Football Season is Nigh

It’s almost that time of year again. The sun is starting to go down earlier and the light during the day is taking on that faded quality. While the days are still warm, the night time temps are starting to drop just a little bit. Football season is almost upon us…which means it’s time for me to start drinking heavily.

College football is a way of life in the South. People live and die by the outcomes of the games played on Saturday. When you talk about football here you get worn out platitudes about kids who play for the love of the game. Never mind the score, you’re self-worth is played for on Saturday afternoons. If your school wins then you have bragging rights all week. If they lose, then you’re not sporting any gear until next weekend. Saturday is king. But not with me. I don’t give a shit about college football.

Let me clarify. I’ll watch college games occasionally. If there’s a particularly big match up then I’m definitely going to be in front of my TV taking it all in…but not until week six or so. I will gladly miss an early season college football game in favor of almost anything else. The spirit of competition is overrated anyhow. Give me pro football. A mercenary game filled with the best players the sport has to offer. Sure, it’s nice to draft a player and have him retire with the franchise, but sentimentality doesn’t win championships. Hired guns rule the NFL. With one paycheck your franchise can turn itself around. And with one bad decision your team can be sunk of years.

Take my team, for example. I’ve been a Carolina Panthers fan for going on ten years. I remember the first game I ever watched. My brother and I were spending the weekend with our dad—we spent every other weekend with him. Although the weekend was usually fun, Sundays felt a little disjointed. We often didn’t do anything because we had to go back to our mother’s later in the evening, so that last day often felt like a countdown. One fateful Sunday my brother and I were flipping around looking for something to watch. There was nothing on, as was usual on a Sunday afternoon with basic cable. It was closing in on one o’clock and my brother suggested we watch the Panthers game. Now I had never been a big fan of sports—being unable to play them yourself can take away your desire to watch other people play—but I had we had no other alternative, so we tuned in. As it turned out this was to be the first game in what turned out to be the best year in franchise history. The Panthers found themselves down seventeen to nothing at the end of the first half. In the closing minutes fans in the stands had started chanting for Jake Delhomme (the backup quarterback) to be substituted in to the game. And that’s when the magic happened.

Let’s go to the video: 

 

I can barely describe how thrilling that second half was. I had never been more wrapped up in the ups and downs of a sporting event before. By the time Delhomme threw the game winning touchdown my palms were sweating, my heart was pounding, and my nerves were fried. And I was hooked. The whole season was like that. Every game seemed to come down to the final seconds, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It’s still holds a place in my heart as not only the season that turned me into a sports fan, but also the best season in franchise history. Free agency made that happen. Jake Delhomme and Stephen Davis were the two players most responsible for the turn around that year and they both spent the previous season on different teams. Delhomme was a backup in New Orleans and Davis was with Washington. But that’s why I love pro football above more than almost anything else. One or two smart signings can completely change the course of the franchise, and a couple of bad signings can ruin your team for years. That’s what makes every offseason so exciting. College football doesn’t have that to the same extent. Sure, there’s always the possibility that a blue chip player will sign with your school, but those guys mostly go to one of a few prestigious universities. It’s increasingly rare for a top flight player to choose to go to a smaller school and turn around their destiny, not with television exposure and a lucrative pro career on the line. In the NFL there is always a possibility—however slim—that your team is going to land that one free agent that’s going to take you to the Promised Land. A football Moses, if you will. That thought is what allows me to get through the long, boring, baseball filled offseason. Only a couple of weeks left before the start of another year. Maybe it will be good and maybe it will be bad, but I’ll be living for Sunday either way.

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Reboot!

I’m not going to lie, I’m not happy with myself. I started out this blog with the greatest of intentions. A new post was going to be written every day. I was going to dazzle readers with my wit and insights. People were going to love me and possibly offer me sexual favors as payment for how entertaining I was. But I’m trying to be honest. And honestly, I’m super lazy and not that good of a writer. I enjoy writing for sure, but a lot of times I think it’s just a vanity project. So I wrote two posts in the last year between identity crises. I go through a lot of those. Maybe I’m just trying on identities until I find one that fits. Probably I’m just a boring regular person who is desperately looking for any and all ways to appear interesting. In either case, I’m giving this blog thing another shot.

