At the end of this entry (that you're reading now) I have included a link that will return you to the exact place from where this entry originated. Here ya go ...
He was not an asshole, but he had an older brother (Richie) who toughened him up.
» Lance & Egan & the Fabulously Ferocious Fastballs
Remind me to tell you my Egan story, about how I threw him the fattest fast-ball you've ever seen during the last game we ever played in Little League.
I pitched for 3 years during Little League and nobody ever hit a home run off me. Ever. But this was the last game of the year, of our Little League careers, and nothing would change no matter who won.
Egan batted second in their line-up. Lance batted third. I had struck out Egan before.
Lance was one home run away from being the home run king that year. Because he was tied with Wojo, who was twice his size.
And before the game he was working me to throw him a fatty so that he could claim the title of Home Run King solo that year (giving him 6 to Wojo's 5), his last year of Little League. (Or maybe this would let Lance tie Wojo .. I forget the exact details.)
We were standing about halfway between pitcher's mound and home plate. I was facing the 3rd base dugout and they were facing the 1st base dugout.
To which I agreed, when he said, "Come on, I'll give you 50 cents."
Egan was standing there with Lance and wanted in on the same deal.
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••• today's entry continues here below •••
"I'll give you 50 cents, too," he said.
Tho it wasnt really about the money. Lance had a hint of pleading in his voice and I am not gonna make Lance beg.
"Fuck, okay, I throw ya the fatty."
The best pitch to hit a home run with is a good, hard fastball thrown about belly-button high. I had good control after pitching for 3 years.
When they hit those two back-to-back home runs off me, the coach got mad and yanked me off the mound. Which had never happened before. He was clearly none too happy.
I am thinking, "Dude, lighten the fuck up. It's the last game of the season, so the results are meaningless. Besides you suck as a coach. And I wasnt gonna say anything about your drinking, but if you insist on being an asshole..."
Beautiful pitches, I must say. Good hard fastballs. I just let 'em fly .. with a little extra zing .. so that nobody would accuse me of throwing it to them underhand.
If I am going to let them hit a home run off of me, then they are going to have to be able to hit heat. And I knew that both these guys could hit heat. (They could hit anything.)
I just let my pitches float up a little in the strike zone .. to float up from the knees where I normally put the ball .. to that dangerous area belly-button high.
The strike zone goes all the way up to the chest, so you can send pitches there, which I have done to mix it up.
Chest high pitches are not really dangerous, especially if you work the inside and outside edges.
Or even let the ball float up to shoulder high. Those pitches are hard to hit.
But I was throwing my home run pitches right down the middle. To two good batters.
[ Lance played 3rd and Egan played short. Neither of them pitched. And they were both excellent fielders. Few balls got by them. ]
Both home runs made nice cracking sounds. Beautiful sounding sticks.
I tried not to smile, but couldnt help it.
Right down the middle. Belly button high. With good heat. And I took off the twist .. so the pitches would come in nice-n-straight. All they had to do was stick the bat out there. Crack-o. Adios fastball.
» Lance Gives Egan Major Shit About Striking Out
When I would strike out Egan .. and yes, he was a good batter .. Lance, who batted after him in their line-up would always give him major shit ..
.. as they passed each other .. Egan on his way back to the dugout to sit the fuck down.
You couldnt really hear what they were saying .. but you know Lance was giving him a hard time about whiffing.
Because that is what he would be saying to you .. "Egan! What the fuck was that? I cant believe you let this rag-arm chump strike you out. Are you feeling okay today? Next time up you are hitting a double to make up for it."
» Lance Very Difficult to Strike Out
But Lance was very hard to strike out. Even on my best days .. I would sometimes get him down 2 strikes with some nice curves and some low edge-work.
He always took the first pitch, so we usually started 0-1 and went from there.
But actually striking out Lance was was rare. He was probably the best batter in the whole league (4 teams) .. and Egan was not far behind.
A few times I had him down 0-2, and now you have a few pitches to play with to try to get him to chase something outside the strike zone. And I would think, "Your ass is mine now, bitch."
But more often than not, he would somehow extricate himself. But even if he grounds out, that is not the same as striking him out. (Not hardly.)
