Chapter 16
Skittles and Dynamite

Bill peers into the minivan window, his wife Karen hanging on his arm. They are both clad in bathrobes.

“PSP, iPod, DVD Player?” Bill says.

“Check, check, and check,” I say.

“Snacks, tent, sleeping bags?” Karen says.

“Got ‘em,” Shannon says.

“42 inch TV, satellite dish?” Bill says.

I glare at him. He grins. “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine,” he says.

I don’t believe him.

“And don’t worry about the cats,” Bill says. “I’ll feed them plenty of Brutus’s dog chow. What are their names? Skittles and Dynamite?”

Karen playfully taps Bill’s chest. “We’ll take care of Itchy and Scratchy for you,” she says.

Bill leans forward and whispers to me. “Nine hours to Sioux Falls,” he says. “Watch as much Sportscenter in the hotel bar as you can.” Then he leans back and speaks in full throat. “I’ll DVR everything for you,” he says. “Just keep from finding out the scores. That should be no problem where you’re going.”

As we back out of the driveway, the kids are already whining. Bill grins and waves like a man secure in the knowledge that he will be enjoying the rest of the NBA finals from the comfort of his own home.

Four hours later, I am standing over the carcass of a baby deer in the breakdown lane of Interstate 90. Shannon remains in the car, looking sour and disgusted behind the wheel.

The tinted rear van window buzzes down. Edwin’s face appears.

“Is it dead?” he asks, popping goldfish crackers into his mouth.

I ponder a white, winding string of deer intestine.

“Yup,” I say.

“Can I see it?”

“No, stay in the car.”

I pop my head through the passenger window. Shannon looks horrified.

“You alright honey?” I say.

Shannon scans the flat, wide-open Wisconsin landscape.

“Look at it out here,” she says. “You can see for miles. Yellowstone is nothing like this – it’s dense and hilly and has, like, a thousand times more wildlife.” Shannon stares morosely at the deer. “There was only one tiny deer out here, and I managed to hit it.” Her eyes bulge with fear. “Oh my God, we’re going to kill everything.”

“No we won’t, honey,” I say. “I’m sure a few of the animals we hit will survive. I mean, they’ll limp away and live in agony for the rest of their days, but they’ll survive.”

“That’s not funny,” she says.

“Are you sure? Cause I think it might be.”

“Could you check the car please?” she says.

“I did. It looks fine,” I say, glancing toward the front bumper.

“No, you went straight for the blood and guts,” she says. “Just check again, will you?”

I go to the front of the car for a better look at the bumper and hood. Aside from some deer fur and blood, the damage is minimal.

Patch’s voice sounds from behind me.

“Lucky the airbags didn’t deploy,” he says, walking up next to me. “You know how much it costs to reset airbags?”

“How much?” I say.

Patch looks toward the horizon and thinks.

“A whole bunch, I’ll bet,” he says.

This is going to be a long trip.


A storyboard image from the
Disney version of Traveling,
scheduled for release: Summer 2013.

Chapter 17
clockwork orange

“Is that the heart?” Patch says, studying the distended guts.

“I’m going to say kidney,” Stache says.

“Do animals have kidneys?” Bandana says.

“Why wouldn’t they?” I say.

The road kill slide is followed by a picture of a town that appears to have been ravaged by an earthquake or a tornado or something. The next image is a car wreck, and then cowboy outlaws hanging from nooses.

“What is the point of this again?” I say.

Tooth taps the Enter button on his laptop. Man on an operating table. “To gave us all some perspective,” he says. Taps Enter. Burning building. “To make us realize that winning and losing is meaningless in the grand scheme of things. We need to keep perspective.”

“So looking at these images is supposed to make me not care about winning my fishing tournament next month?” Bandana says. “What is this, Clockwork Orange?

Tooth hits Enter. Picture of Greek Gods fighting each other. Looks like Zeus and Poseidon.

“What’s that supposed to be?” Patch says.

Tooth shrugs. “I was trying to convey religion there,” he says.

“By showing us Clash of the Titans?” Stache says.

Tooth ponders. “Yeah, I wasn’t sure about that one,” he says.

Enter. A shot of Earth from space.

Enter. An image of the solar system.

“You know what I think this presentation conveys?” Stache says. “That you could dearly use a Psychology degree.”

Tooth looks hurt. “The online degree is almost done,” he says.

Enter. Picture of a satellite dish.

“What’s that mean?” Patch says.

Tooth looks at me.

Must mean Game 2.


Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate, Chapter 2: Two e-mails, Chapter 3: Pattern, Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee, Chapter 6: Suicide, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers, Chapter 9: June, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no, Chapter 11: DNA, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin, Chapter 14: Game 1, Chapter 15: Who the H is John Havlicek?, Chapters 16 - 17, Chapter 18: Game 2: Great White, Chapter 19: Pickle

Labels: , , ,


No wonder nobody's heard of him. Look how tiny he is.
I think this is how they filmed the hobbits for Lord of the Rings.

“Seriously?” I say. “John Havlicek? One of the greatest Celtics of all time? One of the greatest basketball players of all time?”

Bandana waves a dismissive hand at me and looks at Tooth. “See? I told you I wouldn’t identify with this,” Bandana says.

“Oh, come on,” I say. “This is basic history. Next you’re going to tell me you’ve never heard of Bob Cousy.”

They’re all staring, blank faces.

“Are you people kidding me?” I say.

Greatest basketball picture ever? Forget the lighting, the contortion of Cousy's body and about that his moves are causing his opponents to set picks on each other.

“Listen, Doug,” Tooth says. “Just try to stay on point.”

“Aren’t my obsessions exactly on point?” I say.

“Look,” Bandana says. “If you can keep the Celtics lore to a minimum, I’ll stop trying to imagine you’re a Bulls fan. We got a deal?”

Resentfully, I nod.

“Look at that,” Tooth says with a smile. “Progress.” He looks at his watch. “And that makes this a perfect time to end this meeting. Thanks everybody.”

Immediately, Blackberries and cell phones reappear, and the rest of the guys return to their isolated digital worlds.

Except for one.

In the hallway, Patch walks shoulder-to-shoulder with me.

“Doug, question,” he says.


“Do you think I can do that?”

“Do what?”

“Make a hologram of your wife like that. That was awesome. It was like the Matrix.”

“Dude, let it go,” I say.

“Why would you mind?” Patch says. “It’s not even really her. She was a – what’d he say?”

“A phantasm,” I say.

“Yeah,” Patch says. “When you touched her, could you feel anything? Or is it like the movie Ghost? Because it looked like she moved when you touched her.”

I stop in the middle of the hallway and stare Patch down.

“Look, she’s the product of collective whimsy,” I say. “You saw her, so therefore you must possess some whimsy…or libido, or something. So I’m sure you can work up enough imagination to make it happen again.” I press a finger into his doughy chest. “But use someone else’s wife, will ya?”

He nods again, and we continue down the hall and exit the school. In the middle of the parking lot is my bed, and Shannon sleeping in it. Her nightgown is tighter and smaller.

I look to Patch.

“Could you please wait to get home before you do it?” I say.

He nods in silent shame, and we part ways.


Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate, Chapter 2: Two e-mails, Chapter 3: Pattern, Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee, Chapter 6: Suicide, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers, Chapter 9: June, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no, Chapter 11: DNA, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin, Chapter 14: Game 1, Chapter 15: Who the H is John Havlicek?, Chapters 16 - 17

Labels: , , ,

Chapter 14
Game 1, Chicago
Lakers 103, Celtics 89


Bill and I stare at the TV screen with dead expressions as the clock ticks down to 0:00. At the buzzer, Bill tries to pull himself together.

“No problem,” he says, his hand limp over the edge of the near-empty bowl of Cheetos. “If we win game 2, we steal home court. Just need one of the first two.”

I shrug and slump. “I don’t know,” I say. “Maybe it’s just better if we get swept.”