Starting today I’m going to be doing three post a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The posts are mostly going to be personal observations about my own life, but I’m also going to try to mix in some short fiction and possibly some commentary on current events. I want to make it clear, however, that I’m not going to promise anything. Based on my track record, it’s entirely possible that this is going to be the only time you hear from me until I eventually delete this blog in disgrace. I hope that’s not the case, but we’ll see.

Despite all my self-deprecation and excuse making, I hope that anyone who stumbles across this site takes some enjoyment from my writing because that’s why I’m doing this. So…enjoy!

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The Rapture or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Armageddon

It’s been a long time since I wrote my first post. I have no excuse other than the fact that I’m super lazy. So…onward and upward.

Although I’m no longer religious (I’m an atheist now in point of fact), there was a time when I believed very deeply. Like most people in America, I was raised a Christian. Baptist when I was very little and then many different flavors of Protestant. While none of it stuck completely, there are still one or two things that color the way I think today.

When I was twelve years old, the ‘Left Behind’ books were published. If you’re not familiar with these novels — and you should be so lucky — they are a fictional account of the Christian End Times. For the purpose of this post, the only important plot point is that at the beginning of the first novel every True Christian is whisked away to heaven in the event known as the Rapture. This is good for them because they’re with Jesus and bad for everyone else because shit’s about to go down. End of the world shit.

In conjunction with the adult ‘Left Behind’ novels, there was also a kid’s version which is what I read. And it fucked me up. I don’t know if it was because I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that I truly didn’t believe or if I just didn’t consider myself worthy, but those books convinced me that the Rapture was imminent and I definitely wasn’t getting taken. I had a feeling in my chest — which I now realize was probably a panic attack — that made me think that something major was about to happen. Like I was getting a sign from above.

One morning I was laying in bed. Because of my disability, someone has to get me up. Usually this was my mom, but she was late in coming in to help me. So I called out for her to get out of bed. No answer. She didn’t always hear me the first time I would call so I tried again. Still nothing. The little worm of fear started burrowing into my brain.

“She’s not there,” it said. “No one’s there. Because you’ve been Left Behind.”

I pushed that thought out of my head. No way. She’s was just outside doing something. I decided to call my stepfather. He almost never left the house, so if my mom wasn’t there then he definitely would be. I called out for him. Zilch. Nothing. Nada.

The worm returned, whispering in my ear.

“You know they’re gone. Nobody is coming for you. you’re gonna die in your bed, all by yourself.”

Now I was in full freak out mode. Convinced that I was now completely alone and helpless, I started yelling as loud as I could for anyone that might hear me. I don’t remember how long exactly this went on, but, at the time, it seemed like an eternity.

Eventually, my mom came in the front door of the house and then into my room once she heard me yelling. What had happened was that she had gone on a walk around the block and my stepdad was taking a phone call on the back porch. So basically I freaked out for no reason.

Back to the present and my point in telling that story. Even though I don’t believe in the Rapture anymore, that fear of being abandoned is still with me. When I call out and no one answers, the first thought that flashes across my mind is ‘Left Behind’. And this, I think, is the perniciousness of religious thought. No matter how ridiculous much of it is and no matter how rational you may be, it can still take a hold of your mind years after you thought you were done with it.

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Drunk Driving in a Wheelchair

Welcome to the site everyone. If your reading this, I can only assume that you either know me personally or were unfortunate enough to click a series of links and ended up in the inescapable abyss that is my blog. Sorry to those in the latter group.

I hate the introductory posts that are typical for most new blogs. No matter your intention, these posts either end up being self-aggrandizing or overly self-deprecating and are of no use to anyone.