I remember one time he tipped off 3 or 4 pitches in a row, protecting an 0-2 count before cracking a single up the middle. That hurt.
» Extreme Prejudice & Ferocious Abandon
I mean, I am sending these pitches to the four corners of the strike zone .. just outside .. because I know he has to swing at them. He has to "protect the plate" .. with an 0-2 count. The batter is desperate.
And I am letting out all the yarn. I am letting these pitches sail with extreme prejudice. Because I want this strike-out so badly.
And because it is so fucking close that I can taste it. Just one strike away .. and we already have two in the bank.
My fingers are twitching .. so badly do they want this strike out. They are totally blissed out, throwing every pitch .. with as much mojo as they can convey. They are only too eager to put on the special sauce to each vicious pitch.
And he is just-barely nicking these things and inside I am saying, "Oh, so close!"
So close to missing and so close to striking out and sitting down .. next to Egan. That would be an experience few souls know.
And because striking out Lance is like catching a marlin .. a cause for celebration after a long, hard fight.
And because I have four free pitches to play with. And he has none. All he has is that stick.
And I am throwing these most vicious of curves. That are breaking just outside the strike zone. So I know he has to swing at them.
Cuz I am keeping them close enough to the strike zone that, even if they ARE balls, the ump might call them as strikes.
And yes, it was rare to strike out Lance. But you will never see him walking back to the dugout after taking a strike. That simply would never happen.
If you strike him out, it is because he swung and missed. (But he still swung.)
Give Him Nothing » Take from Him Everything
And I learned from experience .. that he will not swing at the balls that are waay outside the strike zone. No. He was cool like that. Cool and confident with his back against the wall.
The pitches that were clearly balls, he would let the ump call them as balls.
But anywhere close to the plate and he is swinging. And he will gladly take a walk after an 0-2 count .. if you let him. (Trust me on that. I played against these guys 3 years, 3 seasons. You see a lot of stuff during 3 years on the mound.)
So I know he is going to be swinging at every pitch. And he keeps nicking them. Just barely. But even the slightest nick counts. Keeps him alive.
And Egan is shouting encouragement to him from the dugout.
And I know what he is thinking .. because he grew up across the street. He is hoping to God that I slip up and let one one my pitches wander over into the strike zone where he can get a clean swipe at it.
And I am throwing these curves with such vicious torque that the earth shifts on its axis when I let them loose. NASA calls to say that satellites are falling out of the sky and they ask me to take a little off my curves.
I had a good curve. I struck out a lot of dudes with that curve. And I would adjust it with the amount of heat I let it fly with.
Even during the year before, lots of boys was sitting down after whiffing one of those curves. But Lance knew how to hit curves. He was one of the few. Especially my fast curve. He had more trouble with my slow curve (harder spin).
Then my arm started getting a little tired because I was throwing these things with such ferocious abandon.
You had to admit that Lance was a scrappy fucker. No matter what sport he played.
And Egan was a scrappy fighter. Anybody who fucked with Egan obviously did not know him.
» Tangling With Egan
I have seen bigger, stronger, older dudes walk away badly bloodied from tangling with Egan .. probably wishing they hadnt.
Cuz Egan didnt have a scratch on him. Clearly they had had enough .. of Egan's fists in their face.
» The Crazy Glint in Egan's Eye
He would get this glint in his eye .. this crazy glint. Which was usually a source of entertainment and fun.
But I could see how Egan's glint could become unhinged. Which would take me far too long to describe.
I mean, I was not intimidated by anybody .. but I would never start anything with Egan. Clearly that was a no-win proposition.
I was not stupid, no. I would not fight a dude waay bigger than me .. way bigger than Egan.
"Dude, you must have me confused with someone much bigger. I know a few dudes your size. I will go get them and be right back. Wait here. Dont move. I'll only be gone a few minutes."
But if they were anywhere near my size .. I just was not intimidated.
((( Because uh, I had already been to places far worse than anybody anywhere near my size could take me.
And I knew how to operate in those places. Better than most dudes. Waay better.
