Did you feel sorry for Ivan Drago at the end of Rocky IV? The fact that I'm asking that question makes it pretty obvious that I did. What a weak-ass introductory sentence. If this were some kind of student paper, I'd would mark it up and shame him. Then his mother would call me and talk about how I was out of line. Then she'd complain about how I would giggle when the boys made "That's what she said" jokes and then ask me just how old I was anyway.
Then I'd say I'm sorry, ma'am, but I care about your son and want to send him into the world with all the advantages of my expertise. And then she'd say you arrogant son of a bitch. Where do you get off? My son looks up to you and you crushed him and answer the question, Did you or did you not feel sorry for Ivan Drago at the end of Rocky IV.
Yes, I would tell her. Yes I did.
Me too, she would say. Me too.
I would tell her about how much sad I was when I looked at his face during the "Living in America" scene, just how absolutely bewildered he was by the display of American largesse, how completely repulsed he was by the spectacle.
She would talk about his dehumanization, how they injected hormones into his body as if he were beef cattle, how they hooked him up to machines and pushed himself to the limit, just to see how much the human body could take. And I would tell her it was an excellent point, even though mine was infinitely better.
Then we would talk about the scene where he finally asserts his individuality and proves himself to be a man and not just some flag-draped symbol like certain people we know, and then she and I would laugh at our little joke we shared at the expense of Rocky Balboa.
Drago is a man, not a Soviet machine. He is not an American "piece of iron" like Rocky. He fights to win. He fights for one person:
And who can't relate to that?
I write to win. I write for me!
Word, Ivan Drago. Word.
You're a good man, she would finally say. And a good teacher. I was wrong about you.
You really were, I'd say. Apology accepted.
After an awkward silence, she would then ask me if there were any last things her son should take away from all of this, and I would remind her that Apollo Creed died for his art, that I would want him to really think about that.
Apollo Creed's the coolest, she would say, and I would tell her that he is; he really is.