The Big Guy used to say, “you can’t not be a superstar off the court and one on.” His mentor, Rollie the name of the basketball in Madison was his footnote. Another favorite of his along the same lines was, “you can’t fly with the eagles and walk with the Turkey’s.” I was a varsity basketball player in Madison MA. And therefore never used drugs. I openly spoke against them since the sixth grade in the fast times that made up our junior high. And the stories and legends that came just before us that grew in lore as we tried to figure out our bodies and what the hell to do with our time. I hated cigarettes. I’d often break my mother’s as well as my Muffin’s little sisters. They got understandably pissed. My mother thought of me, ironed my pants and shirts as if, I was all American. And that was the role I played. But I’d begun down a dark and dangerous path given my sister’s mantra given that “gene” my mother forever was warning us about.
I’d taken pills only for the cache that had been attached to it by the Brat Pack of Madison from the 80’s that had been thrust onto our laps. Brett the funeral home director, Lynx the legend of trading pits lore, Des, my sister’s boyfriend my older brother, my mother’s helper and surrogate father had brothers that were truly shady, FBI raids, incarceration and mental facilities. There was “happy” the crack addicted life of the party on a long sad decline, in Madison middle class was lower class and lower middle class was complete ghetto. And black was black, METCO were kids that were bused here out of the love of their Caucasian benefactors that feared only what the program was designed to upend. And thought of many in the upper crust of 1% land as monkeys, they were thought as inferior, savage, criminally corrupt and mentally inferior. Nice huh?
For years the kids in our kitchen mirrored what we had what we drove and the down the street to Chadwicks vacations we incurred. But with my sister’s stunning maturity into a knockout zilla slash skating star in a somewhat broken abode all of that changed. We suddenly were in the thick of the wealthiest, most well off most fucked up kids to ever come out of Madison blame the 80’s.
But I was the “Dream” a joke in truth but fake it till you make it my mother never would let me forget it. I had aces call me as such. It was true. I was a varsity basketball player in Madison, MA. And therefore I never used drugs. I’d spoken out against what I saw crippling my own mother, friends and “legends” around me. The term it seemed with our new cast I looked up to that provided everything a kid could’ve ever asked for was becoming diluted. The fact in my heart was I wasn’t a legend. I’d know it if it were true and it was not. I did use drugs. I took pills. And now I smoked pot. I drank and smoked cigarettes. I stole, took bet’s and never ever listened just so as long as I could bury ten in a row from anywhere on the arc of that mighty three point stripe at any point in time on any day any rim anywhere, I was straight, such faulty thinking.
I knew so many that got high for high school everyday and now I was one of them. Santo was dead stay blazed and with my ADD I’d begun a love affair I had no idea existed. Currently sitting up in the ACE program with the Big Guy on the coach things were as back to normal as they’d ever be. Finally with the basketball banquet all of the ceremonies, funerals, wakes and gatherings were behind us.
The Big Guy had been great this past week. He’d opened the doors of ACE for any basketball player on any level to come up during class and just kick out. Sitting on the big orange couch I’m high as orbit reading the sports page for the third time today. The widows were open. A steady breeze put me at ease. The phone rang as it always did in the ACE program loudly. A reporter from some paper somewhere walks into the “program.” Just another reporter that wants to talk to the Big Guy about Danny’s passing I supposed. “Hey coach Bug Tuggins, Middlesex Examiner. “So you say, what?” A question is asked. The Big Guy twists his massive gut to the right and appears perplexed. I’m pretending to be asleep. “Shit, I hadn’t thought about that yet. It’s going to kill us. I just hadn’t had time to think about basketball. But hey (raises both paws) it’s a big loss. We’re a different team. It really hurts us on the glass, on the press but yo, hey we got depth.” As the interview concluded and I wipe the salvia off my face, the Big Guy, says, “Unbelievable, you know Carl, I hadn’t even thought about the team with so much going on, but.”
He stops for a pause, “What.” “It’s a huge loss! He was tall, athletic, wanted it, could shoot a captain” “I know coach, its crazy.” An hour passed in the phone rang again. This sounded like better news. “Hey wake up you dope!” I shuffled my head, sat up alert, “what?” “That was the Boston Celtics on the phone. We’re going to meet them on their private plane tomorrow at the air force base. They want to make a donation to Santo’s scholarship fund. Hey, no big deal.” “What!” He let me run off to tell everyone. The Boston Celtics and us Young Guns, I had to use the Big Guys favorite word, “unbelievable.”
And meet the Celtics we did. There were cameras we were in our off the charts new Adidas warm up suits which I myself designed and picked out. Robert “Chief” Parish was our resident hero having recently been busted for possession of two pounds of marijuana he said was all for personal. Many a Madison bong had Chief’s mug taped to the side of it. We toured their plane. We met the chef heard what he was preparing here course and even saw Larry Bird’s private room. An aching back was soon to end his hall of fame career. We chatted it up with Celtic’s coach Chris Ford. And from that hearty conversation we got our picture in the paper. The team captain, and local hero Reggie Lewis presented a check to Santo’s dad for the scholarship fund. We were amazed that our starting center “Stretch” was the same height as the Celtics starting two-guard.