Bill looks at me like I’ve just threatened his children. “Excuse me?” he says.

“I don’t know,” I say. “If it goes seven games, you know how much more heartbreaking that’ll be than just getting swept?”

Bill stands. Behind him on the screen, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is doing his happy-go-lucky post-game interview, smiling from ear to ear.

“Look, I know you have your trip coming up in a few days,” Bill says, pointing an orange-stained finger at me, “and I realize that a long, drawn out series could make your life a little tougher, but I’m not going to tolerate quitter talk.”

Suddenly, the Elvis Presley version of Glory, Glory, Halleluiah starts playing under Bill’s words.

“You think Larry Bird was ready to quit with his team down 2-1 in the ’84 Finals?” Bill says.

I shake my head.

“No!” Bill says. “And what happened?”

I reply in a weary, defeated voice. “They won game 4,” I say.

“And then took the Championship,” Bill says, “And you think when Larry, or John Havlicek for that matter, were in trouble in their respective Eastern Conference Finals games with 5 seconds left to play, that either of them decided to quit? No they didn’t. What did they do?”

“They stole the ball.”

“That’s right,” Bill says. “Twenty-two years apart, they each stole the ball.

Bill starts to pace a bit, like a coach delivering a great halftime speech. Even with an orange Cheeto hand, he’s kind of inspiring.

“And when Bill Russell faced the demons of racism, sometimes from his own team’s fans, what did he do?”

I stare. For a second, I’m not sure what answer Bill is looking for, but then I realize there is no wrong answer.

“He persevered?” I say.

Bill rolls with it. “He persevered,” he repeats, pointing at me. Flecks of orange salt fly in my direction, “and oh yeah, he only revolutionized the game of basketball and won 11 championships, that’s all. No big deal.”

I lean forward on the couch. I’m starting to feel it.

“WWLBD, baby,” Bill says.

I look confused.

“What would Larry Bird do?” he says.

Bill knows how to get to me. He knows about the Larry shrine in the basement. He knows my dad took me to John Havlicek’s last game, and even though I didn’t understand the relevance of it at the time, it set the stage for my worship of Bird. He knows that I was in attendance for “the Duel” against Dominique and the Hawks. And he knows that despite the responsibilities of home and family that keep me from spending crazy amounts of money to attend games, my blood runs green.

“And finally,” Bill says. “Do you think this narrative is compelling to anyone if you’re a whiner and a mope?”

I shake my head.

“That’s right,” Bill says. “Nobody likes a whiner. So what are we gonna do?”

“Take game 2,” I say. And I actually believe it.

“Damn straight,” Bill says.

We both look at the TV. Kobe Bryant is finishing his standard drivel interview.

….we just have to take this series one game at a time.

“Maybe just a good ankle sprain,” Bill says, eying Kobe. “Just something to slow him down.”

“No,” I say. “We want them at full strength. Beating them means more when everyone’s healthy.”

Bill looks to me. “That’s the spirit!” he says. “That was just a test. You passed.”

I’m not sure it was a test, but I’ll take the passing grade anyway.

The TV interviewer pulls back the microphone and turns to the camera. It’s Stache.

“Thank you, Kobe,” he says. “And now, back to you for answers to larger questions, like ‘Who the hell is John Havlicek?’”


Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate, Chapter 2: Two e-mails, Chapter 3: Pattern, Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee, Chapter 6: Suicide, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers, Chapter 9: June, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no, Chapter 11: DNA, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin, Chapter 14: Game 1, Chapter 15: Who the H is John Havlicek?

Labels: , , ,

I sit up in bed.

“And then…they lose the game,” I say. Shannon rustles next to me. I lower my voice to a strong whisper. “It’s my dream, and they go and lose the game. What does that mean?”

“For one, it means you watch too many movies,” Stache says, looking around at everyone. “That death scene was a little over the top, wasn’t it?”

Tooth waves Stache off and contemplates. “It could be a subconscious fear of success,” he says. “Maybe somewhere deep inside yourself, you realize that winning will actually never satisfy you.”

This reminds me of an interview Tom Brady did for 60 Minutes where he said “There’s gotta be more than this.” The dude had won three Super Bowls before the age of 30, and he wasn’t satisfied. God, I wanted to punch him after that interview.


Don't worry, Tom. There's more to come...
namely supermodel booty and
honest-to-goodness lady hair.

Still, if he wasn’t satisfied, how could I ever be?

Patch is staring at Shannon. The way she’s positioned in bed, her cleavage is pressed together, and one of her spaghetti straps has dropped from her shoulder. I think he’s seeking nipple.

“Dude,” I say. “Would you stop that please?”

“Stop what,” Patch says.

“Trying to look into her nightgown,” I say.

Stache comes to Patch’s defense. “What’s the problem?” Stache says. “That’s not even your wife. That’s a doppelganger, a phantasm – a plot convention.”

“Yeah,” Patch nods. “What he said.”

“Still, keep your eye off my plot convention,” I say.

“What about this big Yellowstone trip?” Bandana says. “Supposedly, it’s the McGuffin of your tale, and you haven’t started it yet.”

I consider the point, and decide Bandana is right.

I lean over and tap Shannon’s shoulder.

“Honey,” I say. “Honey.”

She turns and grunts. Patch continues twisting his head for a prime angle.

“Honey, it’s June,” I say. “It’s time for our trip.”

Shannon awakens slowly, and looks at the expectant faces surrounding us.

“It’s time, sweetheart,” I say. “We need to go.”

Shannon wipes her hand across her brow. “My God, your narrative is so disjointed,” she says. “First of all, I’m the one who woke you up for the trip, like I do for anything that takes place before 10 a.m. Second, are you telling me you’re just going to skip the playoffs leading up to the finals entirely? The way the Celts rolled over D-Wade’s Heat in the first round in 5, then took down LeBron’s Cavs in 6 after being down 2-1, and finally taking out Dwight Howard’s Magic in 6?”

Bandana looks impressed. “Whoa, what just happened there?”

“In my subconscious utopia, she’s a huge sports fan,” I say.

Everybody does the I-understand ohhhh and nods.

I turn to Shannon.

“So do I get to tell this story how I want?” I say. “Or are you going to try to take control like you do with everything.

The guys look suddenly uncomfortable.

“Relax,” I say to them, taking a hold of Shannon’s shoulder and giving it a little shake. “Remember, phantasm.”

Tooth looks skeptical. “Even in an alternate reality, I’d be careful,” he advises.

I look to Shannon again. She’s fixed on me with a ferocious glare, her lips clenching like a dog ready to strike. I withdraw my hand.

Stache’s facial hair broadens with a grin.

“Fantastic,” he says. “Even the imaginary her-”

Shannon’s glare locks on Stache, who leans back with discomfort. He looks to me.

“Could we get on with it?” he says.

“Yes,” I say. “Game One.”


Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate, Chapter 2: Two e-mails, Chapter 3: Pattern, Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee, Chapter 6: Suicide, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers, Chapter 9: June, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no, Chapter 11: DNA, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin, Chapter 14: Game 1

Labels: , , , ,

It is time for action. An octogenarian is in dire need. I don’t normally know CPR, but today I do. I hasten from the stands and kneel by old man’s side. I feel for a pulse. Nothing. Place my open hand below his nose to feel for breath. Nothing again. Support the neck to flair the airway, pinch the nostrils and exhale two deep breaths into the old man’s lungs. Find the soft spot below the breastbone and administer compressions. Wow, it really sounds like I know what I’m doing; I must have been paying attention when I watched those medical shows. Back to the breaths. The old man’s glassy eyes come to life, but barely. He takes my hand. His grip is weak, frail. His fingers feel like I could break them away if I squeeze too hard.

The old man speaks. His voice is a distant rasp.

“Douglas,” he says. “Is that you, Douglas?”

I had no idea this man knew my name. It’s a magical moment.

“Yes,” I say. “I’m here, Mr…” I can’t think of his name.

