I broke Bruce Lee. Twice.
Most people probably can’t say that.
Yes, I’m a martial artist, and yes, my boyfriend is a martial arts instructor. However, I did not break Bruce Lee with my martial arts like you might be thinking.
I broke him with ten plastic grocery bags and a giant cardboard box.
You’re probably really wondering what I’m talking about right now, so, alright, I’ll acquiesce to your curiosity and explain.
My boyfriend, the martial arts instructor, has a very beautiful home. It’s got a Japanese feel, which I like a lot, as it takes me back to my roots (my grandma is from Japan). He has things in the home besides shoji screens and small Japanese statues that are not quite Japanese. For example, because he is what some commonly call a “movie buff,” he also has proudly displayed, a replica of the hover board from Back to the Future.
Why? Just because he can.
Additionally, he has a Batman pointillism drawing I made for him (ten bazillion little dots that took me 5 days working six hours a day on last Christmas break) hanging on the wall. There are photos of his loved ones, and on one wall, there is even a small Indiana Jones sticking out three-dimensionally with his whip pulled back behind him. There is a photoshopped picture of him taking the place of Jean-Claude Van Damme busting out a side-kick against Bolo Yeung (from the movie Bloodsport), a picture his friend who is a digital media producer made for him. Van Damme is one of his martial arts heroes, so its special he gets to take his place in this photograph with a martial arts kick.
And finally, there is Bruce Lee.
Bruce Lee sits in on a really unsteady cylindrical stand that sits beside a short stairwell that leads into the media room. He’s a mini version of the real statue that’s located in Avenue of the Stars in Hong Kong. He’s standing in what to me looks like a back stance with the rear heel lifted, and he has one hand pulled back while the other is extended in kind of a semi-not-quite-up-set knife-hand strike…kind of like an awkwardly offered handshake.
His outstretched hand happens to be outstretched very slightly over the short stairwell.
When my boyfriend isn’t looking, I’ve occasionally rotated him slightly so that his hand faces more towards the wall behind him or more towards the room in front of him and not so much to towards the stairwell beside him. I do this because I worry I’ll catch that hand on my way into the room and knock him over. He was a gift given to my boyfriend by his mom when he was about 13 years old. Unfortunately, every time I do so, within a couple days, he has been returned to his normal position, probably discovered out of place while Adam did his routine thorough house-cleaning.
Well, this November, he and I decided to create four shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child, a project I was leading at my church. It’s totally irrelevant for the purposes of this article, but in case you were curious, it involves buy a bunch of stuff (toys, school supplies, hygiene items, hard candy, etc) and packing them into shoe boxes which then get shipped overseas to various countries through an organization called Samaritan’s Purse.
We paid the dollar store a visit and bought about $90 worth of supplies which we planned to cram into our four boxes. The media room has a lot of floor space (it’s a converted garage), so that seemed to be the ideal place to lay out all of our items, assess the situation, and decide how we would proceed trying to pack all these items into our plastic shoebox-size boxes.
“Bec, you wanna help me get lunch ready?” he asked me, tossing a bunch of bags onto the dining room table.
“Sure,” I replied, “But let me help you with these bags first.”
I thought I’d impress him and pick up as many as I could (yeah, this really makes sense in hindsight. Try to impress the guy you’re already dating and have been dating for three years and who seems like he’s gonna be around forever and not go anywhere anytime soon by lifting up abunch of dollar store bags…not sure what I expected the reaction to be. “Oh, Becca, you’re so strong and amazing! I’m so lucky I can date a girl who can carry 20 dollar store bags! Ooooo kiss me!”).
I grabbed the dollar store bags and waddled down the hallway with them through the doorway to the media room. I had just successfully made it down the stairs and began setting them on the floor by the base of the couch when I heard a heavy thud sound that was cushioned by the carpet.
I whipped my head around.
Bruce Lee lay face-down on the carpet.
I first checked his hands to see if they were there. His head was still attached. But there was a small piece on the floor that had broken off. Where did it belong?
“Um…Adam?” I called out.
“What is it, Sweetie?” he chirped back.
“I….I think I broke Bruce Lee.”
He entered the room. “I see.”
The part, apparently, was the ridge on the back of the dragon that Bruce Lee stood upon, a dragon I had never noticed until I’d unknowingly taken him down.
I have to imagine that his hand snagged one of my many bags I was carrying, and as I breezed by, the tower he was standing upon tilted forward slowly, slowly, slowly, much like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and then finally, it was just too much with gravity working against him and he fell face-down to the floor with a soft thud.
He was carefully glued together and everything was right as rain.
I was very tentative going down those stairs after that, I can promise you.
Then, I thought, I’m going to use a couple pay checks and order my boyfriend something special, something he’ll use.
I did, and, because it’s not Christmas yet and he regularly reads my blog, I cannot disclose the information about what it is I ordered for him…but let’s just say it is bulky (unwieldy is a better word), and it is in a very large cardboard box that is nearly as tall as me and definitely wider than me (I guess that’s a good thing. I like it when things are wider than me and not vice versa).
