Monday, April 10, 2006

Have a seat

Picture your favorite table, the place where you have the best conversations. Maybe it's a corner in the back of a bar. Maybe it's your regular spot at the diner. Maybe it's at home in your kitchen. Comfortable chairs, cold beverages, interesting company.

You talk about anything, everything, and when the night's done you realize you never once looked at your watch.

That's what I want this space to be like.

Every so often I'll throw out something to talk about -- a story that's not quite a column, some chatter from life in the city, little flakes of things that move me in some way.

Feel free to help steer the conversation. I'm not sure where this is going. That's what makes it fun.

Let's get started.

April is such a great sports month -- the Final Four, the Masters, the start of baseball season. The time when gifted athletes do things they'll talk about in their rocking-chair years.

But the quasi-jocks among us, the ones who never made it past church-league softball -- we have our stories, too.

Here’s mine:

Mid-1980s, Panama City Beach, a club called the Spinnaker. We’re drinking some kind of watermelon punch that comes in a bucket, and we’re sitting on the top deck, three stories off the ground. Below us, maybe 75 feet out on the beach, there’s a garbage can.

I take a hunk of watermelon rind and aim for the can. Thunk – right in the bottom. High-fives all around.

But a fluke. Right?

Couple minutes later, I break off another chunk of rind and say Watch this. As soon as I let it go, I can tell it's way off to the right -- but then the wind kicks up off the waves, and the rind arcs left, a celestial curveball.

Dead center of the can.

Applause from the bar. Bragging rights for years. I can still close my eyes and see it, except now the trash can is 200 yards away, and orchestral music swells in the background, and I am played by Brad Pitt.

So how about you? What's your one semi-shining moment? Don't be shy -- we'll accept everything from bowling to horseshoes to Madden. (Not Asteroids, though. NOBODY could whip me at Asteroids.)


Anonymous said...

Mine would be:
It was 1992 and I was playing little league baseball after taking a year off. I hit my first home run in more than a year, a 2 run shot to left. Then 2 innings later I hit my 2nd, a 3 run shot to right. Finally in the 7th inning I hit a Grand Slam to straight away center. I still have the Grand Slam ball. But back to reality, we still lost 11-10. But of course now it seems like those home runs were 500 ft shots and I hit them off Roger Clemens not some 5 ft nothing 12 yr old.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the invitation to the table.
Mine is the early 80's when I played soccer in Minnesota. I played goalie but occasionally if a teammate was hurt they would put him in goal and I would play forward. We were down 2-1 in the second half when I was put in at forward. Two minutes later on a cross from the right corner, I tapped in an easy goal to tie the game. About 5 minutes later I received a pass at the top of the penalty box turn and fired a shot to the lower left corner to put us up 3-2. My coach pulled me out of the game and asked if I was sick. I told him to put me back in so I could get a hat trick and he could bench me for the rest of the game. At the next stoppage he put me in and less than 2 minutes later our center defenceman launched a ball from about midfield. As I ran under it at the top of the box, the opposing goalie came out to get the ball. He arrived just as the ball was coming over my shoulder. He missed catching it and we collided pretty hard, the ball glanced off my foot and rolled slowly in for the hat trick. Coach immediately pulled me for the remainder of the game. We ended up winning 5-3. Never before and never again did I score more than 1 goal in a game.
That's my one game memory that sticks with me. The most memorable season was in 1978 when I was goalie on our fall team and we went 10-0 and won the city championship on a snowy afternoon in November.
Thanks for allowing me to walk down memory lane.

Anonymous said...

Tommy, could you pass the coffee, please? I'm ready for a refill.

I was in the 7th grade, playing on an intramural basketball team. I had NEVER played basketball before, and was the shortest guy in my school. Throughout the game, my teammates (wisely) kept the ball away from me. They were, in reality, playing 4 against 5.

Suddenly, I had the ball in my hands. I was surrounded by the guys of the other team. Really TALL guys. All with hands in the air, all reaching for the ball. Seemed like they had 5 hands apiece.

In abject panic, I closed my eyes and threw the ball. Didn't aim, just threw. Hard! A couple of seconds later it swished through the basket. Nothing but net!

That was the ONLY goal I ever made in competitive basketball.

Anonymous said...

Mine immediately comes to mind:
I was in seventh grade. I've always been what you'd call "chubby" and not very athletic, and was very accustomed to be chosen near last for any team sport (which is great for an adolescent girl's self esteem). We were playing softball and somehow everything came together perfectly and I hit a home run. For the next couple of weeks I was chosen quickly when teams were picked. Soon everyone figured out it was a fluke and everything went back to normal, but it was glorious while it lasted.

Lenise said...

I cannot remember a single "glory" sports moment, since being the female elementary long-jump champ in 4th grade. That was pretty thrilling but did not lead to any further athletic successes.

I look forward to stopping in for a break now and again, Tommy.

Anonymous said...

I gave a boy a bloody nose in third grade.
Does that count?

Anonymous said...

It would have to be when I gave Barry Bonds those shots that helped him hit all those home runs.

Uhhhh . . . did I say that out loud?


Anonymous said...

Not about me, but my daughter - then about 7. Not an athlete, but the young sister of 2 jocks and she decided she wanted to play basketball. This was an "everyone plays"church league. The game was close and lots of rough play for little girls, but everyone was happy. Near the end of the game, my daughter finds herself back in and is running back and forth smilin and happy to be alive! Clearly her team will win, but with 30 seconds left, as they get to her tem's goal, she gets the ball under the goal and all the girls aying circle around and cheer her, the parents cher, even the ref is cheering, and she keeps shooting until she hits. I don't ever remember a bigger smile.