“Holbrook,” he says.

“Right, Holbrook.”

His grip tightens. “I want you to take over,” he says. “Win this game for me.”
I look around. Both teams, the crowd, the refs – all of them encircle us, a mix of concern and inspiration on their faces.

Mr. Holbrook begins to fade. I give his hand a shake to reawaken him.

“Yes?” he says.

I pause. How to say this.

“So…when you say ‘Win this game for me, do you mean you want me to win it in place of you, or, like, in tribute to you? Because I don’t really know you, and I don’t think it would be appropriate…”

“Can’t you do both?” he says, his voice weakening.

“I don’t know…” I say. “I mean, a lot of movies and stuff are dedicated to people just because they died while it was being made…so, what, if you die, you get the whole thing dedicated to you? That doesn’t seem fair to everyone else who participated. I mean, what if the person who died was just the guy who made peanut butter sandwiches for the cast and crew? Not that you’re the equivalent of a guy who makes sandwiches, but I don’t think you and I have enough of a connection where-”

Despite his imminent death, Mr. Holbrook looks perturbed.

“Fine,” he says. “Do it for your son then.”

I shrug off that idea.

“You know what?” I say. “Ten seconds after a tough loss, he’s skipping around wondering where his next piece of gum is gonna come from, so I don’t really see the point-”

“Fine,” Mr. Holbrook says. “Do it for yourself then.”

I think about it. Start nodding. “Yeah,” I say. “I can get behind that.”

Mr. Holbrook’s body clenches, then goes limp. He’s on his way out.

“I’m going to switch to 1-3-1 zone defense,” I say. “I think your 2-3 zone was going nowhere.”

I take the final slump of Mr. Holbrook’s head as an authorization to change defensive strategy. As he passes out, the EMTs surge past me and try to revive him but it’s no use –he is gone.

As the stretcher is rolled off the court, I gather up the disoriented group of 9-year-olds.

“Alright, boys,” I say. “Let’s win this game.”

I gather them close, and look to each of them with profound meaning in my eyes.

“Let’s do this for me,” I say.


Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate, Chapter 2: Two e-mails, Chapter 3: Pattern, Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee, Chapter 6: Suicide, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers, Chapter 9: June, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no, Chapter 11: DNA, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin

Labels: , , ,

Shannon makes a bunch of animal noises. Not the good kind.

“I was wondering,” I say. “Would maybe…July or August be better for our trip?”

The words coming out of her groggy mouth are unintelligible, but I’m pretty sure she’s threatening to hurt me. I’m not sure why I thought she’d be more open to suggestion while half-awake. Maybe it’s because I’ve won many an argument with her while she was completely asleep.

“I hear it’s nicer at that time of year,” I say. I’ve heard no such thing, of course.

“Where’d you hear that?” she says.

“From Bill,” I say. “He’s taken the Yellowstone trip. He said July is nicer.”

“I’ve already made a bunch of reservations,” she grumbles.

“Oh,” I say.

Shannon seems to dose off again, but it’s an illusion. Five minutes later, the nightstand light is on and she’s sitting up, staring at me.

“What’s going on?” she says.

“Nothing,” I say, turning my back to her. “I just want the best experience for our family, that’s all.”

“No you don’t,” she says. “You want the trip to be so awful that you never have to do it again.”

“That’s silly,” I say.

“I’m buying a new tent, you know,” she says, like it’s a threat. Which it is.

“Good,” I say.

“You hate tents,” she says.

Before we had kids, Shannon and I camped once. Once. I lasted less than an hour in the tent before taking my sleeping bag to our Ford Escort. A Ford Escort has never felt so luxurious to me before or since.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say. “Bugs, rain, cold…I’m all about that. Love it.”

“Tent technology has improved vastly in the last 15 years, I'll have you know,” Shannon says. “We are going to be dry and bug-free. The tent even has a little overhang, like a front porch.”

“Sounds great,” I say. “I’m sure it’ll be very comfortable.”


The best tent technology 150 bucks can buy.

Shannon lies back down, but I can tell by the slow motion of her movement that she’s still deep in thought. Light off. Thirty seconds later, light back on.

“Promise me one thing,” she says. “Just try to enjoy yourself. You can make this trip miserable, or you can make it fun. I know you’re not a natural when it comes to camping, so we’ll do cabins here and there…for you.”
Cabins. Here and there. Yippee.

“I promise I’ll try to enjoy myself,” I say.

Light off. Ten seconds this time.

“What’s wrong with June anyway?”

“June is fine,” I say. “I mean, there may be some…sports things going on, but we’ll work around it.”

Sports things?” she says. “There’s no Super Bowl in June. What else is there?”
Incredible. As if there are no sporting events other than the Super Bowl. Does she not realize there’s an entire channel devoted to sports that has new stuff on it every single day? It’s as if I said to her “You already have a pair of shoes. Why would you need more?”

“It’s fine,” I say. “The NBA Finals are going on about that time, but the Celtics would still have to make it there, and that’s no guarantee, so it’s fine.”

“But if they do make it, you’ll be miserable,” she says, expectantly.

“No,” I say. I almost believe myself. “I’ll manage to find places to watch the games. I’m not worried.”

Shannon lies back down. Again, slowly. I get no reassurance from her that my needs will be met, or that my games will be watched. I can only assume that Shannon, who has been studying up on the various legs of the trip and the various facilities where we will stay, realizes that we will be about as in the middle of nowhere as we can be. I imagine the Web sites and brochures saying things like “Good luck finding a television out here!” and using that as a selling point.

Now my nightstand light goes on.

Should I be worried, honey?”

Shannon does not reply. In a miracle that defies the laws of her DNA, she is fast asleep. I’m surprised she isn’t trying to fake snore a little too.

I lie back down, realizing that my own DNA might be in jeopardy as well.

I think I’m actually hoping the Celtics don’t make the finals.

I turn my head. Next to me in bed is Patch, grinning.

“Do you need to be held?” he says.

“Shut up,” I reply.


Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate, Chapter 2: Two e-mails, Chapter 3: Pattern, Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee, Chapter 6: Suicide, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers, Chapter 9: June, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no, Chapter 11: DNA, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin

Labels: , , ,

Didn't watch the NBA Draft? Don't worry, Statbuster is here to give you the sardonic summary of what you have to look forward to this upcoming October..or whenever the lockout is over.

Kyrie Irving: The Timberwolves Award Of Point Guard Hoarding goes to the Cavs, who will potentially have $23M of cap space tied up between Erving, Baron Davis, and Ramon Sessions. On the bright side, one thing to note is that Irving was a rare member of the 50/40/90 club at Duke. Albeit he only played 11 games in college, the fact that he didn't take his freshman lumps is quite an accomplishment. Scouts are quick to point out that Erving isn't as explosive as a Derrick Rose or a John Wall, but if he continues to shoot anywhere near that rate, it won't matter. Cavaliers expect: Deron Williams. Statbuster expects: A low-budget Chris Paul.

Fun Fact: Cleveland aquired the #1 pick, pre-lottery, from the Clippers in the Baron Davis trade. Which means, the Clips turned the pick and Baron Davis into Mo Williams and Jamario Moon. And that's what makes the Clippers "The Clippers" my friend.

Derrick Williams: The Wolves focus shifts from point guards to stockpiling power forwards that live on the perimeter. It's worth noting that Williams shot a NBA Jam-like 56.8% on 3s as a sophomore. He's a shade undersized for a PF and doesn't block shots. But, if the trio of Kevin Love, Michael Beasley and Williams can find a way to play passable, never mind. Wolves expect: Antawn Jamison. Statbuster expects: Plenty of 100-point nights for teams visiting the Target Center.

Enes Kanter: A 6'11" center that has an advanced perimeter game, complete with 3-point range and the ability to put the ball on the floor. He's a bit unproven; he was ruled ineligible to play at Kentucky and basically sat at home the entire season. But scouts stopped short of calling him a project, which is good news for everyone. Kanter also noted that he wants to become a professional wrestler once his NBA days are over. A retired basketball player pretending to beat up people? Sorry, that's been done already. Jazz expects: Mehmet Okur 2.0. Statbuster expects: Vlade Divac.

