maid, and three maintenance guys, and if they didn't fuck each other to death, they pushed that limit hard. No spring in anyone's step.
We went on to the black belt test, but the entire time, all anyone had to do was whisper "gronnn" and we had to chew our cheeks bloody to stop from laughing. To this day, you whisper that in my ear correctly, I'm laughing.
And that is the story of the pigeon and the pig.