And soon April was gone. My recent assault of the school coke dealer hasn’t helped calm the quick nerves of our scared faculty. Consequently I was informed of an open therapy session for students in our grade a few of us would be forced to attend. It had been a long month. “Jesus are you serious?” “eh shut up, and go, or you won’t play a second next year.” Well that still works I had to report to the library at two thirty in the afternoon to meet with a panel of five shrinks. As I arrived I had the kernel of thought pop, I’m going to run this mutha fucka into the ground. I skipped my brand new white red and black adidas shoes into the assembly and instantly saw my whole crew, the entire cast from the first safe house the night of Santo’s death and many others. Magic reserved a seat for me right next to his half black ass in the front row next to Monster. Before I sat down all was just too quiet.
Before seating myself I gave special dawg like pounds to the cats currently chillen that deserved recognition. Finally after a very pretentious five-minute sweep, saying all sorts of mumbled and ridiculous words I was seated. The therapists didn’t intrude on my negligence because I was sure that they’ve already been privy to the file.
Once seated a final pound to my top dawgs Magic and Monster and a twirl indicated it was time to begin. “OK I think that we’re finally ready to begin and before we start I would just like to say that we are all deeply sorrowed for” Before the next word spout from her verbal trap I begin chuckling loudly. I do this purposely. The therapists have had enough, “Carl I think that we would all appreciate a little maturity as we’re all trying to deal with this, yeah. We’re here to help. Please allow us to try and do our job. We’re hear to help, you, yeah, we’re here for you guys.” I nodded and smiled, stupid fucking place sucks anyway.
“Yeah, kids now before we start let me again convey my sorrow concerning what has happened to all of you. This is the most difficult of situations, yeah and we are here to try and understand what you all must be feeling. We simply want to try hear what your thinking, give you some tools to manage those thoughts.”
Although I want to spit out laughing at the trite professional way these house hands were attempting to mandate a situation they in my mind knew nothing about, I stayed silent slyly grinning. She continues “To start we, I mean my colleagues and I, were hoping that you students could give us a compass, yeah. What have you been feeling? What have you been doing this last week? Please try and speak freely. It will only help you and your fellow peers.” And then as if troubled, I raised my hand. The therapist thinking that the biggest problem of this assembly has become a net asset in the fact that I’m the first willing to contribute. This was a great stage. I’m about to blow it by simply telling the ho to do so.
I’m called on promptly. “Carl, great would you like to start? What have you been thinking lately?” And in all seriousness, “Well I don’t know about me, I’ve just been contemplating this whole thing lately. I don’t understand anything, anymore, you know?” I flip my hands over across my chest. The therapist is immersed in my language and replies “It’s OK Carl! It’s confusing. None of us understand we’re here to help, yeah, yeah.” As I nod understandingly I proceed with my callow indolence, “It’s just that I haven’t done anything except cry like a bitch.” The therapist was about to cum her long pants after that one.
“It’s OK to cry Carl!” “Yeah I Know, OK, well I don’t know what any of us has been doing lately, but Magic (he shoots a uncomprehending glance towards my face), well Magic been writing tons of poetry lately, it’s totally touching.” The panel of therapists think that they have hit the jackpot. As all of their faces come to light the head bitch begins nodding uncontrollably and spits out “Wow, wow that’s just great, is it Magic? Is that what they call you? Would you like to share any of what you’ve written with us? Please share, share, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!” Magic has a blank and terribly confused look on his face. He has no idea how to respond for there is no poetry (of course). I urge Magic to “Come on man don’t be shy, it’s really beautiful shit.” As the crowd all begins urging Magic the point guard de facto to share a side of himself that they hadn’t hitherto known existed, Magic snaps and shouts, “There’s no fucking poetry people, come on dude!” Now he’s laughing probably at my quick wit in making such an odd situation odder. And if touched by the hand of god, I farted. Coach Farias taught me this fall, comedy was all timing.
Magic’s face breaks out in hives, (jackpot) most of us lose it. The therapists back off and thinks that Magic is just scared to share his works with the rest of us. They want to move on but this session is already ruined. I just released gas. I love it and believe my work to be done here. I stand up and begin to shake my butt as the Young Guns begin clapping. As I prepare to walk out inspired I began acting really retarded. As I sprung up the therapist warns me that it’s not time to leave. I begin mumbling and rolling my fist in the air saying “yo, yo, yo, I’m out G. Fuck that shit, I’m bouncing, fuck this shit.” Before I leave I give selected smacks to the few folk present that I deem worthy of my exiting eternal attention. I walked out of the library and follow my nose to the student parking lot where my nasal cavity has detected the sweet smell of burning marijuana. I toke a joint, cracked a beer and feel myself to be back in my element. This was 1993. “Did you here about Magic’s poetry?” I say out loud to no one unparticular. “What?” A random delinquent responds having heard something from my direction, “Do you know Cuze in the 80’s, they drank more than beers out here, place was a fucking cocktail party.” “Dude, I know, trust me.”