Tristan Thompson: Cleveland lands an unselfish defender-type PF with Thompson. He's a bit undersized and lacks strength, but he'll partially make up for it with his wingspan (7'1") and shot blocking (2.4 per). Plus he's Canadian, so he'll politely call hecklers "sir" when he misses his free throws (48%). Cavaliers expect: Another Anderson Varejao. Statbuster expects: Tyrus Thomas.

Jonas Valanciunas: A Lithuanian center that Toronto may stash away in Europe for another year. Decent inside game and plays physical, but he will be eaten alive unless he puts on some muscle. Hopefully he'll also spend the next year working on his interview skills. Raptors expect: Poor man's Chris Bosh. Statbuster expects: Zan Tabak.

Jan Vesely: Vesely breaks the mold from most Euros in that he has NBA-level athleticism and thrives in an open-court game. But of course, the ESPN guys were too busy marveling at Vesely's re-enactment of V-Day than anything basketball-related. Wizards expect: Andrei Kirilenko. Statbuster expects: Maurice Evans to be mercifully extracted from the Wizard's rotation.

Bismack Biyombo: The scouts has been comparing Biyombo to Ben Wallace, which is a insult to Ben Wallace. Biyombo will play hard, but even against lesser competiton he fouls and turns the ball over at an incredible rate. In the ACB he averaged nearly as many fouls (2/gm) as field goals (2.3/gm) and had a blistering 25% turnover ratio. So maybe, someday, he will be as proficient as scorer as Ben Wallace. Until then, Charlotte will be going 4-on-5 on offense. Or maybe 4-on-6. Bobcats expect: Ben Wallace. Statbuster expects: A shorter DeSagana Diop.

Brandon Knight: Knight is a combo guard that can both shoot and defend, and that alone should be enough to keep him in the league for the next 10 years. Knight could find a way into the rotation right away, especially if Rodney Stuckey is moved this summer, which is entirely possible. Pistons expect: Chauncey Billups. Statbuster expects: Jason Terry.

Kemba Walker: A lightning quick shoot-first PG that will fit nicely in that spot on the bench behind D.J. Augustin. A lack of NBA 3-point range (33% as a senior) and playmaking skills (1.84 pure point rating) will relegate him to backup status early on. Bobcats expect: Rod Strickland. Statbuster expects: Antonio Daniels.

Jimmer Fredette: How can a player lead the nation in scoring, but still be so unproven? At 6'2" he likely won't be able to play more than spot minutes at the 2. So the majority of his minutes will come at PG, where he has been consistently underwhelming as a distributor (3.7 Asts/gm). So he will have to score by the boatload to justify playing time. But he played in the marshmallowy Mountain West Conference, so his scoring was padded by beating up on schools like Texas Christian and Wyoming. Too many questions to draft comfortably. Kings expect: Mark Price. Statbuster expects: Tony Delk.

The Steal Of The Draft: Jordan Hamilton, who was projected by some scouts to go as high as #14, nearly slipped into the 2nd round and landed with Dallas at #26. Minutes will be hard to come by as he'll be behind Shawn Marion, as well as Peja Stojakovic and Caron Butler until their annual mid-season injuries. (Edit: Hamilton was dealt to Denver shortly afterwards. Talented player, but the Nugs are already stockpiled at the 3 with Wilson Chandler and Gallinari. He will compete with Gary Forbes what few minutes are left as a backup 3. That should be awesome.)

How did the mock drafts do?: As in previous years, there's a lot of focus on scouts trying to forecast the draft results. And, as in previous years, the forecasts are about as reliable as asking your dog.

#1 - Kyrie Irving - Got it right? 12/12.
#2 - Derrick Williams - 11/12
#3 - Enes Kanter - 9/12
#4 - Tristan Thompson - 1/12
#5 - Jonas Valanciunas - 0/12
#6 - Jan Vesely - 8/12
#7 - Bismack Biyombo - 1/12
#8 - Brandon Knight - 0/12
#9 - Kemba Walker - 2/12
#10 - Jimmer Fredette - 2/12


Chapter 10
18 and oh no

Bandana is sitting upright in his metal chair.

“You’re a Boston fan!” he says, pointing at me like I’m an animal in a zoo. “That explains it! I knew there was something about you.” He starts shaking his head, looking disillusioned. “I’ll bet you have, like…a Larry Bird shrine in your basement or something.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I scoff.

Cut to my basement, which does, in fact, have a corner dedicated to Larry Bird. It’s across from the Tom Brady exhibit.


“You couldn’t even let me hit my lay-up, could you,” I say. “You just had to block it. It’s my story, and you couldn’t even let me finish.”

Bandana looks at Tooth. “Are Boston fans even allowed in this group?”

Tooth nods, but looks a little disappointed in me. “We don’t discriminate here,” he says, then addresses me in a calm, expectant voice. “Do you at least like Chicago teams?”

“Do I have to?” I say.

“No,” Tooth says. “But it wouldn’t hurt.”

“I… follow them,” I say, “but that’s just because they’re on the local news.”
Bandana shakes his head. “Even his friend is a Boston fan,” he says. “How am I supposed to identify with this story now?

Tooth rubs his chin and thinks. His eyes awaken. “No, this is good,” he says. “This is part of why we’re here – learning acceptance and tolerance. This is not about Doug’s affiliation – this is about his emotions, his journey. His issues are the issues we all have. That’s what we need to focus on.”

Bandana looks skeptical. “I don’t know,” he says. “I pride myself on being intolerant.”

“But you’re here to change that,” Tooth says.

“No, I’m here because my wife forced me to be,” Bandana says. Many of the other men nod with empathy.

“You know what? I like being a Boston fan in Chicago,” I say. “Whenever the Celts, Pats, or Red Sox win, people congratulate me like I’m on the team. It’s awesome. That doesn’t happen in Boston. Sure, everyone’s happy, but here, I get singled out. Here, I’m special.”

Of course, I choose to leave out the down side of living in Chicago – like also being singled out when my teams suffer humiliating losses. On the Monday following Super Bowl XLII, in which the heavily-favored 18-0 Patriots suffered an epic upset loss to the New York Giants, I was met at work with 300 colored pieces of paper in my cubicle that read “18 and oh no.”

Not to mention living in a city where the last Super Bowl win was in 1986, in which the Bears crushed my beloved Patriots, 46-10. Any time the Bears reach the playoffs, I have to endure a slew of parties that center around screenings of Superbowl XX videos and commemorative DVDs. Sometimes I wish the Bears would win a Superbowl just to marginally reduce the likelihood of my having to endure watching William “the Refridgerator” Perry’s circus-act touchdown, or hearing that Godforsaken Superbowl Shuffle.


Welcome to my nightmare...


...and every Chicago Superbowl / playoff / pity party since 1986.

“You didn’t mention the Bruins,” Stache says.

Hockey?” I say, twisting my face like I just ate a bad piece of broccoli. “Who cares about hockey?

Only then do I register that one of the guys in the circle is wearing a Blackhawks jersey. He looks perturbed, but this doesn’t concern me – he’s built more like an accountant than a hockey player.

“Sorry,” I say. “I didn’t mean to imply that hockey’s not a real sport. I mean, hey, at least it’s not soccer.” I scan the circle of men, half expecting to find that one of them is dressed in a Manchester United goalie uniform.
Blackhawk says nothing.

“You know, I was trying to get people in you corner, Doug,” Tooth says. “You’re kinda ruining it.”

“Ok, I’m sorry,” I say. “Would it help everyone if I just say I’m a huge Bulls fan?”

“No,” Tooth says. “We’re all adults here.”

“It would help me,” Bandana says.