So much better, in fact, that it was often fun to go there .. in bloodied-knuckle sort of way. I know you feel me, dawg.
On the inside, right now, I am doing that cool hang-in-the-air 360-degree pan-around thing that Trinity does in the first Matrix ..
.. right before she kicks that dude across the room. )))
» Not Intimidated
[[ My grandfather had a punching bag in his cellar. Hanging from a chain that wrapped around one of the big support beams that ran along the ceiling.
Over the years, I would hit that thing. A lot. Friends would come along and hit it with me.
(Gramps also had a regulation pool table and a ping-pong table and darts and even a shower down there .. along with a pot-belly wood-burning stove for the cold Connecticut winters. Fridge. Race car tracks. Lots of cool guy stuff. BB guns. 22 rifles. I could go on and on.)
So .. over the years, I naturally learned how to throw a » fast, hard, accurate punch. And my arms are kinda long. You know.
(Hence: not intimidated. I wasnt trying not to be intimidated .. I just wasnt.)
Gramps had both a heavy bag AND a speed bag down there .. which I can make do that cool da-da-da thing with the speed bag .. when you hit its timing just right .. with fast hands.
» Strong for Your Size
And I was strong for my size, too. I remember when my son was born .. I was there, in the delivery room (in Laguna Beach).
And not long after delivery .. less than an hour .. he takes the biggest krap you've ever seen. Like half his body weight. I exaggerate, but not as much as you might think.
And I am kinda freaking out .. about everything .. (the birth of your first child is somewhat overwhelming) .. including the size of that krap.
But the nurse says that is normal and wipes his butt.
And when she grabs his legs to wipe .. he jerked her arms around and her eyes got real big and she turned to me and said, "Wow, he's strooong!"
I mean, this is what she does .. so she would know. She has helped deliver many babies .. to compare him with. [ He is not even an hour old .. and already he is impressing the pretty girls. ]
And I smiled and thought, "Yeah, he gets that from me." (But his mom is very athletic, too.)
And it wasnt long after that when I did the exact same thing myself .. I grabbed his legs to wipe his butt and I said to him, "Wow, you *are* strong."
But speaking of the birth .. I was kinda surprised at my reaction. I recall the doctor turning to me and she asked, "Would you like to cut the umbilical?"
» Working On Maintaining Consciousness
I said, "Uh, I'm a little overwhelmed right now."
But what I really meant was » "I am just working on maintaining consciousness right now, and I dont know anything about cutting any umbilical."
[ The military does not let you touch jack-shit until you prove to them that you know everything about everything. And here in the hospital they are letting me do something that I know absolutely nothing about. ]
Talk about an altered state.
A few times that day the doctor said to me, "I'm gonna do such-n-such a thing, okay?"
And I am thinking, "You are the doctor .. do whatever you think is best."
Anyway, he was born the night of the day before my birthday .. on the biggest storm of the year. (Exactly like my mom told me that I was.) On a day when umbrellas were useless, because the rain was blowing sideways.
In a room with an ocean view. From way, high up.
(I actually took him back there once, when he was small .. to introduce the nurses to him and show him the room in which he was born.
He did not seem very impressed. Ice cream generally generated far more interest.)
The palms trees that lined PCH were bending mightily. I saw at least three umbrellas pop down in the hospital parking lot below during the course of the day. They were unable to open them against the wind, so they turned around.
"I coulda told you that was a bad idea, lady," I said. Even tho she obviously couldnt hear me.
» So Close to Being Born On My Birthday
And I bet that, if the nurse didnt shoot her with the petosin (because the doctor doesnt want to come back at 3AM) .. I bet that he would have been born ON my birthday. (Happy birthday to me.)
I stayed with him when they brought him into the little side room when they clean him up under the heat lamp and give him the vitamin-K shot.
I could see it coming. When your legs are so tiny .. that thing looks like a freaking harpoon.
So I wrapped his tiny, little hand around my pinky finger and started talking calmly to him, saying things like,
"Okay little guy. The nurse is gonna give you a vitamin shot. It's only gonna hurt for a sec and I'll be right here."
At first I thought he wasnt even gonna cry. Cuz there was few-second time delay. And I thought, "What a tough little dude."
