“We we’re expecting a banner and confetti! Where’s our banner?”
I stared blankly at them.
“Apparently this isn’t as big of a deal to everyone else as it is to us?”
Tonsil Bocce had just started the season 2-0 and Hillary and Brittany were elated. I think Hillary said the first line and Brittany said the second, but it could’ve been the other way around. You might remember Brittany from making that McDonald’s all-day breakfast thing happen? Imagine the collective public’s excitement when word was announced that McMuffins had no last call. That was the feel on court C for Brittany and her deep posse of bocce pros. Even my inadvertent attempts to suck the air out of their undefeated high only lasted a moment or two. They just moved the celebration to the bar, away from the peripheral of an indifferent commissioner.
I think the money games tainted me. They started as a way to kill time when we’d set up neurotically early. Just us refs trying to throw practice balls with purpose. $5 rounds, $10 half matches, and $20 full games. Eventually word spread of our illicit battles and some of our more confident vets came looking for some action. Now there’s about thirty players (and refs) who may actually look forward more to these enterprising after-dark games then the actual league matches. We either became the cool kids table or the unapproachable grouches who were still bitching and moaning about the last time we didn’t go 2-0. Same difference I guess.
Last night marked the first league night of 2016. Comparing that to our first league night of 2015, things felt a lot different. We knew 22 out of 24 of the teams. We didn’t have to check and recheck the schedule and the equipment and the personnel. One of the 24 teams showed up late and it felt foreign to even have to adjust the schedule to reflect that. Back in the day we never knew what to expect. Nowadays we got this. Somehow someway we’ve turned a reinvented game with on-the-fly portable inventions, rules, and culture into a routine.
And so we sometimes forget that for most, going 2-0 on a Monday is kind of a cool thing. Eluding a hot shot all night is a personal victory. We make friends with the enemies. And villains out of friends. For some, even an invitation to the enigmatic money game is a notch on the ol’ bocce belt. For all of us, it’s a routine that never feels routine.
After Frankenstein’s Wet Dream’s first game, I was all but sure that Keith “Da Beath” Kofoed was going to be the Player of the Week. His first game was surgical; halo, ball-in, ball-in, bocce, repeat. FWD seemed poised to assert dominance in the Early Bird Division. Their second game was against Moscow Mondays – brand spanking new to American Bocce – surely no match for the 24 seasons of combined experience on FWD. With a comfortable lead Keith gave a friendly pointer to the newbs: “No matter what, don’t hit the back wall. A ball on the board is a ball in play.” A few frames later and a lot more balls on the board, and Moscow Mondays found themselves down one with one round to play. And sure as a bocce ball rolls, they scored two and took down the favorites. Moscow Mondays went 1-1, and man did it feel good.
Afterwards Keith joked that it was their job to lose as ambassadors of American Bocce. He told me about the advice and what a good time Moscow Mondays had. His second game wasn’t as impressive on paper but in a room of 150 bocce players, he got the newest 4 off on the right foot at a time when I may have forgotten how important that can be.
Oh and hang the banner and drop the confetti because guess what happened as a result of FWD’s loss? Tonsil Bocce is in first place.
Player of the Week: Keith “Da Beath” Kofoed
Team of the Week: Tonsil Bocce