Blackhawk suddenly speaks up. The words come out of him hard and fast and high pitched, like air from the leak of an overfilled tire.

“Do you have any idea what it’s like to be a hockey fan?” he says. Everyone rolls their eyes and gives a here-we-go-again look to each other. “Any idea what it’s like to try to talk to your buddies at work about a great comeback win or a prudent trade, and have them look at you like you’re an alien? Sure, there are blogs, but that can only fulfill you so much.” Blackhawk’s face is red, like the pressure is somehow building instead of being released. “My God, the Hawks just won the Stanley Cup and the guys at work still don’t know Kane from Sharp.”

I have no idea what he’s talking about. I suspect I’m giving him that “alien” look.

Tooth is massaging his temples. He looks at me as if I’m in charge of the last Titanic lifeboat. “So Doug, how about you continue your narrative?” he says.

“Ok,” I say.

There is a queen-sized bed in the center of the circle. In it, Shannon is sleeping. I start getting undressed.

“Oh my God, are they gonna do it?” Patch says to Stache.

“What would that accomplish?” I say.

“It would accomplish something for me,” Patch says.

I slide into bed next to Shannon.

“Honey,” I say, nudging her shoulder.


Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate, Chapter 2: Two e-mails, Chapter 3: Pattern, Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee, Chapter 6: Suicide, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers, Chapter 9: June, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no, Chapter 11: DNA, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin

Labels: , , ,

Chapter 9

June,” Bill says.

He looks at me as if this is supposed to mean something. I return a blank stare.

He and I are forehead to sweaty forehead in my backyard basketball court. He starts pacing and dribbling, as he looks to drive.

Bill lowers his voice. “June.”

Now I understand. I shrug it off.

“I won’t miss any of the games,” I say, stepping side to side along with him. “And besides, who’s to say the Celtics will even make the Finals?”

“Really,” Bill scoffs. “They won it all in ’08. The only reason they didn’t make it last year was the injury to KG. Now he’s healthy, and they’ve added Rasheed. How could they not make the Finals? And it’s going to be against Kobe again. You know it is.”

Bill shoots, misses a contested jumper. I rebound.

“Possibly,” I say, clearing the ball. “But I won’t miss anything.”

“Really,” Bill says, “South Dakota…Wyoming…you’ll be lucky to find a picture of a TV set. A few months ago, I went apple picking outside DeKalb. It’s barely an hour West… might as well have been rural China. There was a diner there that closed up shop at Two p.m.”

Bill looks at me. No blinking. “Two p.m.,” he repeats.

I stop dribbling, and Bill straightens from his defensive posture.

“You’re being dramatic,” I say. “There are…cities and stuff.”

“Oh sure, and between those cities are enormous stretches of nothing,” he says. “I’ve taken the Yellowstone trip, my friend. Do you have any idea what kinds of attractions you’ll be stopping for?”

My heart rate is rising. These are the details I have intentionally avoided. I need to be completely ignorant when I step into that minivan. It’s the only way I’ll survive. I start humming, but I can still make out Bill over the drone.

“I can damn near guarantee you there’s a giant rock carving, a building devoted to the wonders of corn, and a sanctuary for dangerously well-endowed horses in your future,” Bill says. “While the Celtics are playing the Lakers in the NBA Finals, you’ll be in a cabin made of cow pies playing travel monopoly by candlelight.”


Giant Rock Carving: Check


Building devoted to Corn: Check


Sanctuary for dangerously well-endowed horses: Check

I’m still humming, and it’s still not working.

“And don’t even get me started about Yellowstone,” Bill says. “You know what qualifies as entertainment at Yellowstone?”

I close my eyes, as if that will help. I know Bill means well in some twisted way, but he might as well be shoving bamboo under my fingernails.

“BUFFALO!” Bill says. “Also known as Bison. I’d explain the difference between buffalo and bison to you, but I don’t want to ruin it…because instead of watching another historic NBA Finals on 42 inches worth of stunning high definition, that’s what you’ll be learning about.”

Bison, or or the other

When I think he’s done, I open my eyes and stare at Bill. He stares back, looking at me like I’ve just told him I have cancer.

“I’ll be fine,” I say, then make my move and drive to the basket. My burst leaves Bill frozen and flat-footed, which is why I’m stunned when my lay-up is swatted and I tumble to the ground.

Above me, a burly bandana-clad man flexes and growls like he’s just blocked LeBron James, and not a Glucosamine-Chondroitin-taking 40-year-old.

“That explains it!” he says, sneering down at me.


Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate, Chapter 2: Two e-mails, Chapter 3: Pattern, Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee, Chapter 6: Suicide, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers, Chapter 9: June, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no

Labels: , , ,


Hey Basketbawful readers. I'm not normally a draft guy, depite having watched both the lottery and drafts annually for many years now. However, due to the projections of this year's draft lottery (and probably the entire thing) being the most historically bad since that 2000 draft poo poo platter, and the rumors swirling that the Suns could be entering Jimmer Time Era, I decided to dabble in some extra research.

And thusly I present the Bawsketbawful Informational Post and Discussion Arena for the 2011 NBA Draft (presented by Kia), followed by my bawful predictions of the lottery assuming all GMs are too ball-less to actually pull off a useful trade. Since you can read any number of mock drafts on the Internet, I've decided to try and include one YouTube video of note on each player (and as such, I will be stealing occasionally from Mike Schmitz at Valley of the Suns). Finally, since the Internet Never Forgets, and declaring the whole ceiling/floor thing is such a crapshoot, I present my Sigma+ and Sigma- player comparisons. Meaning, my one standard deviation prediction for each player in the NBA. Brilliant cop-out, I know, right?

2011 NBA Draft (PRESENTED BY KIA (seriously, buy an Optima (you know you want it)))

When and Where:
7pm EST, ESPN and ESPN3, Newark, N.J., not NBATV.

Green Room:
Chad Ford announced the 15 "green room" invitees, which includes a pity invite to tag-along twin Markief Morris.

Biased Draft Lottery Predictions:

1 Cleveland Cavaliers (from Los Angeles Clippers)
will select
Derrick Williams, SF/PF
20 years old; 6-9, 250
Arizona, sophomore
Why: To put it simply, for the lulz. Not only does this set them up with more flexibility in the 4th pick, but it puts Minnesota on the spot for hilarity. Also, he atleast doesn't have the injury question like Irving does. While Cleveland could use and upgrade at everything, I hold the minority opinion that they actually should take Williams here, and that their consideration wasn't just rumors to dick around with Minnesota's trade partners. Of course this pick has a trickle-down effect on my entire lottery section, so I'm betting big on this.
YouTube highlight: Derrick Williams on Sport Science, apparently trying really hard to show his intent to play SF
Sigma+: David West with a 3 ball
Sigma-: Michael Beasley

2 Minnesota Timberwolves
will select
Kyrie Irving, PG
19 years old; 6-3, 190
Duke, freshman
Why: Because Dan Gilbert needs to be an asshole. And hey, has anyone ever made a joke about Minnesota drafting PGs? On the downside, it may be difficult to play baritone in the cold northern weather.
YouTube highlight: Any assortment of Dukies putting together highlight videos from his 8 freaking college games.
Sigma+: Chris Paul
Sigma-: Shawn Livingston (complete with freak injury to ruin his career)

3 Utah Jazz (from New Jersey Nets)
will select
Brandon Knight, PG/SG
19 years old; 6-3, 180
Kentucky, freshman
Why: Because even Utah's not dumb enough to take Jimmer this high. And I don't think Enes Kanter is white enough.
YouTube highlight: Brandon Knight seemingly leading the forces of Rohan against Mordor
Sigma+: Gilbert Arenas
Sigma-: Ramon Sessions