Then he started crying, so I kept talking to him calmly. His mom had told me that babies can recognize up to five voices in the womb.
So I knew that he recognized my voice and that it would bring him some degree of comfort.
» I Did Good for You
About that time I heard his mom calling for him. So I said, "That's your mom calling for you. She sounds pretty eager to see you. She has advanced degrees in child development .. so you'll be in good hands. I did good for you."
The nurse who is tending to him on the other side looks at me like I'm a nut.
"He should know these things, right?" I said. "Sooner or later."
But really, I just wanted him to hear my voice speaking to him in a calm and reassuring manner. Because there wasnt much else I could do about the harpoon. He definitely had a little knot there in the days afterward. ]]
» Egan the Cock-Strong Funny Fucker Who Played Not Far From the Edge
It is not difficult to learn while you are growing up, as you most likely already know .. to learn who you dont fuck with. And Egan is one of these guys.
He is cock-strong and he played not far from the edge. (Which is why I liked him.) He has a few cracked welds somewhere.
[ Lance, on the other, was not strong. But he didnt need to be. Trust me. ]
You could tell a lot by Egan's sense of humor .. because he was a funny fucker. But we got along good. With Lance normally serving as our point-of-contact.
It is beyond the scope of today's entry (well beyond) .. but the Wow girl .. she wanted the crazy person to come out and play.
And she knew right where he lived. So she knew how to find him.
And she knew how to get him to come out and play. She knew just how to coax him out.
I could write a short story about that one topic. Because it is a weird feeling Of someone being able to stroll down the corridors of your deepest recesses.
Exhilarating yet scary .. depending on not much more than mood.
Tho he was not one of my main friends. But sure, I would have liked to have been able to know him better.
Both Lance and Egan went to Catholic schools until the 8th grade. Many great stories about the nuns while sitting around the camp-fire.
In high school, tho, all the Catholic boys went wild .. like the repression was finally unwinding. It was downright entertaining. (Remind me to tell you the story about the time the cops thru Egan in the back of the cop car.)
» Death by Laughter (With Egan's Girlfriend's Older Brother)
This is way off-topic, I admit, but indulge me, cuz it is worth mentioning .. and I might not ever get another chance.
For most of our high school years Egan dated the same girl. And you cant really blame him. She was a hottie. Maybe even the hottie.The hottie of hotties, you know .. depending on your personal preferences.
Speaking of high school hotties, remind me to tell you about Lisa, whose younger sister was best friends with my cousin Diane, who lived upstaris.
Sometimes Lisa would stop by to see me, after dropping off her sister. My mom would come into my room and say, "Lisa's here to see you."
Rad note » I got a little carried away talking about Lisa .. so I tranferred the text to its own page .. see here » Lisa and Her Brother's Stag.
At the end of that page is a link that will return you to this exact spot.
But I did not know Egan's girlfriend very well. I did however, know her older brother.
He dated my cousin who lived up stairs. (Tunie Oonie Woonie.) I liked him a lot. What a sense of humor. It was hard to be with him without having serious fun.
[ Tunie is 3 years younger than me and Ritchie is 1 year old than me .. so that means Tunie is dating guys who are 4 years older than her. That's Tunie. ]
Whenever I would see his car parked out in the driveway, I would run upstairs to see him. (She dated a lot of cool guys.)
And I am telling you this so that I can tell you about the time when I returned from (9-week) Navy bootcamp in Orlando.
And you know how there are some people with whom you just easily click .. naturally and without even trying. Like you get them and they get you. Intuitively.
Her older brother (Ritchie) was like that. He brought out in me something .. something, I dunno how to describe it. But when you just feel very comfortable with someone .. like you can just be yourself. That kind of thing.
And I had just returned from boot-camp only days before .. and we are driving over to this guy's house to socialize & relax and listen to some good music and maybe even have a beer myself. You know.
And I am feeling sooo good about being out of boot-camp .. which yes, sucks kinda bad. Not Marine Corps bad, but you are clearly not there to have a good time .. if you feel me. There is a screening process of sorts in place.
