Big Daddy's Slump

Big Daddy's Slump

The week leading up to the home opener for WBL 2009, my whole body was popping with sizzle-zangers I was so stoked. I'd be strolling down the sidewalk in the middle of a picture-perfect day, and suddenly I'd start to shimmy-shake in the shoulders and shiver-quiver in the hips as lightning jolts of excitement ran through my limbs and burned into the endpoints of all my appendages. All my jimmy-jons were jumping. When Saturday morning finally rolled around, my eyes popped opened like I was heavy-duty drug dealer with the popo pounding at the door. In fact, my first thought was to hide my stash. After a couple of hard blinks I bolted up right in my bed and yelled, "Hale yes, Baby-Doll-Deluxer-Fried-it's the WBL!" It was 4 in the morning.

I sensed an old, familiar twizzle-twitch around my lap. Halefire and tarnation, my amatory organ was empurpled with sin and emblazoned with lust-my little libido was greatly inspired. What to do? I decided to swing for the fence: I leaned over, tapped my old lady on the shoulder, and in my sweetest, kindest, gentlest, most singsong voice whispered, "Hey, Honey-Bunches-of-Pretty-Purple-Petunias, how bout an itty-bitty sliver of pumpkin pie for yo sweet ole Big Daddy? You know I'm way past due. Hale honey, Big Daddy's hurtin here." I held my breath and sucked in my gut, just in case.

My old lady's eyes also sprang open, but in a different sort of way. Her blank stare was like that of a cosmic visionary shot through the eyes with a divine light. Presently, she spied my pulsing pride and groaned like a yak whose hoof had been stepped on by an overweight elephant. She pulled the covers up over her nose, locked her legs, rolled her eyes, and said, "Dear gawd." She flipped over and pretended to be dead. Obviously, my offer of momentary entanglement had plopped to the ground like a wet turd. For one brief but glorious moment I imagined myself throttling her about the neck with my bare hands, thumbs pressed diligently into her Adam's apple, Beethoven's V hammering in the background.

I stormed to the kitchen in a spluttering rage, muttering the B word under my breath, and marked another big black X on the calendar. I bore down extra special hard with the magic marker because I'm a sore loser. I was so incensed that I turned around and tried to kick the dog in the ribs, but missed and crushed my big toe on the wall instead. I screamed "M----- F-----" as loud as I could. Big Daddy might be in a slump.

I took two tiny shots of white lightning to stop the shaking. Then I took two more to ease the pain. Then I took the time to meticulously pen a complaint against the cold-hearted, obdurate, uncaring, selfish, unkind, no-good, money spending, two-timing, heart stomping, leg-locked, painted-up Jezebel that presently was playing possum in my conjugal quarters. Once I started writing my detailed précis (I know her like a book), that tricky old devil that lives in my brain escaped his bottle and cut loose in a flurry of furious words and phrases. Hale, I don't even remember what I wrote, and I didn't save a copy. I sprayed out a splenetic spiracle of misdeeds, missteps, misjudgments, misstatements, and miscalculations she caused me to make over the years. I listed all her faults from not raising the toilet seat after she finishes her business to refusing to darn my socks. I even mentioned the fact that she refuses to don the black mini-maid skirt I purchased from Victoria's Secret complete with duster, black stockings, white lace apron, and high-heeled stilettos. I shouldn't have mentioned the mini skirt. That was like leaving the barn door wide open.

I folded my missive and placed it in an envelope, along with my "required reading fee" of $100, and wrote "The Commissioner" on the outside of the envelope. I planned to hand the envelope to Carney in downtown Athens at the start of the first WBL event. I knew that Carney would see things my way-I've been a faithful sycophant these past few years. For example, I routinely polish his boots, take his shirts to the cleaners, pack his lunch, cancel appointments for him, sign fan mail for him, solicit donors for his charitable trusts, request free tickets to the Dogs' games, make dinner reservations, reserve t-times, pay his bills, loan him money, lie to all his assorted lovers, and drive his drunk ass around. I'm owed! I felt that Carney would grant my request and order my wife to "hook-me-up." I remember that I wrote that I needed my "hookup by midnight tonight," and also that "The king shall have his quittance." While licking the envelope, I grinned with a malicious satisfaction knowing that come nightfall, my salacious itches would be scrupulously scratched. Unfortunately, I sliced my tongue open on the flap.