4 Cleveland Cavaliers
will select
Kemba Walker, PG
21 years old; 6-3, 185
Connecticut, junior
Why: Because as great as former All-Stars Baron Davis and Mo Williams are, I think Cleveland has to walk away from this draft with a PG upgrade. Also, compared to New York, he will absolutely hate Cleveland.
YouTube highlight: Eh, Brooklyn, Bronx, same stuff whatever.
Sigma+: John Wall (including kinda looking like him)
Sigma-: Ben Gordon (post-Detroit signing)

5 Toronto Raptors
will select
Enes Kanter, C
19 years old; 6-11, 260
Kentucky (but not actually); Turkey
Why: If you're not rooting for the Bargs/Kanter match made in heaven, you're not a Basketbawful fan.
YouTube highlight: Nike Hoop Summit highlights from goddamn 14 months ago, his last actual game.
Sigma+: Joakim Noah
Sigma-: Greg Ostertag

6 Washington Wizards
will select
Jan Vesely, SF
21 years old; 6-11, 240
KK Partizan Belgrade (Serbia); Czech Republic
Why: Because that's just what the Wizards need: another high athleticism big man who has questionable basketball IQ and can't actually make shots other than dunks.
YouTube highlight: Who else can pull of a mixtape that opens with the Power Rangers song?
Sigma+: Czech Shawn Marion
Sigma-: Shannon Brown (actually, including questionable pull-up 3's, this is more like a Sigma neutral prediction)

7 Sacramento Kings
will select
Kawhi Leonard, SF
19 years old; 6-7, 225
San Diego State, Sophomore
Why: Supposedly it's down to Kemba or Kawhi here, unless they pull the shocker and draft Jimmer to play alongside Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins. I find this the more hilarious situation than Utah drafting him, but alas, he will make a fine backup to Omri Casspi.
YouTube highlight: I'll let his words speak for himself from this DraftExpress interview. Side note: this might be the most saturated lottery of players ever who have no idea what position they can play.
Sigma+: Gerald Wallace
Sigma-: Antoine Wright

8 Detroit Pistons
will select
Jonas Valanciunas, C
19 years old; 6-11, 240
Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuania)
Why: Looks like he can't get bought out, so he'll be able to play next year at best. Still wondering why this is the crappiest draft in years? Of course there's a high chance Toronto will be drafting him for another dream combo with Bargs.
YouTube highlight: "All i see is a lot of wide open dunks and dunks over guys a foot shorter than him". Good work, random YouTube commenter.
Sigma+: Angry Darko
Sigma-: Skinny Darko (seriously though, HoopsHype has his comparison as Nenad Kristic. Yea.)

9 Charlotte Bobcats
will select
Klay Thompson SG/SF
21 years old; 6-7, 205
Washington State, junior
Why:So we're definitely deep in crap-shoot territory now. Something tells me MJ's UNC roots will inexplicably not allow himself to draft a Jayhawk, so
YouTube highlight: Schmitz at VotS provides the overview. He seems well spoken enough.
Sigma+: Rashard Lewis (pre-albatross contract)
Sigma-: Larry Hughes

10 Milwaukee Bucks
will select
Marcus Morris PF(75%)/SF(25%)
21 years old; 6-9, 230
Kansas, Junior
Why: Uh, have you seen the contracts the Bucks are now lugging around? If you had to start somewhere, I'd start with replacing Drew Gooden with "a bit of a tweener", whatever the hell that's supposed to mean.
YouTube highlight: Schmitz again at VotS. I really like the song used, therefore, I hope he does well in the NBA.
Sigma+: Rudy Gay
Sigma-: Josh Childress

11 Golden State Warriors
will select
Bismack Biyombo, PF/C
18 years old; 6-9, 240
Baloncesto Fuenlabrada (Spain); Congo
Why:As much as I wanted to put Klay Thompson here, wondering if Golden State games will be played with 2 balls, I couldn't resist the Warriors Center Dice Roll 2.0. Besides, with Monta, Curry, Dorrell, and David, who needs a center that can score?
YouTube highlight: Schmitz did and excellent job mixing this together, including now infamous clips of his Europe workout session in the "weaknesses" section at the end.
Sigma+: Dikembe Mutumbo
Sigma-: Ekpe Udoh

12 Utah Jazz
will select
Jimmer Fredette, PG/SG/32-ft-shot-specialist
22 years old; 6-2, 195
BYU, Senior
Why: Come on. I mean, seriously, come on.
YouTube highlight: No mormon sex tape could be found, however Schmitz again with additional info on the Suns's interest.
Sigma+: J.J. Redick (or other combo guard with no defense)
Sigma-: Gordon Hayward (minus StarCraft II livestreams)

13 Phoenix Suns
will select
Tristan Thompson, PF
20 years old; 6-9, 230
Texas, freshman
Why: If the Suns honestly draft one more SF...
YouTube highlight: As Schmitz puts it, "the Suns' dream scenaro".
Sigma+: Josh Smith
Sigma-: Hakim Warrick

14 Houston Rockets
will select
Chris Singleton, SF/PF
21 years old; 6-9, 230
Florida State, Junior
Why: Who the heck knows at this point. While I personally think they should get Marshon Brooks or Jordan Hamilton to backup/replace Kevin Martin's inevitable injury, the Rockets seem weakest at SF, and I don't think there's even an upside C anywhere close at this spot.
YouTube highlight: Unintentionally hilarious interview with the Golden State Warriors, but I'm pretty sure he does not have enough Grown Man Moves to satisfy their new head coach.
Sigma+: 38 year old Grant Hill
Sigma-: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

- AnacondaHL

Labels: , ,

Chapter 7
Coaching high school

Dear Mr. Blatch,

I’m sorry about what happened at the Washington Bulls game yesterday. I was in the stands and was, of course, disturbed and saddened. I blame myself for putting you in a position like that. Had I been more professional, you wouldn’t have needed to take on Mr. Holbrook as my replacement.

I suppose with his age and his smoking habit (I saw him chain-smoking outside before the game), what happened was inevitable. I am also saddened that the kids had to experience such a scary event.

I talked to my son about the situation, and I think he’s going to be ok. I told him that Mr. Holbrook went to a better place, to which he replied “He’s coaching high school now?” It was actually pretty funny, but I know this is not a laughing matter.

My son asked if I could go back to coaching the team again, but I had no answer for him. I just wanted to let you know that if you have trouble finding someone to replace Mr. Holbrook, I am available, and promise you that I would behave in a manner befitting the league and its code of conduct.

Doug McAllister

Chapter 8
Shark attacks and appetizers

“Dead?” Patch says.

“Yup,” I say. “Our team hit a last second shot and he just collapsed to the floor.”

Bandana leans over to Tooth. “Listen to him,” Bandana says. “Our team.”

“What’s wrong with that?” I say. “My son’s on the team.”

Stache shakes his head. “Nah, it’s more than that,” he says. “When I got fired from my kid’s baseball team, I still felt like the team was mine. I would adjust my lineup and devise strategies even after I lost the job.”

I look at Stache like he’s insane, then flick my thumb at him to the others. I don’t have the nerve to admit I was doing the same thing.

“Ok, hypothetical,” Tooth says. “You’re playing your favorite sport. It’s the championship game, you score the winning run, point, goal, whatever. It’s the greatest victory of your life. – your team mauls you, and as you’re celebrating, you have a heart attack and die.” Tooth scans the group. “The question is, is that how you’d want to go?”

“What are the choices?” Patch says.

“What do you mean?” Tooth says.

“Well, if it’s between that and dying during sex, I’ll take sex,” Patch says. “If it’s between that and dying from a shark attack...”

“I’m not giving a choice,” Tooth says. “You have the chance to die at the moment of your greatest victory, or keep living, likely to never acquire the same feeling ever again.”

“So you’re assuming we wouldn’t be able to repeat as champions,” Stache says.

“I didn’t say that,” Tooth says. “I just want to know who thinks winning would justify-”

“Oh wait, so ‘justify’ implies that if you win, you die,” I say. “So it’s a lose-and-live, win-and-die scenario.”

“Well, I wasn’t saying that,” Tooth says. “But ok. If you win, you die.”

