Thursday, April 13, 2006

Into The Rhythm

Back to 1990.

March rolled around and I had a brilliant idea. I decided that it might be a good idea to invite Tom to play with ShortFatGuys.

[Note: I seem to write with the same convention that I use in conversation when referring to Tom aka The Worm. Namely, I tend to call him Tom when I am talking about things outside of playing ultimate or ultimate parties. He is, after all, my friend, and despite his continuing denials over the past two decades, I believe that he would secretly rather be known as Tom or even Thomas. And I will let you all in on a tightly held secret - he is not exactly the same person when alone versus when in a large group of partying lunatics or blood-seeking adversaries. Then, of course, there is the necessity to call a spade a spade. Therefore, in situations where the stories are outside of personal connection or cogent empathetic reflection, he will be known as Worm ... or The Worm. You will have to ask him yourself if you want to understand the subtle, yet important distinction.]

Anyway ... 1990 Spring. ShortFatGuys. Frostbreaker. Gainesville, Florida ... again.

My side of the phone call to Gary went something like this:

“Gary! Hey ... what’s that? Yeah, of course I’m coming to Frostbreaker.

Yep, I am really looking forward to it. No, I don’t have a girlfriend! Do you? Listen, I’m just chillin’ for a bit. No, I’m not in a “slump.” I’m focusing on my career.

Hey, by the way ... I know that you usually extend all the invites, but ... well, that’s nice of you to say, but really, it is YOUR team.

Either way, there’s this guy out here that I think would be a good addition to the team.

Yeah, he’s a good player. Yeah, he is cool. Not a hot head. He can party and have fun [Boy, can he!]

What? Yeah, I think he would be a perfect fit.

There’s one little problem. Hey, relax. It’s just that he doesn’t really have enough money to be able to afford the flight, hotel and rental car.

Well, I was thinking ... that’s a little harsh ... I was thinking that maybe ... hear me out ... maybe the team could get together and pitch in. Just a little from each player. I swear I think everyone will be happy they contributed. That’s all I’m asking. Put it out there and ask around. I’m willing to make up the difference.

OK. Thanks, I appreciate it. If it works out, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.”

And that was that. ShortFatGuys extended their first no-strings-attached “scholarship” for a worthy teammate, and Worm was on his way.

Gainesville in March. Worm and I arrived at the team motel to much fanfare and bravado. Mostly, I received the fanfare based on that one spectacular and anomalous sky from the year before. [In fact, I kind of rode the legend of that story for a few years before everyone realized that I was never going to duplicate that magnitude of a feat again. But it was a good ride while it lasted.] Worm came in with the bravado.

Understand, he had been through the hell-fires of Chico State ultimate. He had been subjected to the heights of derision and the lows of the worst underhanded machinations. He knew one of the most important aspects of group interaction - go in demanding the kind of status that you want. If you want to be the quiet, nice guy ... act a little like Billy. If you want to be “That Guy” - the guy that makes things happen, for better or worse - stand up straight and act like The Worm. He was so much The Worm that nobody even asked me whether he might have any other name until late on Sunday night. He was The Worm, and they simply nodded and accepted. It fit.

We didn’t party too much that firsst night. West-coasters on East coast time. You aren’t all that tired, but you know that you’re going to have hell to pay with the early wake up call in the morning.

That Saturday on the fields there were a few developments:

First, ShortFatGuys was a better team than we had ever been. Fewer Wash U players (only the hard core still remaining including: Melissa, Steve Votruba, Gary and me) and more up and coming Boston players.

Second, this year, we had Worm. He was throwing himself around the field with such typical reckless abandon, that he inspired (or shamed) the rest of us to try harder. It worked. We were playing better, winning more.

Third, Jen was back and her younger sister was tagging along for her spring break. By this time, most of the ShortFatGuys had figured out that Jen was great to hang out with, nice to look at, and undisputably brilliant, but was basically not interested in any of the Guys. Her sister K., all 20 years, five feet, and 100 pounds of her, was also very cute. And she seemed to like guys. More than just a little. She also seemed determined to enjoy her spring break even if it meant drinking a little alcohol to loosen things up.

The year before, I had imbibed enough beer on Friday night to lubricate my brain into a twisted sort of perversity. There were about six of us hanging out in one of the motel rooms. I got the idea that it might be interesting to pull out the Gideon’s Bible and read a few passages. I happened to open to Leviticus. The text struck me as so strangely absurd, that I started preaching out loud to anyone and everyone in the room.

If you are not familiar with your basic Bible, and I certainly was not, Leviticus is good Old Testament fire and brimstone, “Thou shall” and “Thou shall not” preachifying. Lines similar to, “The beast that has the cloven hoof but cheweth not its cud shall be an abomination and ye shall not eat it,” that is basically Leviticus - but there are hundreds of pronouncements like that. I gather that it is where most of the rules of Kosher are derived from. All I knew at the time was that it read like the script from some crazy segment of Monty Python. I was soon bouncing around from bed to bed, choosing passages at random, and casting my commandments about to the giggling few.

That’s generally as crazy as I ever get at an ultimate tournament.

Back to 1990, after the games, Saturday night found the ShortFatGuys partying at a local beer hall with a pool table. I vaguely recall large quantities of beer, lots of poorly played billiards, K. drinking lots of Old Grandad - straight out of the bottle, and some sweaty dancing. I was not in the mood to recite out of the Bible this year. Instead, I was thinking it might be a great chance to break my ever growing streak of ... well ... um ... not having sex. Not even close to having sex. Nothing in six months. Zip. Nada. Hardly a peck on the cheek goodnight.

As I watched K. literally crawl under the pool table after a puppy that had strayed into the bar, I had the proverbial angel and devil sitting on my opposing shoulders. She was really cute, she had been very affectionate, even flirtatious, with me all evening, and her inhibitions were ... ah ... swimming in a golden haze of alcohol. On the other side of the equation, her older sister was staring absolute daggers at me from across the room the entire night.

As we all made our way back to the motel, K. swayed along beside me and inquired as to my sleeping arrangements from the previous evening. As we neared the motel, I mentioned that Tom and I had been sleeping with Gary and couple other guys from the team. She allowed how it was stupid that she and her sister had two beds in their rooms to themselves and there were a bunch guys without enough beds. I think Tom had the guts to suggest that, maybe, we could share their room with them. K. seemed all for the arrangement, Jen was less than enthusiastic, to say the least.

As Tom and I scrambled to grab our bags and slide into their room before the offer was rescinded, I’m sure that the sisters had a word or two about the soundness of the sleeping accommodations. As we entered the room, Tom and I had generally accepted that we would be spending yet another night as bed partners. Then K. announced:

“Two girls. Two guys. Separate beds. I don’t want to sleep with my sister. That’s a waste!”

I calmly thought over the situation. I considered the dimensions of the beds, the size of the four people involved, the general disposition of like-sized anatomical parts such as arms, legs and torsos. I determined that it might be best if K. and I shared the smaller bed near the window and Jen and Tom could have the larger, more comfortable, sleeping platform. After listening to other, varying opinions, I quietly suggested as much to the group. It was generally agreed, by all involved, to be the best solution.

We all slept very well that night.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

ShortFatGuys didn’t win that year. I believe we lost in the semis. It was fun though. And Worm had been a big hit with the team. Between his sick defense and his scary partying, he was firmly entrenched on the roster from that day forth.


At April 14, 2006 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

could you maybe tell flash that you can update these things?



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