Writing my little angry tome restored my equilibrium-after being knocked off kilter, the bubble of my being was once again perfectly centered. Demeaning others always helps me refocus. In fact, I was downright psyched. Rolling down the highway in our new convertible towards downtown A-Town, I cranked Foghat on the sound system, lit a cigarette, took a long lusty drag, stuck my head out the window, exhaled, and howled into the wind: "Slow ride, da-na-na-na-na-na-na/Take it easy, da-na-na-na-na-na-na." The world seemed a safe and happy place filled with wonderful and beneficent people who were kind to strangers and always had another's best interests at heart: Lawyers don't lie, bankers don't cheat, stock brokers are honest, it really is a man's world, movie stars are sages, academics always credit another's work, a husband can always trust a preacher left alone with his wife, and Donald Rumsfeld is a funny, humorous, mostly misunderstood, all-around swell fellow. I even imagined that the Zealots are fine, upstanding folk. Good-looking too. As I was lolling my huge watermelon head out the window, a bug flew into my mouth and ran headlong into the fleshy stalactite hanging at the back of my throat. I screamed "M----- F-----"as loud as I could, but couldn't hear a single word. All I heard was Foghat yelling, "Slow Ride, da-na-na-na-na-na-na/Take it easy, da-na-na-na-na-na-na."

The mind is a complex warren of interconnected tunnels filled with trap doors, secret rooms, and forgotten passages. The brain tends to sweep the memories of unseemly sights into rarely used antechambers, ready to be recalled when needed. The mind has its own agenda, and it molds its memory to fit the contours of its own reality. Yes, I was psyched about WBL 2009 all right, until I arrived in downtown Athens and my eyes were jolted back to reality when they (my two eyeballs) made contact (by visionary means and methods) with the utter catastrophe that had spilled out onto the streets of downtown Athens-the Zealots. I'd completely forgotten what a sad and sorry sight they were. The trapdoor in the aforementioned antechamber sprang open and whole host of horrible memories rushed through my mind like a nightmare. "M----- F-----," I whispered to myself.

The place was jam-packed with porn scholars (Steve 6 Gun Sevener), dumpster divers (Mike Buechel), trailer trash (Sam Rafal), pernickety pederasts (O Quinn), convicted felons (Tim Stone), insane insomniacs (Anthony Herbert), nattering nabobs (Phil Gilman), prolific philistines (Rebecca Larsen), and plain old mean folk (Louis Kirchner). Even the newly betrothed showed up (Jackie Blackheart Blackwell). Mostly, however, it was filled with hammerhadeus p. rex, a wayward branch of hominoid that twisted off at an odd, incongruous, and vexing angle from the main shoot. Looking out over the vulgar mess, I wondered how in the world an oversight of this magnitude could have occurred. Whoooo-weeee, I thought, somebody's gone sure pay for this. I held my breath, sucked in my gut, and jumped feet first into the fray. I blended right in.

I walked 50 steps and witnessed a dreadful and devastating sight: the physiognomy of Lloyd Flandis in the flesh. I froze in my tracks, as if I'd stumbled into the lair of the Jolly Green Giant. The Good Lord knows I'm not one to cast stones-I've got plenty of my own faults-but Lloyd Flandis looked like death that was not only warmed over, but that had also had the shit kicked out of it. Eeeeegads, I thought when I saw him, he's obviously drinking again. Lloyd looked like he was in the middle of a weeklong binger of pills, booze, hash houses, and hookers. He looked so unruly, unkempt, matted, mangy, dirty, and disheveled that it hurt my eyes to look at him, so I squeezed them shut as tight as I could and said two Hail Mary's. I stretched out my arms and tried to feel my way to the sign-in table like a blind man, but I stumped my big toe on the curb. That surly old devil bolted out of my mouth and screamed, "M----- F------." My toe was temporarily insane.

(I made the same slip of the tongue earlier this year in church when Deacon O'Dougald stepped on my big toe while passing the plate. I don't know what it is that causes me to lose my focus when someone steps on my toe, but Deacon O'Dougald is as big as an ox and it wouldn't hurt him to skip a meal or two every so often. Plus, I think he did it on purpose because at the church picnic I told him his wife looked liked she'd be "fun to fool around with." O'Dougald can't take a joke if you ask me. Anyway, it felt like my toe had been crushed down to a paper thin patty. I screamed "M----- F-----" in the middle of the church service and Father O'Flaherty dropped the crystal chalice and passed out cold on the floor. The crystal chalice shattered into a thousand pieces. I feel real bad about that, but hey, I'm only human. Anyway, the devil made me do it.)