“I’ll take that,” Bandana says, his wrinkly eyes scanning the group. “Champioinship game? Yeah, I’ll win it and die.”

“Do we get to have sex right after we win, then die?” Patch says.

“No,” Tooth says. “You die right out there while you’re celebrating.”

“Do I feel it coming?” Patch says. “Do I realize it’s happening, or is it instantaneous?”

“Instant death,” Tooth says.

“Well, you’d feel a heart attack coming on,” Patch says. “So we’re really talking about, like, a brain embolism then.”

Tooth nods. He looks to be losing his interest. “Sure,” he says. “Brain embolism.”

“What about drinks?” Patch says.

Tooth stares, needing more.

“After a big win, part of the winning is going out with your teammates to a bar, having drinks and celebrating your awesomeness,” Patch says. “Can I do that and then die?”

“You know what? Sure,” Tooth says. “You can have a few drinks first.”

“How many?” Patch says.

Tooth looks weary. So he’s playing along, not fighting it. “Three, he says.”

“I don’t even get a buzz ‘til I reach five,” Patch says.

“Fine, five,” Tooth says.

“Do I get any apps?”


“Appetizers…hot wings, potato skins, and such.”

Tooth waves him off, and looks around the group. “See?” he says. “Endless negotiating with the grim reaper.” Then to Patch. “So your life is worth some hot wings?”

“Not just hot wings,” Patch says.

Tooth rubs his forehead, exhausted with the exercise.

“You know, I haven’t even gotten to the real reason I’m here,” I say.

Tooth waves me on. “Please,” he says. “Anything to move on to a new subject.”

I begin. “Well, some time around my not getting the coaching job back, my wife informs me that she’s planning a family driving trip to Yellowstone for the following June.”

I look at them as if this is supposed to mean something. I am met with blank stares.

June,” I repeat.


Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate, Chapter 2: Two e-mails, Chapter 3: Pattern, Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee, Chapter 6: Suicide, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers, Chapter 9: June

Labels: , , ,

Bandana looks at Tooth. “Why is he even telling us this?” Then to me. “Are you just here for some free all-around therapy or something? What does being a hypochondriac have to do with being competitive?”

I stare at the faces around me. They seem united behind Bandana’s dubiousness, or at least as united as a group of detached, silent men can seem. I am not daunted.

“First of all, I would think you guys have been here long enough to have figured out that everything you do is related, in some way, to your competitive fire,” I say.

“Even your interruption, for example, feels to me like a questioning of my manhood, which in and of itself is a form of competitiveness. Second of all, my being a hypochondriac is a function of my wanting to be healthy, which is a function of my wanting to be healthier – better – than everyone else.”

Bandana waves a dismissive hand at me. “Bah, you’re just afraid of death.”

I point an ah-ha! finger in the air, “Right! And death is the great equalizer,” I say, scanning the group with disdain. “I don’t want to be equal to any of you.”

“The feeling is mutual,” Bandana says.

“Just as I would expect it to be,” I say.

Tooth extends his open hands. “This is all very interesting,” he says. “But I think we’re getting a little too high-concept.”

Stache chimes in. “How would you know?” he says. “You’re not a licensed therapist. You’re just like the rest of us.”

For a moment, Tooth wears that concerned expression ship captains in the movies make when they realize their crew is on the verge of mutiny. It doesn’t last long. His gaze aims at me.

“How tall is that doctor of yours?” he says.

I cross my arms over my chest. Everyone in the group is looking at each other, trying to figure out if anyone else knows what’s going on.

“Come on, how tall?” Tooth repeats.

“Why would I know how tall my doctor is?” I say.

“Humor me,” Tooth says. “Take a guess.”

“Six-five,” I say.

Tooth nods slowly. “So…did he agree?” Tooth says.

I keep it stone-faced. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say.

“Of course you do,” Tooth says. “My plumber is six-six. A few years ago, I stuffed a T-shirt into my toilet to get him to come over so I could ask him to anchor my volleyball team.”

I stuff my hands into my pockets. I figure the fabric will absorb the sweat.

“So…?” Tooth says. “Did he agree?”

The room is so silent, the silence almost has a sound to it. All eyes are on me, waiting. My forehead is burning like when I eat the spicy chicken for lunch at work.

The judgmental faces are too much. I break.

“I don’t have any tall friends! Going into a three-on-three basketball tournament with a bunch of shrimps is suicide! I already saw what a disaster it was with my kid’s team!”

The bodies around me unclench. The men look with collective admiration at Tooth. The captain has regained the confidence of his crew.

Tooth looks at the instigator of the uprising, Stache. “Sometimes, it’s not complicated,” he says, then looks to me. “Suicide,” he says. “Life and death. That’s how you just defined winning and losing.”

I fold my hands and look down at the floor.

Because that’s what guys do when they’ve been deconstructed.


Links: Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket
Chapter 1: Cribbagegate
Chapter 2: Two e-mails
Chapter 3: Pattern
Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee
Chapter 6: Suicide
Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers

Labels: , ,


Headlining at Zanies this Thursday: My Urine.
Please tip your server, and try the veal.

Chapter 5
Hilarious Pee

Dr. Mullen looks mystified.

“So…why are you here again?”

“Well, people at my office have been sneezing and nose-blowing and whooping-cough coughing for weeks now, and I’ve been fine,” I say.

“And you’re worried you’re about to get sick?” he says.

“No, I’m wondering if there’s something wrong with my immune system,” I say.

“But you’re not sick,” he says.

“Exactly,” I say. “I should be, don’t you think?”

Dr. Mullen gives me an are-you-serious look.

“So you’re here…in my office…because you’re not sick,” he says.

“Correct,” I say.

Dr. Mullen eyes me, dumbstruck. Then he looks at my shirt. “Do you have a hidden camera on you or something?” he says. “Am I on Candid Camera?”

“Nope,” I say.

Dr. Mullen stares a little longer, then opens a manila folder “Well, Douglas, I’d say this visit takes the cake for hypochondria,” he scans the folder contents. “Two months ago, you were in here because…”

“My pee smelled funny,” I say.

“Right,” Dr. Mullen recalls. “And I asked you ‘How funny?’ and you said ‘Hilarious.’”

“I know I joked with you, but I could have had an infection,” I say.

“Yes, you could have…but you didn’t. You just have smelly pee,” Dr. Mullen says, returning to the folder. “Two months before that, you were here because you would wake up with tingling in your arm. We determined that to be…”

“My arm was asleep,” I say.

“Right,” Dr. Mullen says, slapping the folder closed. “But I must say, this visit puts the others to shame. Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy to take money from you and your insurance company, but really, don’t you have better things to do than come and visit me?”

At that moment, a guy opens the office door. I think I recognize him.

“I have to agree with the doctor on this one,” he says.

Dr. Mullen looks at me.

“New support group?” he says.


Links: Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket
Chapter 1: Cribbagegate
Chapter 2: Two e-mails
Chapter 3: Pattern
Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee
Chapter 6: Suicide
Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers


Bonus this-chapter-was too-short discussion material (even though I owe you nothing - and on a Sunday no less):

A couple of weeks ago, a story came out that a man has been 'functionally cured' of HIV. I wanted to do a post at the time declaring something to the effect of "Newsflash: Magic Johnson doesn't exist," essentially discussing that a man has already been "functionally cured" of HIV, and his name is Magic Johnson. However, my poking around the Web turned up nothing to indicate Magic is cured of anything, so I dropped the notion, not wanting to write about such a significant subject without firm knowledge. I know what you'd reply: "But ET, [insert hated columnist name here] does that every day!" It would be funny, but would not justify my trying to sift through an HIV piece with a blindfold ... and still, I feel there are some significant items from my personal experience with this subject that still make Magic's situation that much more mysterious to me today:

- I remember in college, when the announcement was made, having to avoid talking about Magic in the past tense, like he was already dead. We know now that a person can live decades with HIV, and medicine has advanced greatly, but if anyone at the time had said to me "Guess what? Magic will be commentating with JB and Wilbon in the 2011 NBA Finals and nobody is going to ask him 'Hey Magic, how are you even here?'", I'd have called you insane. Think back to where you were, what you thought, at that time about Magic and his plight, and think about today. Is it...a miracle? Is it...a simple discrepancy between the medical treatment the rich and famous get and that which "normal" people receive? Is it...Area 51 - Fake moon landing - JFK cover up conspiracy? Is it the best medical treatment, and...a good diet, exercise, and attitude, as ESPN indicated 10 years after Magic's HIV announcement?