And my cousin Diane is driving Richie's car (which has 2 bucket seats up front) and Ritchie is sitting in the passenger seat, holding a can of beer. (He liked to drink.)
And I am glad to be home and I am glad to see Diane and I am glad to see him and I am glad to be out of boot-camp and I am glad about so many things that I can hardly stand myself.
And I am sitting in the backseat and perched up between their shoulders, talking to them .. but especially to Ritchie, cuz I know that he will appreciate the absurdity of the many different aspects of bootcamp.
"Drop your cocks and grab your socks. Rise and shine, your ass is mine." .. after beating on a big metal trash can with a wooden stick at 4AM.
And I am telling him what in was like .. and I can see that he is feeling me. Diane, too. But Ritchie I kept at him when I had him on the ropes .. and now he cant breathe ..
.. he is waving his left hand in total surrender. Unable to breathe. It felt like his funny bone was in the palm of my hand and I could squeeze it at will (cuz I had so many of these crazy stories about bootcamp) and like he was totally at my mercy.
I mean, it felt like I could squeeze his funny bone with fine-motor control.
And yes, I let him have mercy and catch his breath. But I felt at that point .. as tho, I could have killed him.
Because this shit was soo funny (.. the way the military does some things and fucks with you at four o'clock in the morning) and I could see that he was feeling me, big time.
I mean, I had an endless supply of these stories. I could have went on all night about it.
And the way I was telling these stories .. one after the other .. rapid-fire .. like "You are not going to believe this crazy shit." accentuated the absurdity of the thing without distorting the underlying reality.
So I was making myself laugh, too. But I was just feeling soo good about so many things. And Diane too, is just so easy to be with. And when she laughs, he whole body shakes.
But Ritchie was at my mercy. Because he can see both the absurdity and the reality of the situation. And I was workin' him on it.
I mean, I went on a few extra times after I was going to quit. But he really wasnt breathing for a real long time. So I stopped. "This fucker is gonna pass out if he doesnt take a breath in the next 10 seconds."
We had such a good evening that night. Winter-time, when it got dark early. I remember it was very cold out. My blood was still used to Orlando weather.
So I kinda used Egan's girlfriend to tell you that story. ( "Sorry about that, Hel." )
.. her brother drove out from Connecticut with another friend (Danny Dell) over a thousand miles to see me there.
The other guy's sister was living in a posh suburb of Chicago (Evanston), so we all went to visit her. At the Windy City.
They certainly named that city correctly.
» Resonating with the Addictive Type
It might be worth mentioning here something that Ritchie told me. I dont think it will do any harm, but perhaps prove instructive.
Like I said, I just got along with him so easily .. and he can see that. Anybody can. And he says to me, referring to the can of beer in his hand (something like) »
» "I could probably have a drinking problem if I wanted. I like to drink. But I take it slow. I only drink beer. And I dont drink-n-drive. I just like the feel of a can of beer in my hand. Sometimes your cousin gives me a hard time about it."
I just found him very open and honest and self-aware. He was basically saying that the can of beer was a security blanket for him. I had never heard it put that way.
I dont try to resonate most naturally with these types of people .. I just do. I am talking about in a Socrates Know Thyself sort of way.
I said to Ritchie, "I dont see a problem, bro. You are not slurring your words. You are lucid. You are not staggering. At all. I would tell you if I saw a problem."
» Mere Words Inadequate to Describe Lance's Competitive Nature
To simply say that he was competitive or that he was very competitive does not do justice to Lance's competitive nature. Not hardly.
Which is why I am going into detail .. to try and show you what I am talking about.
I was not naturally that competitive, no. Not nearly. Few are. But he brought it out in you. Whether you wanted him to or not.
If you were on his team, which I often was, like in basketball, for example .. Lance was your biggest fan. He would enthusiastically cheer your every success .. your every team success.
He would literally LEAP off the bench .. cheering for you. Calling out your name and shouting, "Yes! Yes!"
But if you were on the opposing team, he would use his superior skills and speed to trick-fuck you left-n-right. No mercy. Not even a little. May God have mercy on you.
Now you might think, like I did, and hope that, since you and Lance are friends, that he would take it easy on you. But you'd think wrong, my friend.
