Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

March 26, 2014

Memory of an old foe brings reflections

By Keith Kappes - Publisher
Journal-Times

March 26, 2014 —     We hadn’t seen each other for about 50 years but his face came instantly to mind when I saw his obituary.

    He was three years older and newly out of the military when we met as college freshmen.

    He was old enough to legally buy adult beverages so we invited him into our local fraternity.

    He was tall and lean and had a way with women. What no one realized was that he also was a mean drunk.

    That realization came suddenly and painfully to me late one night at a party when, following what I assumed was a friendly disagreement, he knocked me nearly unconscious with a surprise blow to the head, known on the street as a “sucker punch.”

    It was about two months later during Christmas break when we ran into him while celebrating a birthday.

    He mumbled an apology, saying he seemed to start fights when he drank too much.

    Later that night, he tried to retract the apology, saying I deserved what I got. I left the party and headed to my car, trying to avoid a fight.

    I saw his reflection in the glass door, coming up quickly behind me. This time he got the sucker punch as I wheeled around and hit him squarely in the nose.

    He was semi-conscious and bleeding when my pals pulled me away. He transferred to another school and we never saw each other again.

    Reading the obituary, I recalled what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said about there being some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.

    At that point, I realized I had long ago given up ill feelings toward my onetime adversary.

    And I hope he, too, found maturity, personal success and a happy life.