- I recall, but couldn't find, an interview where Magic said there was "no sign of the HIV virus" in his body. This interview made me readjust everything I thought about Magic's situation - was he no longer sick? how ignorant am I / we about HIV? And more recently, thinking "why is Timothy Ray Brown considered the first man to be 'functionally cured' of HIV, when Magic roams amongst us with a giant, healthy smile?"

To me, the biggest mystery is not that Magic is still alive and well, but our curious evolving reaction, or non-reaction, to that fact...where we have reached a point that Magic is not even mentioned in an article that discusses a person who has been functionally cured of HIV, or that Magic is not asked "How you feeling?" by anyone unless they think he's got a cold.

I hope Magic lives a long, healthy life, but I am still mystified by the enormous discrepancy between where he was 20 years ago, and where he is today.


Labels: , ,


Chapter 4

Almost everyone is doing a little nod, like they’ve all been there.

“The Wii controllers shatter the best...Cheaper plastic,” says a burly guy with a sleeveless T and a bandana sitting next to Tooth. His name is now Bandana.

“I tried to keep it together,” I say. “I really did. My whole purpose was to just enjoy myself, to not care…and I couldn’t do it.”

Tooth opens his arms. “And thus you are here.”

I shrug and shake my head. “Not because of that,” I say.

“So…making children assault each other on a basketball court and throwing video game controllers is just the beginning,” Tooth says.

“I told you it was a long story,” I say.

Tooth adjusts in his chair for a longer haul.

“Ok,” he says. “Continue.”


Links: Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket
Chapter 1: Cribbagegate
Chapter 2: Two e-mails
Chapter 3: Pattern
Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee
Chapter 6: Suicide
Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers

Labels: , ,

Next year from Nintendo: Wii Fight

Chapter 3

I’m scanning the faces at our kitchen dinner table. All of them, except for the oblivious six-year-old, are fused in disappointment.

“How was I supposed to know Edwin would clothesline the kid?” I say.

“Two weeks,” Shannon says, disappointment oozing from her words. “It took you two weeks… and that was with only one practice and one game a week. So really, it was more like four days.”

Edwin, the nine-year-old whose team I’m now forbidden from coaching, asks to be excused. He hasn’t touched his chicken fingers, even though he loves chicken fingers. Shannon excuses him. I want to apologize, but I can’t get the words out. The six-year-old, Fiona, also asks to be excused, but in a more excited voice. She’s not expressing any particular judgment – she’s just following Edwin’s lead like it’s a game. Still, it somehow feels like she, too, is rejecting me.

Now it’s me, Shannon and our twelve-year-old, Devlin. They’re still glaring with disapproval.

“You were both in the stands,” I say. “You saw how they were manhandling us.”

“They were just taller,” Shannon says. “They weren’t playing dirty.”

“Maybe not, but that team was rigged,” I say. “They were gigantic. The only thing my team could ever do is…form a Lollipop Guild.”

“You shoulda called timeout in the second quarter to settle them down,” Devlin says. “The other team scored 10 straight points, and you didn’t do a thing.”

“I wanted our guys to play through it,” I say.

“They’re 9 and 10,” Devlin says, as if being 12 makes him some sort of child psychologist. “They can’t play through it.”

Come to think of it, several members of my pint-sized team did return to the bench at half-time crying.

“I thought they’d be a little more resilient,” I say.

Devlin shakes his head in shame. “What a massacre,” he says, “and then to order a hard foul like that.”

I look to Shannon.

“Is he allowed to talk to me like this?” I say.

Shannon absently runs her fork through a tiny pile of green beans.

“You know what the most upsetting thing is?” she says. “Your attitude going in was so good, so positive. Your introduction e-mail to all the parents was great…I spoke to several of them and they were thrilled with your learn-first, win-second approach. But the approach was a little surprising to me, frankly, because it was so not you.”

“What do you mean, not me?” I say.

“Oh stop it, Doug,” Shannon says. “If you’d just not tried to fool yourself about your nature from the beginning, maybe it wouldn’t have snuck up on you, bitten you in the behind, and gotten you kicked out of a children’s basketball league.”
I deadpan to Devlin. “Is she allowed to talk to me like that?” I say.

“It’s like When Harry Met Sally,” Shannon says.

“Good movie,” Devlin says, nodding.

Now I’m back to Shannon. “Is he allowed to watch that?” I say.

“When Billy Crystal says the worst kind of woman is high maintenance but thinks she’s low maintenance,” Shannon says. “The worst kind of man is competitive but thinks he’s not.”

“Seriously,” I say to Shannon. “There’s a lot of sex talk in that movie. Are you ok with him seeing that? And what about the-” I shield my mouth from Devlin and lip the words fake orgasm scene.

Devlin rolls his eyes. “May I be excused?” he says.

“Yes,” Shannon says, not taking her eyes off me.

As Devlin saunters off, I slump in my chair, trying to figure out where it all went wrong.

“Do I…have a problem?” I say.

“Well, you’re the only person I’ve ever known to snap a putter in half over his knee at a miniature-golf course,” Shannon says.

“Am I ever going to live that down?” I say. “That was 10 years ago. And besides, the speed of that windmill was screwed up. There was no way to putt through it.”

“Of course there wasn’t,” Shannon says. Then she starts glaring at me in a way that is far more serious than before.

“What,” I say.

Shannon motions me into the living room, where Edwin and Fiona are playing Mario Kart on the Wii, with Devlin watching.

Fiona crashes.

“Stupid controller,” she says.

Edwin crashes.

“My car stinks,” he says.

Fiona crashes.


Edwin Crashes. Devlin says, “This game is defective.”

And on it goes.

Shannon whispers into my ear as I watch the kids.

Stupid controller…my car stinks…this game is defective…that team was rigged…that windmill was screwed up…See a pattern?

It all becomes so clear in that moment.

So very clear.

“Oh my God,” I say. “I’m raising a bunch of losers.”

“Uhm… that’s not what I was getting at,” Shannon says. “What you’re raising are children who blame everything but themselves when they encounter hardship. That’s not a recipe for success.”

“So what, this is all my fault?” I say.

“See?” Shannon says. “Can’t assume any responsibility, can you.”

“I assume responsibility. I mean, I am their father,” I say under my breath. “I’m just saying it’s not my fault.”

“Are you… proofreading anything that’s coming out of your mouth?” Shannon says.

My brain gets all hazy. The idea that I might be responsible for my kids’ shortcomings does not register.

“I don’t even…spend enough time with them to be a bad influence, do I?” I say.

“Unfortunately, setting a bad example doesn’t take much time,” Shannon says.

I step toward them. Shannon grabs my arm.

“What are you doing?” she says.

“I’m setting a good example,” I say. “Starting now.”

“No, don’t,” she says. “You’re not ready.”

“It’s not like being a Jedi,” I say. “I just need to be encouraging, pleasant, and tolerant of…incompetence and failure.”

“And what exactly is it about your current body of work that makes you think you can do that?” she says.

I look at Shannon, and speak my next words oblivious to the paradox.

“Good intentions,” I say.

Shannon lets go of my arm, but looks worried.

Five minutes later, I understand why.


Links: Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket
Chapter 1: Cribbagegate
Chapter 2: Two e-mails
Chapter 3: Pattern
Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee
Chapter 6: Suicide
Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers

Labels: , ,