You are now the enemy and will be treated as such.
» The Competitive Lance Effect Rubbed Off Onto Everybody Around Him
Sometimes .. when I was delivering my newspapers .. on a route in an area that contained a park that was a half-mile or so from my house .. where I knew most of the kids from school ..
.. some times I would drop my paper bag and play a little football with these guys. "They'll get their paper a little late today. Too bad. I wanna play some football with these guys."
This field got so much use .. from both baseball and football .. that the grass was having a hard time growing here.
Dude, I told the QB in the huddle, "I'm gonna run straight down the field. Just throw it high and far."
There are 4 guys covering my ass. Four defenders. He throws the ball high and far.
I remember being surprised that this guy could throw so good. He was a lefty. And my cousin, who I grew up with, he was also a lefty. So I knew how to catch a lefty.
You actually catch a ball differently when it's thrown by a lefty .. you have to place your hands differently .. to adjust for the opposite spin. It takes some practice.
My cousin fancied himself Johnny Unitas .. so he threw those balls with some zip-n-zing.
Anyway .. this ball is coming down the field and it is a beautiful throw. No wobble at all. Perfect spiral.
And I think, "Man, this fucker can throw. And he's a lefty. I know how to catch lefties."
And I jump up there and come down with it .. like a piece a cake. I just jumped up there and took it ..
.. exactly like Lance did to me so many times. So, so many. There might even have been five of 'em (defenders .. jumping up with me).
And I thought, "These chumps obviously never played with Lance. They would not catch any balls at all with him around."
And I had a glimpse of an insight in that moment into what it must be like to be Lance. And yes, it felt good. Very good.
Cuz when I would do this with Lance .. when we would both go out for a pass .. one the receiver and one the defender ..
.. which we did a LOT over the years while growing up .. with my older cousin playing steady quarterback .. I could feel Lance's butt sitting up on top of my back .. he jumped so high.
And I am thinking, "How does he manage to get up there so high?"
I delivered these papers on that particular route during ages 12 and 13 (for 2 years). So at age 11 or 12, Lance is already skying for the ball ..
.. the long-bomb ball. And catching it. Pretty much every time. "If you touch it, you should catch it" was just one of his many mantras.
» Split-Second Timing & Perfection of Technique
But basically, you adjust the timing of your steps so that you are at maximum height when the ball comes down. It's very much about timing.
And sometimes Lance would let you catch it and then jump up a half second later .. and take it from you .. right out of your hands. Steal it from you. "Mine now, bitch."
Before you have a chance to reel in and secure your outstretched arms. Which is very much about split-second timing and precision execution. Technique.
And knew how to cheat a little and hold you down, so you couldnt jump as high.
I mean, his technique was impressive. (Especially when he was using it to trick-fuck you.)
He broke pass-receiving records everywhere he went. First-string all-American wide receiver .. for (smaller) class B schools. But still.
» Teaching You the Technique Mojo to Up Your Game
But he would teach you stuff, too. His mom took him to sports camps every summer up in Lake George (NY) ..
Gorgeous place. Pristine. Wonderfully fresh air. Very clean.
[ She was a Valley girl, but only because she was from the Valley. Because she was nothing like the stereotype.
But she could do an impressive imitation. She certainly knew the stereotype well. Make your ass laugh good-n-hard.
Speaking of which .. of all the girls I have been with .. she made sex the easiest.
Normally, I would have to be employing male impulses in the driver's seat.
But with her .. I did not have to do jack shit .. but lay there. And she would do you and have you and have her way with you and make you marvel at her approach.
Which would make for an interesting topic .. tho not here.
But more than once I remember having to admit, "Wow, you're really good."
I was curious if it was a California thing .. or an LA woman type-of-thing. Because she was kinda in a league of her own. She was certainly representing well.
And knowing how to make you feel comfortable is a big part of this marvelous goodness.
And if they have hang-ups regarding intimate things .. you can sense that.
And my experience has been that .. girls who come from strong religious backgrounds typically have the most hang-ups.
Does that surprise anybody? ]
So yes, Lance taught me lots of tricks .. but only after he used them to trick-fuck me.