So go to the ‘About’ page for all that shit.

What I decided to do to introduce myself is to tell a story from my near recent past that will hopefully illuminate where I’m coming from and the kind of person that I am now. So, for your enjoyment, I present the cautionary tale of the time I got so drunk that I flipped my wheelchair off a curb.

My little brother was in college, to begin with. He, my dad, and I have always been really close. So after he went away to school, Dad and I had made it a habit to visit him a couple of times each semester. These visits usually entailed  a meal at one of the local restaurants my brother frequented and then some drinks in whatever hotel my dad and I booked a room while watching movies on cable.

On this particular visit, we went to a sports bar that had drink specials that are only available in towns where the majority of the population are college kids. The special of the day happened to be Long Island Iced Teas (LIIT). Now, I’m a sucker for liquor deals as I’m not a beer guy and I don’t like to order wine at a sports bar. So I partook in this fantastic deal and ordered a LIIT.

As most experienced drinkers know, LIITs have the ability to put anyone on their ass. They are delicious and loaded with alcohol. Bad combination for a novice drinker. Which I was.

The three of us had a couple of drinks at the bar and then retired to the hotel room for an evening of bad movies . Luckily for us, my brother had half a handle of vodka so we were set. Unlucklily for us, two adult males with a high tolerance for alcohol and one who thinks he can keep up makes half a handle disappear quickly.

We’ll fast forward a bit for the sake of story telling. A few hours later, we were out of liquor. Some people see this as a sign to stop drinking. Everyone else knows it’s time for a beer run. Fortunately, the hotel my dad chose was across the street from a beer emporium. My brother volunteered to run over and I volunteered to go with him because I didn’t know how drunk I was. He did know how drunk I was, so he declined my offer. My dad convinced my brother to take me with him because…brothers!

After a harrowing trip to the beer shop that I remember almost nothing about and in which I, allegedly, almost destroyed a display of beer, my brother and I returned to the hotel.

As in most hotels, there were a series of columns at the entrance. These columns were situated so that there was about a foot of concrete in front of them and the walking space was behind them. Most everyone knows that drinking kills both depth perception and the ability to listen to reason. When my brother and I returned to the hotel, we were walking/rolling side by side. Being very intoxicated (i.e. drunk), I decided it was a good idea for us to go on opposite sides of the column. My brother, being not drunk, suggested this was a bad idea. Me, being drunk and thinking I knew everything, ignored him. I chose to drive my three foot wide chair to the street side of the column where there was a half a foot of concrete.

We all know what happened next and I’m going to get to it, but before I do I want to say something in my defense.

I made it past that column.

Have you ever seen a disaster movie where something horrific happens and you hear the disembodied voice of a woman screaming in the background? This is almost exactly what happened when I went off the curb.

As I was drunk, the sequence of flipping is kind of disjointed, but I remember everything afterward very clearly. Here it is, in script form (Bold = actions/character descriptionsItalics = characters) :

ME (V.O.)

Holy shit! I just flipped my chair.

A woman in the background lets a a shrill scream.

MY BROTHER

(Ashen faced, panicked)

Oh my god. Are you hurt? What do I do?

I take brief inventory of my body. Flex my neck and arms. Nothing is hurt.

WOMAN

Are you okay?!

ME (To MY BROTHER)

Go to the room; get Dad.

ME (CONT’D)

(To WOMAN)

I’m fine. Thanks.

This was not the first time my brother had seen me helpless on the ground (but that’s another story), so he ran and to get my dad. Due to my state, I can’t say for sure how long it was, but they seemed to arrive very quickly, got my chair upright, and we headed back to our room leaving a very confused woman standing in the hotel driveway.

I know that this story will not be applicable to everyone, but I hope that any wheelchair bound reader will take it to heart. I won’t say don’t drink and drive, because my wheeled peers always will be, but make sure you at least stay on the inside of the columns.

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