Oh, Josh, your wife is a very
So, weirdly enough, I was really into sports in high school. I did track and cross-country, but my main sport was basketball. Basketball was a pretty big deal at Freedom High School (actual name) and it wasn't easy to land a spot on the Patriots team (actual team name). We had something like 1,000 boys in that school. And, okay, not all of them wanted to be on the b-ball team (what I actually called it), but it was pretty competitive. And I was pretty good. In fact I was exactly the 12th best basketball player out of the 1,000 boys in that school during my junior year.
I know I was exactly the 12th best player because there were 12 players who made the team. And I was the worst. So again: pretty big honor to make the team, pretty sad accomplishment to be the worst dude on the team. I went to all the practices, travelled to all the games, put in a ton of time wearing spandex undershorts (see picture), but I NEVER GOT IN THE GAMES. I just sat there, riding the pine, hanging out with the cheerleaders. It could've been worse, but it could've been better. I wanted some quality PT! (What I actually called "playing time.")
So near the end of the year, there was one of those games where were just crushing the opposition. The Patriots had some quality players that year and as our lead got bigger and bigger, the end of the bench guys got more and more excited. There were only about nine guys that played on a regular basis, with two other schlubs like me. They got in slightly more than I did, make no mistake. I was THE ABSOLUTE WORST. But they spent a lot of time getting splinters in their butts as well.
So our lead grew and the coach started looking down towards the end of the bench. I remember fixing my hair, as if he was going to choose who to put in based on who was the most perfectly-coiffed. But instead he chose Rashan. Rashan was a cool guy. Like really cool. Everyone loved him. He had a cool nickname -- Boogie. Okay, maybe that's not a cool nickname, but he made it work. He had a way about him. He was way worse at basketball than at least ten guys on the team, and only better than one, but he was cool.
So the coach looked down the bench and yelled, "Boogie -- get in there." The crowd went nuts. Before he even got in, just when he took off his warm-up jersey and walked to the scorer's table, the crowd went nuts. "BOOGIE! BOOGIE! BOOGIE!" He probably winked. Girls probably fainted. So Boogie gets into the game and doesn't exactly distinguish himself with his play. He misses a shot, drops a pass, and fouls a guy -- which is one thing you're really not supposed to do late in a game with a big lead. The crowd didn't care. They kept chanting. "BOOGIE! BOOGIE! BOOGIE!" He kept grinning.
Coach looked down the bench. He realized there was one other scrub who never got into games. Or maybe he was just pissed at Boogie about that foul. "Berk," he said. My heart leapt. "They're probably going to kill me, but go get Rashan." By "they," he meant the crowd. The hundreds -- thousands -- of Boogie-fans stomping in the bleachers.
"It's cool, Coach," I said, taking off my warm-up jersey. "They love me too."
Was I delusional? A little. Not totally. I knew I wasn't as cool as Boogie. But I had some friends I thought would be happy to see me in the game. At least my dad maybe. And besides, everyone was in a good mood. We were winning by about 25 points. The whistle blew. The referee waved me in.
"Boogie," I said, pointing to him. This is all you have to do to tell a player you're in and they're out. You point at them and say their name. It took the crowd a moment to realize what was happening, but once they did, it was brutal. "Boo," I heard, and tried to convince myself they were just cheering for "Boogie," and not yet getting around to the second syllable.
But no. They were booing. "Booo! Boooo! BOOOOOOOOOOO!" This was the first --
the only! -- time I got into a game all year. And I got booed. At a home game. By my own fans. FML. I promptly dropped a pass, missed a shot, fouled a guy. FML x2.
So that's that, friends. The good thing about it all was that I ended up not playing basketball at all senior year. (Okay, I got cut.) I let my hair grow long, let my freak fly in the wind, and got a really cute girl to go to prom with me. (Actually she asked me, and still pretty much calls the shots around here; we've been married for 9 years.)
Find Josh at joshberkbooks.com