And truth be told .. of course, I have no way to prove this .. but my gut instinct says that they only reason, or at least the main reason that he told me these tricks ..
.. that he shared with me these advanced-level techniques .. over the course of years .. was because he needed me to up my game.
I mean, to a large degree, I was his main competitor over the course of years. His sparing partner, so to speak.
Lance was very fast and he had excellent hand-eye coordination but he was not very big or strong .. so he needed and relied on technique. Superior technique.
The Summer of Tennis » Hit It at Me Hard As You Can
I mean, he asked me to join him many times at the tennis courts over the course of an entire summer .. when he was big into taking tennis lessons.
And yes, he was good at tennis, too. Very good.
He says, "I just need you to hit the ball at me as hard as you can." He didnt so much care if it were in or out .. only that it came at him with heat and zing.
And he was loving it, let me tell you. Because they were coming at him with heat and zing.
When Lance is happy with your performance, you know it. He cant hide it. Nor does he want to.
You talk about a million different things while you are playing .. and he went on for a while about how hard it was to find somebody who could really send the ball at him with heat and zing.
We talked about so many things while playing tennis. I really got to know him well that summer .. because it was just the two of us. (Normally, we hung out in a group.)
I saw a different side of him that summer. More intimate. More personal. Much more.
And as you play over the summer, your arm naturally gets stronger .. so you can hit even harder and more accurately.
And there too, he taught me countless little techniques. And my game improved markedly. My hard shots started being more in than out.
He loved that. He loved a game challenger. Who could challenge him.
He would TELL you when you made a particularly good shot. She was not shy about praising his opponent .. because he was almost always better than you. No matter how good you got.
In other words, he was not jealous of your skills. No matter how good they got. Not hardly.
So perhaps you can see now why I feel like I played no small part in his numerous (locally legendary) athletic successes.
That movie .. 20 Feet From Stardom .. I got that movie. Better than most.
Cuz I could go to most any other place and play most any other game and whip most any other asses .. without even breaking a sweat. Particularly in those sports that involve skill and technique more than strength or speed.
» Saturday Morning 25-Mile Bike Rides with One of My Bosses
[ Remind me to tell you about the 25-mile bike rides that I would go on here in California with my boss early Saturday morning .. which would sometimes kick my ass so thoroughly that afterwards I would just go home and go to sleep .. pass out from exhaustion while lying on the bed .. on a Saturday afternoon. Even after coffee. Waking later and wondering if I had overslept and if I was late for work. "What day is it?" He was another fiercely competitive dude. ]
Lance taught his two younger brothers to break pass-receiving records, too. So technique obviously plays a big part.
21 to 19 » The Sweetest Victory that Lasts Forever
Lance had many rules .. regarding how the competitive athlete approaches and regards competition. Such as » you should catch everything you touch.
But probably his #1 rule was » you always make the last basket before you leave the court for the day. Always. No exceptions. Ever.
You always leave the competitive arena on a positive note. On a winning note.
And if you forgot, he would remind you. He woud call you back.
Now I told you that (Lance's #1 rule) in order to tell you this sweetest of gems.
» Countdown to Ecstasy
My boss is like, "What're you gonna do? Just fuck off?"
» The Hippie
Lance & Egan were the jock crew in high school. But I was working at this gas station 7 days a week.
So my friends just naturally began to revolve around the guys who worked at the station .. which were a 23-year old mechanic (Julio) ..
.. the Italian boy, who all the really hot chicks were hot for. Many stories, yes.
And their friends became my friends. But one of these friends was a dude from my high school class, who we all called "The Hippie" (..cuz of his long hair).
I loved the Hippie. We actually came together because he was a good friend of Julio (Bob).
Rad note » this section on the Hippie grew big enough to warrant it own, separate page .. so I lifted and mover it here » The Hippie & Kerpa (from High School Days).
At the end on that entry, I have included a link to return you here to this exact section.
Anyway, I got a little distracted there with my friends from high school. Let me return to what I told my boss at the gas station when he asked, "What are you going to do? Just fuck off?"
"Exactly," I said.
