How to Throw a Punch

17. Eat the first-prize giant vegetable at a village fair.
22. Do a “dark reboot” of my signature.
56. See the original “dogs playing poker” painting (Louvre?).

On Wednesday evening, we reviewed our bucket lists. Samara only ever had one item on her list. To touch a penguin. We did it in 2011, which is why we can’t go back to Sea World.

My list, on the other hand, contains 147 different items, arranged in descending order of priority with colour-coded tabs and guesstimates of fulfillment dates. Needless to say, I’ve not done any of them.

11. Sleep at a Draclia’s house.
12. Drink from a real coconut.
33. Stop using the word “guesstimate”.

One item, I’m slightly embarrassed to confess, is:

49. Learn how to throw a punch.

“Pfft” said Samara, “I can teach you that.”

Samara and I have been together for five years and though I probably suspected it intuitively, I didn’t know she contained so much chin music.

“Uncle Felix,” she explained.

Ah yes. Uncle Felix.

“First,” she said, “you’ve got to stand properly.”

We got out of bed.

I always knew I’d end up sparring in my pajamas, but I never thought it would be with Sammy.

She adopted a stance of frankly terrifying solidity and I tried to mirror it.

“No, silly!” she said, “Like this! At shoulder’s width. Ground yourself.”

After few aborted attempts, I finally got it. I never knew standing could be so complicated.

“Did we remember to send Uncle Felix a Christmas card?” I said.

“Right,” she said, “now show me what you’ve got.”


“Show me what you’ve got,” she said, “Punch into the air.”

I thumped, fairly impressively I thought, into the air. I was like a Mantis Shrimp. Samara rolled her eyes.

“Okay,” she said, “that wasn’t so bad. But try doing it more like this.”

Her fist tore through the air like something from Mortal Kombat II. There was a whooshing sound as the air got its shit together and filled the gaping cavity she had left in it.

“Crumbs,” I said.

I don’t think I’d ever been moved to say “Crumbs” before.

“The key,” she said, “is to start with your fist facing upwards like this,” (she demonstrated) “and to twist before you connect.”

“Blimey,” I said. Familiar territory, blimey, but it came out involuntarily.

“And,” she said, “this is the clever part. Aim a few inches behind the object you’re punching. That’s called following through.”

The way she said “following through” made me feel as though I should be writing it down. But all my sharpies and page tabs were in the other room.

“Hmm,” I said.

I punched the air in the way she had instructed, keeping my defensive left fist near to my chin, like I’d seen boxers do on telly.

“That’s great!” she said.

“It is?”


And that’s how my girlfriend taught me how to properly snotter someone.

Maybe she can help me with:

122. Eat a raw onion without wincing.

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