When I was a senior in high school, someone with distinctly more school spirit than I decided to organize a three-on-three basketball tournament.
Even in high school, I was good at many, many things. Basketball was, however, about as far down on the list as you probably imagine it was.
Nevertheless, Kevin H., Allen H., and I–the three least athletic kids in school with the exception of Max B., who smoked a pipe and did a great Corazon Aquino impersonation–decided to form a three-on-three basketball team for the tournament. The fact that I’d had any number of sexual fantasies involving Kevin H.–in fact I’m feeling somewhat warm under the collar remembering some of them–had nothing, I repeat nothing to do with my decision to join.
We realized that the most vital thing to do, far more important than, say, learning any of the rules of basketball or, oh, practicing, was to come up with a name for our team. And so we did: Stegosaurus. The next most important thing was to get T-shirts. And so we did. They were a hideous salmon, with stegosaurus decals on the front and our individual team nicknames on the back. Kevin was “Earthquake,” Allen was “Killer,” and I was “The Blade.” (Our coach, Mr. Moore, our AP English teacher, was “X-Terminator.”)
During the weeks leading up to the tournament, we spent long minutes strategizing. When the day of the tournament arrived, we were brilliant. We showed up in our Stegosaurus T-shirts and struck fear into the hearts of all. Play started, and, though the heat was on, we kept our heads cool. As planned, I pretended to lose a contact lens, thereby putting myself in position to body-check a member of the opposing team, a move I accomplished with great aplomb. At another crucial moment, Mr. Moore–wearing, if memory serves, a seersucker suit over his Stegosaurus shirt–blew a boat horn and distracted the other team, thereby causing them to miss a point.
Nevertheless, by the final moments of the game, we were still behind. I don’t remember the actual score, and I can’t even make anything up because I don’t know how basketball is scored, but suffice it to say, things weren’t looking good–
–when all of a sudden I got control of the ball. Under pressure I instantly became a basketball genius, dribbling and whirling and making my way to the basket, where I shot and, astonishingly, scored.
I was still jumping (literally) for joy when someone informed me that, because of a rule about playing on a half court or something, I’d actually scored the winning basket for the other team.
If I’d had any dreams of joining the NBA, they would have been quashed right then and there. Luckily, all I wanted to do was sing baroque opera in all the great capitals of Europe, so I was a-okay.