Best friends and basketball games
by Cathy Speck
(Dear iPinion new and/or nude readers: FYI — “Blong” is blog + song = Blong.)
Holy Toledo! I have three half-finished (as opposed to three unfinished) Blong entries gathering dust in my draft folder, so it’s time to put my foot down.
Well, that didn’t help.
It’s time to put my fingertips down on the keyboard, then up down, sideways, sideways up down… I’m getting dizzy.
So what’s with the “Holy Toledo” exclamation? Well, that was something my Dad said the other day when I called to see how he was feeling. Which reminds me: My “blong master,” Dr Laura Marsh, is a unique gem who voluntarily makes my Blong happen. Without her, my writings would languish in folders, or be quickly deleted from “in-boxes” of folks who are just too darn busy to read my musings.
And speaking of “Holy Toledo,” Yikes! Oh no! OMG, my email about my dad and his gastrointestinal problems was not meant to be a Blong entry. I might be wide open about my personal challenges, but that doesn’t mean I should open my dad’s bathroom door for all the world to see, smell, or hear… Sorry about that Pop. (Not poop.) = (
I didn’t explain to the good doctor that my phone conversation with Dad was NOT meant to be on the Blong.
Unfortunately, entries can’t be exit-ed… or deleted, but I can’t complain, ’cause am so grateful that Laura Marsh does my Blong. (That sounds nasty — oh well, that’s another story.)
Okay, here’s part of the story: Back in the late 1980s, Laura Marsh, Angela Simon (my partner at the time), and I lived together in an old farmhouse way out in the country southwest of Dixon.
Enough of that that story, except I do want to talk more about Angela (my nickname for her is “Blanchie.”) After Blanchie and I broke up in 1989, we became best friends. (This phenomenon is common in the lesbian world.) We still are best friends, and although she lives in Long Beach, we’re closer than ever.
She was my “best woman” at Linda and my wedding celebration in 2001, and she gave a “perfect toast” before the dancing began. She was beautiful and sincere, yet her skin seemed slightly green, her eyelashes were gone and a scarf covered most of her bald head. She had just finished her final round of chemotherapy, following her mastectomy 2000.
Fast forward to 2009, I’m diagnosed with ALS, and Blanchie flies up to Davis as often as possible. Fast forward to 2011 — Blanchie has metastasized breast cancer. We’re both seriously fatigued, but my special Blanchie is the best friend a gal could ever have. What a pair we are: she’s still able to fly up to Davis in between her chemo treatments, which are every three weeks. But Linda and I haven’t figured out how to fly with all of my heavy, bulky oxygen equipment.
Blanchie, a psychology professor, is visiting us the week since her school is still on winter break. She is asleep on the futon right now. The chemo makes her very sleepy and fatigued. I’d be napping too, except any moment our friend Rachel Quinn will be coming over to take our dog Mazie out for a play date and poop parlor. We are very fortunate to have so much support — it takes the pressure off of Linda and me.
(Blanchie just woke up and asked what I was writing about, so enough about her. Ha, ha,)
* * *
Saturday, our friend Elizabeth (Gally) drove me to Chico State to watch my niece Erin’s game — the UC San Diego Tritons vs. the Chico State Wildcats (Gally has been a wonderful friend for a long time, and has been watching Erin play for about seven years.) Erin is Number 24, just like I was in high school. I played one year at Chico State as a freshman, and it was a blow to my ego. Bam! Down you go…
I also played one year at Sac State where I started, but our team won maybe about half our games. We certainly weren’t making any headlines, and we didn’t attract big crowds. However, we did have a loyal fan base of about 19 to 23 gay women. We sure liked our basketball, and the parties that followed.
At Davis High, I was a starter on every team I played, we always won our league championships, and I usually won All League, MVP or some other honor. This isn’t bragging; I’m just reporting the facts, ma’am. Back then, it seemed like everyone knew that “Speck” meant ”All-star.”
Then I went to college, and realized I wasn’t “the best” after all. It was a painful lesson to learn, and often I felt lost, but I also learned to be less self-centered and more humble and respectful. I also discovered “winning” games wasn’t why I played. I played because basketball was my passion.
Pretty much the same thing has applied to singing/performing. We never made Billboard’s top ten, and didn’t get rich or famous, but we were passionate about making music. Now that I can no longer sing/perform, I listen to music and simply enjoy it instead of telling myself how I would do it differently and/or probably better. Ha! ha!
