Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Another chance at bliss...

I return on Saturday to the place where I've most recently nearly lost my life.

That would be the John Paul Jones Arena at the University of Virginia, otherwise known as The Boat, otherwise known as the Crystal Ship. The plan is to join my friend Dave to review the Virginia men's basketball team as they play Florida State. How they ever allowed Florida State into the ACC is beyond me; likewise Boston College. Still there they are and there I shall go.

My friend Dave is apparently quite an important person. Not as important as my friend Earl, who I believe has testified before Congress (which puts him one up on all of us, with perhaps the exception of me), but still obviously a man of considerable substance. I say obviously, yet prior to my last trip to The Crystal Ship I had no idea Dave held such sway in the Commonwealth of Va (pronounced "vah" by no less than Michael Vick). The minute we sat down he was shaking hands with everyone. For a moment I thought he was running for Governor.

I was introduced to any number of people, all of whom I've forgotten. This could be attributed to the beer I drank prior to the game or otherwise perhaps to a general, increasing loss of cognitive function. I do remember someone was introduced to me as Meredith's coach. At this I nodded vigorously, although I was having some trouble piecing together just who Meredith was. They say that you can tell you are overweight if, when running down stairs, parts of your body shake in counterpoint to the general scheme of things. Likewise too much to drink if one's eyeballs shake in counterpoint to one's nodding head. I realized at some point that Meredith's coach was looking at me oddly. I can only assume this had something to do with the way my eyeballs were vibrating--a cross, perhaps, between now-dead, what hump? Marty Feldman and Mike Singletary.

Too vigorous, I thought, trying to calm myself. Nonetheless, I clearly had my gameface on.

Which brings us to the dicey part.

Dave and I had lovely seats--the lowest row of the upper deck. High enough to see the overall game; close enough to see the fear in the eyes of the opposing team. I might have preferred a lower angle on the cheerleaders, but that's just one man's quibble.

In front of us was a foot-tall concrete lip upon which we could rest our feet or drinks or both. Extending up another foot or so was a Plexiglass (which I have capitalized as a nod to Tom Wolfe) shield. So situated, and with Virginia crushing the opposition, raining three pointers down on them the way the skies of Northern Virginia so recently gave us snow, life was good. At least until halftime.

Now, at halftime, the cheerleaders like to shoot balled-up t-shirts into the crowd as a way of stirring us up. They use a type of bazooka. Towards the end of these particular proceedings, I could see one of them aim his device straight at me. Well, not exactly straight at me--a bit high, actually--but anyone who has ever shot free throws knows that line is important.

So the t-shirt arcs past me and strikes the crowd some five or six rows above. Of course, no one up there can catch it, so it caroms in my direction. I reach way out--waaay out--to get it, manage to put a couple of fingers on it, then bobble and drop it over the edge to the crowd below. At this point, I realize that God Herself is about to bobble and drop me over the edge to the crowd below. Miraculously, I regain my balance and return to my seat.

And that's how I nearly lost my life.

And now I find I am returning not only to this very same Boat, but to the very same seats within the Boat.

If this time I fall to my death, I'd like to be buried in Le Pere Lachaise, next to Jim Morrison. I believe my credentials as one of the world's leading neo-impressionist portraitists will withstand whatever scrutiny is employed to screen candidates for what, I am sure, is a highly-coveted spot.


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