I used an entire roll of wrapping paper and almost a whole role of scotch tape getting that box covered, and then I took red duct tape and wrapped it around it from all sides as though it was wrapped in ribbing (I’d like to see how he goes about opening that present).
I got it to fit in the trunk of my car by angling it, and when I brought it to his house, I really wanted to peak his curiosity by carrying it him and having the joy of him standing there bewildered, wondering what on earth it was that I’d gotten for him. So, I had this vision in my head of totally impressing him by carrying this present nearly the size of me.
Let’s just say again, this is one of those things that in hindsight, seems entirely illogical, but in the moment, seemed to me to make perfect sense (of course!). It really was equivalent to the intelligence of my dollar store bag experience, and I should have learned from past mistakes: a boyfriend of three years who has promised a lifetime probably doesn’t need to be impressed by incredibly rare ability to carry twenty dollar store bags or an unwieldy cardboard box the size of me down some steps.
Alas, I picked up the box.
“Why don’t you let me carry that,” he offered.
“Oh, no, I got it.” I said, thinking, “Ohhhh he’s impressed now.”
“Bec, really, I can help you.”
“No, no, no….I got it.”
“Well, can I do anything to help?”
“Stay by my car so nobody takes the other stuff,” I replied, referring to a handful of other smaller presents I had sitting out as well as a couple of items from my trunk I had to remove in order to lift his present.
“Alright. Be careful, Wrecking Ball,” he called out to me. Wrecking Ball his affectionate way of bringing humor to my propensity to storm through rooms, leaving a wake of things overlooked or things broken. I’ll have to write an article one day about how I wrecking-balled our first Valentine’s Day.
This task I assigned to him about staying at my car was so that I could carry out my vision of him standing in bewilderment and curiosity would begin stirring in the depths of his soul. Maybe he would fall more in love with the woman who brings mystery into his life. Really, looking back with clarity, I think it’s probably more accurate to believe he was thinking, “What on earth is she doing…? I could have lifted that present. Oh my goodness, she’s approaching the stairs to the front porch. She’s probably going to trip and die, present falling on top of her and squishing her. Oh good. Phew. She made it past the stairs. I can only imagine the havoc she will wreak on my house.”
And havoc was indeed what occurred within those walls.
He stood by my car like any faithful boyfriend would do when his girlfriend happens to be completely unreasonable (Probably best he stayed clear. That was wise).
Inside, I couldn’t see what was in front of me, so two separate times I walked straight into a wall. I even considered calling him for help at one point, but now this was a matter of principle.
I could handle this. I totally could handle this. At least that’s what I fancied telling myself.
I made it to the door of the media room. Our Christmas tree was inside at the far end, and I could see the ornaments swaying on its branches. The finish line. I was almost there.
I picked up the box once more, lugged it down the stairs, and made it to the tree only to hear that awful sickening soft thud upon the carpet behind me. My heart sunk, and my breath caught in my throat.
I’d done it again.
I can believe I’d done it again.
Bruce Lee lay face down on the floor.
Like before, I checked both of his hands and his head to make sure the important parts of him were attached. They were, thankfully, but again, the dragon beneath its feet had lost a couple of its ridges.
His outstretched hand must have caught the box since I couldn’t see the other side of wherever I was walking.
How would I tell him?
I chuckled nervously thinking about his ironic reminder just moments earlier about me being a wrecking ball.
Instead of handling things calmly, I panicked and, leaving the present in an awkward place by the tree, Bruce Lee face down on the carpet, and two dragon ridges beside him, I ran out to the car where Adam stood waiting.
“What?” he asked.
“IbrokeBruceLeeandhe’slayingonthecarpetagain” I blurted out, my words running together in a hurry, followed by another nervous chuckle. “I’m sorry!” I added, before he could even process what I’d just said.
“Bruce Lee is broken? Again?”
“Yeah,” I nodded.
“Bec…my mom gave me that when I was thirteen.”
Wow. Way to lay it down.
The guilt washed over me even more. At that point, it was rather tempting to just lay myself down on the front porch and invite the vultures to come eat out my stomach through my abdomen. Better yet, bring back Bruce Lee himself and let him martial arts me to death, over and over again. Let one of the Greek gods banish me to an eternity rolling some giant rock up a hill only to have that rock roll back down again. Let some person with disgusting smelling farts come sit on my face and fart repeatedly until I day from methane poisoning or become infected with E. coli.
That is the guilt I felt when I heard those words.
“I’m sorry.” I offered again. “I didn’t mean to.”
“It’s okay. It was an accident,” he replied.
He went into the house, fixed up Bruce Lee with some more glue, and put him back on his wobbly cylindrical display table. There was one difference though, I noticed, sitting on the couch later that night:
His hand was facing a different direction this time…
I’d broken Bruce Lee twice.