I found Carney, handed him the envelope, and said, "Read this."

He said, "OK. Hey, by the way, how about keeping your stories this year centered on the ride instead of your puzzling mental meanderings."

Feeling emboldened by white lightning I said, "You do what you do best, and I'll do the same."

He looked at me and said, "Will do," and winked. I went queasy in the knees. Now I know why. Soon you'll know too.

There were a couple of bright spots in downtown Athens, but even a 40 watt bulb looks like a beacon of hope in the pitch black darkness of despair. But old time Zealots Drewdini Johnston and Ryan Ryno Barnett had their game faces on, and after what these two bare-knuckle pugilists have been through, their fortitude lit up the sky not like a 40 watt bulb, but rather like high beams on the space shuttle. After the opening day announcements, these two lads went to the front and led the grupetto at a comfortable clip down Millledge Avenue and towards the Elysium fields of Watkinsville and beyond. As Ryno cruised down sorority row, young girls whooped and whistled, grown men shouted and cheered, and Phil Gilman yelled, "Yougotdatritecrowmagnonman." I looked up at Ryno and noticed his handcycle was two inches off the ground. I do believe that boy is learning to fly.

The pack encountered thorn bushes, speed bumps, shoulder-launched rockets, hippos in the road, rubber-neckers, and other hindrances on the way out of town. Skirting around Watkinsville the group even encountered a country parade: A long line of John Deere tractors coughed plumes of smoke in the air as those who sat astride the metal machines hooped and hollered as the Zealots cruised by and they caught sight of their two-wheeled brethren-Team John Deere in its bright green and yellow, color-coordinated, Jamaican inspired, Oakland Athletic-styled, fancy-pantsy, rhinestone-studded John Deere regalia. It was like a mother and child reunion. It brought me to tears.

After 10 miles of stop and go, sputtering and spluttering, stopping and starting, and even one chin bouncing off some soft railroad tracks (poor tracks), the pack was finally free and clear of all obstacles and set about making up for lost time. And the only way to ever find time that's gone astray is to hammer like the sun won't rise again; and boys and girls, hammer like that is exactly what they did.

Big Jon Boy Atkins and 6-Gun Sevener were the first to toss fuel on the fire in the furnace. These two didn't just stoke the fires either; they left their anvils roasting in the fire until it melted to red hot magma. In other words, these boys shifted to overdrive, pressed down on the accelerator, and let her rippity-dippity down the blacktop.

The large contingent of slugabed rock stars were purged of any lethargy and joined in the fight at the front: Lloyd Flandis, Jon Murphy, Billy Bob Bray, Don Giannini, Gregor Rocomocco, Emilio Reyanaldo Sincerimus Abrahamus, JJ Wadkins, and Ricky the Sex Fuqua all went to the front and ratcheted up the pace until the needle was in the red zone. They turned the screw a little tighter with each change of leadership at the front. 30 miles in I was crying for Papa. And that damn Lloyd Flandis beats all I ever saw. Bless his cold, cold heart. He continued to go to the front and ram it home in an extraordinary display of pedaling fury. It hurt my eyeballs just watching him torture his big ring in such a cruel and malevolent manner. Not only did my eye sockets start hurting, but the following body parts were also singing the blues: my thighs, my aorta, my lungs, my quads, my neck, my triceps, my twizzle-twitcher, my lapis lazuli, my honey spot, and my large assus. All I could do was spray out plosives in between sucking in bucketfuls of oxygen, both ungraceful gestures accomplished through the orotund orifice in the middle of my face.

Only a certain number of wolves can live on a certain parcel of land. The same holds true for birds, insects, trees, plants, shrubs, and furry critters of all makes, models, and brands. It's natural selection-an ecosystem can only support so many mouths. The same holds true for a moving pack in the WBL: The particular terrain a group travels over will only support a certain number of riders in one pack-eventually some are lopped off, like useless appendages, and the group marches on. Throughout history the survival of the great herds has depended on a few giving themselves back to the land. That's a poetic way of saying that during the annual migrations across the mighty Serengeti, a few gazelle will be ripped to pieces by the crocodiles, and a few more will stripped to the bone by the lions, gnawed on by the jackals, and finally hacked to bits by the buzzards. Such is the cold, harsh reality of the WBL. Amen brother, pass the bottle this way.