Since our duo and band never made it “big time,” we’ll never be “has beens.” Hmm, I feel a quote brewing. I’m not sure if I already mentioned this, but one of my recent joys is to make up quotes, so I can quote myself later on. So, let’s see here — how about: “You’ll never be a ‘has been’ if you never were.” Hmmm. Or, “To be, or not to be a has been” or “To not to be and not has been.” Um, I’ll keep working on that one. Let me know what you think so far.
Back to the Tritons vs the Wildcats at Saturday’s game and adventure: Gally and I brought Mazie to the game because the amazing monkey Mazie is a people-magnet, and she helps just about everybody smile and chuckle. The “wheelchair” seating was in the front row, very close to the sidelines of the court — like about two feet. I was sitting on a normal chair, while Mazie was doing her “Princess Pose” on my walker. She was the “All-star,” not I.
Adults and kids were letting her lick their faces (how many faces do they really have) or they’d walk over to her just to pet her and get a giddy closer look. They were enraptured. I am not exaggerating — ask Gally, she’s a no-nonsense gal from Kansas.
Anywaaaaay, it seemed like we two were our very own petting zoo — for free! Folks didn’t flinch a bit when they looked up at me and saw the tubes up my nose, my neck brace and my purple forehead tattoo that says, “Beat the “L” out of ALS.” (I’m quoting Cathy Speck.)
The Chico State Mascot noticed the commotion over in our area and trotted over to check out the scene. Mascots aren’t supposed to talk, but when he finally got to see Mazie, she barked and barked. She was barking at the wild CAT. We were all stunned, and then the Cat said ,” Really!?” I looked him right in the eye (maybe — it’s hard to tell) shrugged my shoulders, and kind of scrunched my nose: “Sorry, I think you’re scaring her.”
The Cat walked away rather dejectedly, until some fans farther down the bleachers called out to him to dance around. Mazie barked at the Cat — she has never, ever barked during a basketball game, and she’s been to at least a dozen or three.
Now, that’s a good story, but it’s not the only one. The game was the best college women’s game I have ever seen, and I’ve seen hundreds, maybe thousands, but that requires math skills that haven’t been used since Google was born. Not Barney Google — and now I can’t remember who Barney Google is — any help out there?
This was a helluva fast game that went into two —TWO — overtimes (which are five minutes each.) During the game it was seesaw scoring and bursts have awesome defense. At some point in the second half, it looked like UCSD went too long without scoring and the players lagged a bit, but not for long. Wham, off they went! I think the final score was something like 94 to 89.
Incredible! I unabashedly cheered and clapped my hands for the first time in over two years. Erin is ailing with back problems, so she didn’t get to play. I know how that feels, and I also know that Erin is a smart, solid player who never gives up. She is quality.
And speaking of “quality,” after the game, every Chico player ran up into the bleachers and sincerely thanked the spectators for coming to the game. I consider that to be a high quality, classy act. I think I’ll mention that to our Davis High School girls’ team.
That was a thrilling game for San Diego, and the fans surely got a big bang for their bucks (and stop calling me Shirley). By the way, the gym was packed, and their pep band pumped out motivating music at every possible moment. (Many folks were also there to see the men’s game, which followed the women’s.)
I’m guessing there were about 10 UC San Diego fans that made the long trip up to Chico. I don’t know if I ever heard them cheer, but I was making enough noise for all of us. It’s quite difficult to yell,’ ‘Defense. Tritons, defense! Go Tritons!” It simply is not a good word to yell. It doesn’t project well, and most people mishear it ’cause they don’t know what a “Triton” is. Do you? Without googling it?
It sounds kind of like a condom brand name. I didn’t want to be cheering on condoms (even though they do prevent “whoops!” pregnancies.) Instead I yelled, “GO SAN DIEGO!” almost every time there was an otherwise quiet moment. Those words have great vowel sounds that carried throughout the gym. Erin told me after the game that they could clearly hear me. ALS hasn’t completely shut me up yet… yet. Yet. Now that’s a funny word if you stare it for awhile and keep repeating it in your head —like I just did.
I do believe the previous sentence is an indication of my need for a nappppppppppp. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Yup, surely it is nap time, not lap (top) time; but please stop calling me Shirley.