Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yes, l Was A Football Player Too...

The other day I was having breakfast at the local restaurant in Folsom. It was one of those times where everyone is leaving just as you arrive, but it was okay because I really just wanted to sit and be quiet, eating my Greek omelet and perusing the newspaper for the latest political gaffe.

When I'm alone, close to the kitchen door, I always roll up a used napkin and attempt a three point shot from where I sit. I don't do it when all my friends, or my wife, are present. Therese thinks it is in poor taste and she's embarrassed no matter whether I make the shot or not. I don't shoot from three point range when my friends are present because they all give me a hard time about missing such a easy lay up.

But on this late morning Tuesday, there were only a few patrons. Many of the folks arrive at Gus's in shifts for their early morning coffee and eggs, grits, bacon and toast. One group consists of plow boys and cowboys, who would either arrive before or after their chores. Then, around seven o'clock or so, you'd get the commuters waiting to get their coffee mugs filled and hang around a bit for some local gossip.

The retired and church going folks arrive around eight or eight thirty depending on how long the sermon is. They are the most laid back, loyal and noisiest bunch of the morning. I surmise it is so noisy because no one is wearing their hearing aids when the mass sermon is being given and they forget to turn them back on once they arrive at the restaurant. But now, it was mid morning, and it was the calm before the lunch storm.

Basketball was never a game that I could play well even though my grandfather built me and my other brother a basketball goal from wood. It was built to the regulation height with a 3/4 inch plywood backboard bolted to two 1" by 6" pressured treated posts which were cemented deep into the ground. It also came with a metal rim and nylon netting. It was very cool having also a concreted area which my grandfather built in our backyard that measured about twenty by thirty feet.

It made little difference.

I couldn't shoot, dribble in traffic or even dribble alone. Dunking had not been created yet and it was just as well because I couldn't jump very high either. At an early age, I was the team mascot for my dad's company team, including football, baseball and basketball. The game never did appeal to me like baseball and football did, even though to this day, I still try my hand at sinking a twenty footer.

So, I took a napkin that I used as a coaster for my glass of cold water, rolled it up, looked around for the waitress's interference and then took a long, high shot hoping to make a clean "swish." Sometimes, I can get lucky and go two for three in the amount of time it takes at breakfast to require three or four napkins. On this day, I only used one and naturally, I missed the bucket. So, with a sigh, I got up from the table to pick up the wayward basketball, and as I came up from doing so, I tried a "turn around fade" shot, which again, is just off the edge of the basket.

Okay, I thought to myself, 0 for 2. It is just not my day. I'll just slam this puppy into the basket, "Kobe style" and be done with it. With a half-hearted effort, just in case someone is looking, I nonchalantly turn and drop the napkin into the basket.

I missed it again... from practically right over the basket. Dejectedly, I pick up the "ball with it's own agenda" and hand delivered it deep into what is now just a garbage can. Walking back to my table, shrugging off a pitiful performance, I hear a voice say rather sympathetically, " Football player, eh?"

"Yeh, says the now bearded, stocky man sporting a camo LSU baseball cap. " I was a football player at one time and can't play basketball worth a damn either!"

We commiserated and enjoyed a pretty good chuckle at each others' expense... One linebacker to another!

Copyright 2012/ Ben Bensen III


  1. Hilarious!!! Believe it or not, I do this too! Don't tell Therese! The recycling bin is about 5 feet from my desk at work. When no one is around or is actively looking, I crunch up a paper that I no longer need and try to get it into the bin. Invariably, I hit the edge and it bounces behind the printer forcing me not only to get up, but to bend at an awkward angle to retrive the dang thing. I fall right in line with the family heritage in that I can't play basketball either. Apparently the nice goal that Pops built was destroyed by the time I was old enough to walk because I don't ever recall playing basketball. Not even with the neighborhood kids - we just didn't play it! Dodge the ball, baseball, tennis, football, everything you can do with a ball, we did. Except play basketball.

  2. Yeh, termites! If I can find some pictures of the back yard back when, it will show you the basketball goal. Dad told me once that when he was a kid, only "sissies" played the game. Real men played baseball, ha!