Night of the Long Knives

So; last time I promised some thoughts on my wonderful son Leo and his latest activities. Just to recap, so you can figure this out: Dave and I offered our ‘services’ ten years ago to a lesbian couple, Karen and Clare, and my son and Dave’s daughter Jaymee were the result. The kids, now 10, live with the two mums, we live separately but see them all the time and sometimes they stay over with us – we love ’em all to bits, and the kids understand fully their position in their two families.

And, to avoid any misunderstandings, they are most definitely NOT gay (which might dispel certain myths). And, of course, we are cool with that.

They have grown up in families dedicated to performance: acrobatics from us and, encouraged by the mums, fakir elements in the shows too, which sees the ladies doing stuff with fire and sword ladders (I hate that – I always imagine toes sliced off in their prime!) and and all four of us adults involving ourselves with beds of nails, glass and swords. There are lots of ancient posts here on these subjects – go delve in the early archives of this blog!

Dave and I have this wonderful training cabin at the top of his yard. Leo and Jaymee practice acrobatics there with us, and join us in shows. Leo also trains weights, with his close friend Chris, under either our supervision or that of Chris’s older brother Billy, who is very responsible. Leo is an amazing acrobat for his age, and his dedication (with Chris) to weights and to perfecting his strength and physical appearance is amazing, and very gratifying.

OK: last Saturday, for whatever reason, Leo and Chris were in there on their own. As such, not a problem. I didn’t realise, but wandered in unexpectedly. Found Leo on his personal bed of nails – OK, cool with that – encouraging Chris to do the knife drop to the stomach:

Here are two Palestinian boys, in a supervised martial arts class, demonstrating this same feat (without the nails!). In our cabin, I found Chris – no Billy in sight – brandishing one of our most pointy kitchen knives which Leo has obviously removed from the knife drawer for the purpose. Now I know, whilst Leo is only 10, that he can do this. Pretty much anyone can do this so long as they hold their stomach muscles in the right way. But trying it out on their own? Arrrgh!

This feat is becoming quite popular in fakir shows. Steelkast, for example (see bottom right for link) include it in most of theirs. It looks potentially horrendous but, if you understand the unique properties of human skin, and use a bit of common sense,you are quite safe. Russian soldiers do it in training:

I think that’s to show that the guy doing the situps has toughened his stomach muscles enough. And, to be fair, Gary once took a knife in the gut to save Zach from a worse fate – and his phenomenal martial arts training which allows him to balance his whole weight on one spear in his stomach meant that he deflected the blade AND bent the knife – by the way, that’s all coming in Part Three of ‘Living the Dream’, when I’ve finished it. (Links to Part 1 and Part 2).

But, my 10yo old kid, on his personal nail bed, conning his mate into dropping the knife on him unsupervised? And possibly trading places…

No. We had a rare row. Leo’s lifestyle (the ‘gay’ relationships and his own situation within them) has come under abusive criticism from one neighbour, whose son remains a close friend of Leo’s clandestinely: Leo’s shirtless habit (which we all share) has attracted sometimes the wrong sort of attention here in the conservative bible belt… and we’ve given him a VERY long leash with his obvious performing talents, which he has learned almost exclusively from Dave and I and our performance partners.

I felt that I had to go straight across the street and talk with Chris’s very understanding parent, who thanked me for my concern and lectured Chris in a similar fashion.

Leo hardly spoke to me for two days.

I’m blessed, I guess. I have a son who can do this:

…and this:

So I’m immensely proud of him and of his achievements. He can walk barefoot on glass and, as I said, gives a very respectable performance on his nails and on a sword bed as well. In fact, I worry before every public performance what ‘traditional’ members of the audience might think of Clare and me for letting him do it. The thing is, he is professionally trained, capable, competant, and loves every second of it.

But the row was necessary. I hope he understands. It is him I worry about. what if – just what if – he had reversed position and dropped that knife on to Chris’s unprotected stomach? Most likely, it would rebound, as it always should if the abdominals are tensed. But what if not… arrrrgh!

I sometimes find it real hard to think of him as ‘just a kid’. He accuses me now of thinking exactly that, instead of crediting him with the knowledge and confidence I know he actually possesses. I hope that we can resolve this and become friends and performing ‘equals’ once again, the sooner the better. He will be at the top of his tree when he gets a little older, doing things neither Dave nor I could ever have achieved at his age.

That’s my boy.

Meanwhile, Dave and I have removed all the knives from the kitchen drawer.

About tonycavanagh

Born Northampton UK; school Oxford UK and Oak Ridge Tennessee, where I met my wonderful partner Dave, also from UK. Oak Ridge is our main training base for acrobatics and circus stuff, but we also established a base in Wales (UK) to serve us when we are working in Europe. Our 'story', of finding gay love, learning the acrobatics trade and then of how we got shot at during our show (and worse was to follow - just to prove that the risks of being an acrobat are not always the most obvious ones!) are now available in my three books 'Loving the Boy', 'The Power of Love' and 'Against All Odds'. Links available on most blog posts. Actually, waiting for the imminent arrival of the first printed copies was far scarier than anything we do in performance. A fourth book - not about us but exploring the sadness of a gay Native American boy denied his true identity - is currently with an agent for evaluation. watch for 'Let The Future Find Me' in due time. And now to book five... another boy, another quest... seems its always boys...
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2 Responses to Night of the Long Knives

  1. Pingback: Leo and I Reconciled! « Tony Cavanagh

  2. Pingback: Kalutskikh Update « Tony Cavanagh

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