The pack whittled its way down to around 70 strong, and kept the hot mustard spread thick and the fires in the hearth burning bright. Though the middle section of this 3.5 hour fiasco on wheels is flat and fast, the constant pressure at the front still caused quite a bit of consternation in the thighs. But these last 70 hammer-yammer dogs were here to stay, and they ripped through the countryside with the greatest of ease. The pack tamped the tempo into Walton County, zippity-do-da-dayed through the Gratis Community, burnt rubber into Statham, and rolled like fire across the Bear Creek Reservoir on its bend back to town. The pack was rocketing so fast down the runway toward Bear Creek that two galloping horses became inspired, dumped their riders, and bolted off into the wild gray yonder. "M----- F-----" the two horsey riders yelled as their galloping beasts turned into small dots on the horizon and faded from view.

By the time the group of weary-legged, but ecstatic-eyed, pedal bangers reached the steep inclines of the Oconee River Wall and the Tallassee Tempest, two bone crushing climbs, everyone's legs were leaking oil. The blues weren't being sung now, but rather cried, the way they were meant to be belted out. And to make matters worse, Murphy, Nick Knuckle-Head Reistad, and Flandis went blazing up the Tallassee Tempest like three hot tamales in search of Tabasco sauce. Others followed up the monster, brontosaurus-backed hummock in ones and twos. Gaps opened in the line of riders like rips in rotten cotton bloomers blowing in the raging wind. But the group of lusty adventurers dug deep one last time and mustered the courage to dixy-dew-drop up the hill. Over the top, the gang regrouped and headed for home. By the time we blitzed down Prince Avenue and into downtown Athens with 75 miles and 3 hours, forty-five minutes deposited into the body bank, my twizzle-twitcher was numb, my lower back was nothing but a floret of pain, my knees had the knobby-nocks, and I was plum tuckered out. Salud, boys and girls, another fine day in the WBL.

After the ride I looked for Carney. I hadn't seen him since the start and I'd ridden in the back. That's the particular section where Carney usually hangs. Maybe he'd been one of the rogues ramping up the speed at the front. But no, he was nowhere to be seen. This is even better, I thought, he's already working on our project.

When I walked in the kitchen door at home I knew my plan had worked like a perfectly timed attack. My wife was already tightly ensconced in the mini-maid skirt. And those high heels were smoking. My twizzle started twitching like there was a five-alarm fire-I was overheating fast.

"Where's Ben," I said. He's our 13 year-old demon-brat.

"Upstairs," she said. "Be right back."

My libido was energized. I dropped my drawers right there on the spot. (I kept my socks on-the floor was cold.) I leaned back and put my hands on my hips. I was grinning like a jackass.

My significant other staccato-walked around the corner. She had a little black purse with a long gold chain slung over her shoulder. She walked right by me-clip-clip-clip-clip-clip-and right out the door. She hopped in the convertible, revved the engine, and let down the top. She put on a head scarf and dark sunglasses. She looked like Jackie O dressed up like a porn star. My sex tilted towards the heavens.

"But...but...where are you going?" I stammered.

"Over to Briggs's place, you big dummy. Apparently you signed me up for counseling class. Tonight's class is called How to Satisfy yo Man. Briggs told me to wear something easy on the eyes."

She leaned her head back and laughed and screeched backwards out of the driveway. At that time, I imagined centering her skull in the crosshairs of my scope, and gently squeezing the trigger, Beethoven's V hammering in the background.

When she was about a 100 yards down the road, she turned on the stereo. I heard Foghat belt out "Slow Ride, da-na-na-na-na-na-na/Take it easy, da-na-na-na-na-na-na." She joined in and sang along. Turning right at the stop sign at the end of the road, she turned and waved. Then she turned the volume up even louder. I heard Slow Ride in my sleep that night. In my dream, the lead singer was on stage in a black mini-maid skirt. An analyst would get lost in my mind.

I walked back inside and my son was marking black x's across the calendar.

"Just what the Sam hale do you think you're doing, ya little brat," I growled in a smug tone.

He looked up at me and grinned: "Mom told me to mark off the rest of the month."

I tried to kick the prick in the groin, but missed and crushed my toe on the refrigerator. I screamed "M----- F-----" as loud as I could.

Big Daddy is definitely in a rut.

The Humble Chronicler (12-7-08) (toe still throbbing)