I mean, I had plenty of cash to fuck off with .. from working there 44 hrs a week, every week for the past few years.
And I was working out and getting strong and growing muscle and getting good rest and eating good. I was preparing physically (and emotionally) for 9 weeks of Navy bootcamp in Orlando. My first hurdle.
My dad is pulling his hair out because I am not miserable like him, but I am not home very much.
And I saw Lance throwing hoops by himself one lazy Saturday afternoon at the basketball court a stone's throw down the street from where we lived.
I mean, this is where I first heard him utter the rule. It might even had been where he invented it. I dunno. But this is certainly where he said it most .. cuz this is where we most often played.
» Spitting Distance
And just to reinforce here that I am doing a good job at keeping my subject and theme on track .. I should note that this basketball court is right next to the Little League field that I mentioned earlier.
If you could spit real good, you could hit the baseball field from the border of the basketball court.
So I pulled over to stop and say hi. And it was later in the summer. Not long before he went off to college on that full-boat athletic scholarship ..
.. where he would break more pass-receiving records and become an All-American.
And we were taking turns throwing hoops and chatting when he talked me into playing a game of one-on-one .. of course. Lance being Lance, Mr. Competitive.
One point per basket. First to 21 wins. Must win by two.
Those were all the standard rules that we had played by for years .. at many different courts around the state. But you always formally state the rules beforehand if there might be the slightest doubt.
And I was bigger and taller and stronger and my legs were stronger from working out, so I could jump higher now than I could before.
And by now I had learned all those tricks over all those years .. that he had used to trick-fuck me with.
And I just had a hot hand that day. I was not missing very many, if any.
And I *won* that last game. The last game that I ever played against Lance » 21-19.
He desperately tried to get me to stay and play another.
"Wish I could, Lance," I say over my shoulder, walking away, feeling very good. "But I gotta run."
After that win, there was no way in hell that I was going to play him again. Zero. Nada. That might've been the only time I ever beat him one-on-one like that .. far as I can recall.
Tho we did not play much one-on-one basketball. Because there were usually more players.
The Lance Taunt » If You're Scared, SAY You're Scared
And nobody is good at goading you into a game that you dont wanna play like Lance.
So I know from experience (much experience) that I need to get the fuck out of there in a hurry. Right now. Do not delay. In the slightest.
Or he will trick-fuck you into playing another game and probably be much more motivated this time.
He was known for taunting people into doing things they didnt want to do with » "Hey, if you're scared, SAY you're scared." [ « Another famous Lance-ism. ]
Few people knew what losing the last game meant to him. Especially when there was no telling when or if I would ever see him again in a competitive sports environment.
It was sweet revenge after he had trick-fucked me all those years.
I mean, the loss meant more to him than the win meant to me. And yes, the win meant a lot to me. But much more so because the loss meant so much to him.
I dont know if that makes sense to you. If it doesnt, I understand. Because I dont really understand it myself ..
.. how a little thing like a basketball game could mean so much to somebody. But I understood Lance. And I knew it did.
I mean, I was tingling walking off that court. You could feel it.
If we ever meet again, the first thing Lance is going to want to do is to play me in something, anything. Chess, checkers. It doesnt matter. Just so he can "win the last game".
» American Legion Baseball
The next year after Little League is the American Legion league. The captain from one of the teams called to say they needed a pitcher.
But I passed. I felt like I needed a break. It is major commitment.
And the distance from the pitcher's mound to home plate is quite a ways further in American Legion. You are throwing l.o.n.g.e.r. pitches.
And I saw some of their games. They threw serious heat. These were the hard core Little Leaguers who had grown up a few years eating their mom's lasagne.
But sure, I was honored to get a call from that guy. (The captain of the swim team called, too.)
I was thinking about Lance when I got diagnosed. Because his dad died of cancer when he was 10.
And I was there with him, watching cartoons with some of the other neighborhhod kids .. that Saturday morning when all of the neighborhood parents dressed up like it was Sunday and went to the funeral.
So I know the effect that this kind of loss can have on a young boy.
And my own son was 9 when I was diagnosed. (He's 10 now.)
The end. ■
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