Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Reasons to scream on Tuesday nights

It turned out Tuesday night was worth at least 50 cents, and that much I can guarantee. But more than that it was the kind of night where the radio never seems to play a bad song on the drive home, where red lights don’t exist, where there’s an unopened box of Mallomars and a half-gallon of milk waiting in the kitchen, and the roads are lonely enough that you can scream as loud as you want without someone looking at you strange. It was the kind where Michigan defeats Illinois by eight points while Daniel Horton spends the second half just praying no one had stashed a piece of kryptonite in their pockets.

You see, I was covering a girls basketball game in Weston Tuesday night, and though I’d put a blank cassette in the VCR it still meant I’d really only know the game as it was transcribed numerically, detailed in some six-column box-score back at the office. So somewhere around 7:30 I called my mom at home and asked her if she could make sure to text message me with an update every now and then. “I won’t message you unless something good happens,” she said. It was 34-28 when I spoke to her on the phone, and at 10 cents a text message I assumed it wouldn’t cost her very much to tell me they’d lost.

Then this happened:

LittleBrother123: johnny it’s cj michigan is winning 45-43! Feb 21, 8:13 pm
LittleBrother123: now its 47-45 , i wont bother you anymore unless they do really good. Feb 21, 8:20
LittleBrother123: 62-58 michigan 3:30 left Feb 21, 8:48 pm
LittleBrother123: 72-64 michigan has won!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Feb 21, 9:03 pm
LittleBrother123: this win was michigan’s coaches first career win vs. illonios Feb 21, 9:05 pm

Now I’ve eaten oreos with my brother, I’ve watched him play baseball with the same glove I broke in 10 years ago, I’ve seen the look on his face when I’ve picked him up from school when he wasn’t expecting it, I’ve had him fall asleep on my chest, thought about getting up to carry him to his bed, then just gone to sleep right there with him, but picturing his little golf-pencil sized fingers dashing across the keyboard to tell me they’d won was about as serious a limp as I think he’ll put in my legs for quite a while. There was that game I was covering, but damn it all, the boy went and told me the score even after he said he wasn’t going to anymore, he used exclamation points, he completely destroyed the spelling of Illinois; he even gave me an anecdote about Amaker for Christ’s sake.

Once I got around to watching the game yesterday, I still had no better an idea how it happened than I did reading how it happened on the 1 inch screen a day earlier. Sims still operates in the post like someone had told him to rather than actually wanting to; half the time Petway takes jump-shots he seems like he forgot the reason he jumped so high in the first place; Jerrett Smith – at least once a game – will make you wish you were doubted as much as he was just so you’d know what it’s like to prove everyone wrong, and Graham Brown is the type of guy who probably laid his varsity jacket over a puddle or two in high school so girls much prettier than he was didn’t have to get their ankles dirty stepping over it. We knew that. And with Horton, well, I’d always kind of hoped someone would put together a highlight reel of him, but after Tuesday I just hope they make sure I can play it in slow motion.

When you were growing up there was always that one stud guy who you knew could pretty much walk up to any girl in school and have his way with her. And that was a lot like what Horton was in the second half, only he was the stud, the girls were the baskets, and instead of writing her number on the back of his hand or giving him of those I-bet-you-want-to-know-what-color-panties-I’m-wearing glances, it was mid-lane floaters and 15 footers. You never knew how Horton was going to score, and you never cared, mainly because it never stopped happening. And as I pushed open the door to leave work, I was finally allowed to wonder things like whether my uncle in Los Angeles wouldn’t mind taking a drive with me down to San Diego if Michigan’s placed in that bracket, and not how many games of the NIT ESPN will broadcast.

But on the way home Tuesday night I didn’t know enough to realize all of that. My brother had told me all I wanted to hear; the most perfectly-spent half-dollar in the history of mankind. That night I drove through green lights with good songs to Mallomars and milk; Michigan had won, and I could scream when I wanted.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about an OSU preview, Johnny?

11:16 AM  
Blogger Johnny said...

I'm working on that now, Ben. I should have it up later tonight or tomorrow morning.

1:34 PM  

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