Time, it’s the funniest, forever fixed and only aspect of life we all must deal with. The game of life, I was learning more than I could emotionally handle. I'd taken the oft, never taken road of an education like I viewed my lawnmower accident, a blessing. My people skills were off the charts. I could relate to anyone, I was inclusive, protective, crazy and self-deprecating in front of adults. And that gift was comedy, heart and oh yeah ears. The ears are attached to your heart, you just can't see it. It's funny when and why someone truly decides to listen especially kids. I knew addiction was all's I had to worry about outside of the law and school administration. But I was starting to crack.
I don’t give a fuck can only see you through so, well, you know. The only benefit to all of this ironically was the mental institute up the street, way before Girl Interrupted we were all scared shit pants of Mclean’s Hospital. Just driving past en route to one of the few “packies” that we could buy beer at, I’d become, well, anxious. My #1 fear, the looney bin. I’d scream, “Scully go, go dude! Hit the gas get the fuck away from that thing.” as if it was the Death Star. And for Skeetah, Stanger and whatever other beats happened in the ride a fair amount of amusement was enjoyed from all of this. “Carl, what’s fucking wrong with you kid? Are you all there dude! You fucking kidding me kid?” A raucous laugh, Skeetah, whose decision making had recently, in my own medical opinion made him suicidal, asks again as the joint roared along in that special moment when the prefect jam magically ordained the radio, the last piece to the puzzle of a moment. "I don't know why sometimes I get frightened." Split Endz. The Song. “Dude!” Skeetah would interuppt, “Scully, gas!” I whined like a blue eyed two tear old in search of his baby whites the happiness continued, “This kids got problems dude" Said by the kid with the most or as many, "it must be his ADD or something.” Oh yes the ADD. My favorite subject. And as Skeetha held court of his own happiness which in Astori meant an escape from thoughts needing dire attention, we cried tears of humor. Youth was a huge chip we held along with the white and Madison chips we did OK. My friends could laugh at me anytime.
On the vinyl my panic attacks were everyone’s favorite episode. Most knew everyone had heard, my mother and I, the pills and delirum, it's where I'd learned my entire comedy act. The Big Guy helped refine it. My mother and I were always very public with our problems taking free therapy for lack of a better phrase wherever and whenever we could find it. It' s just us.<P>
Just last year I’d discovered along with my sister and a collection of classic characters from the legendary class of 88 that, panic attacks, had in fact become fashionable. I'd ride it for a decade so many years ahead of the curve. The key to Wall St and that of life, ahead of trends, powerful indeed.
It cracked me up. I played the role loved these pills unlike Ritalin I chose to take on my own. But this was different, Mclean’s hospital my sister and I had seen a few kids we knew well, poof, gone. Before basketball that was my check. The one fear that kept me from not acting completely retarded all the time. The pills to shut off your brain, I’d never escape. But tonight my focus was easing, my ADD was erased, I had something to live for. And in my corner of the world this was big. It was still our time. I was only sixteen. And tonight’s Young Gun’s championship reminded me of that, and my blue eyes, blonde hair, high cheekbones and vicious Michael Jackson Smooth Criminal dance impersonation cemented the unlimited upside on good days I knew I possessed. I thanked Jesus I was happy, honestly happy for the fuirst time since Santo had passed.
Time and it fucks with you as a kid until your appreciate it as an adult. It only goes faster so you should pray you don’t get in a rut. You’ll fall behind, life will pass you by. At least that’s what my father would say. And he was right. And maybe all of these bad things were happening to all us because my lack of respect was unholy to everyone around us. I’d ration it was all tongue and cheek humor and shrug it all off with my personal ace in the hole, their white, in Astori everyone will be fine. It was Spec and Black I worried about.
It kept me from being truly happy. Not anymore, in the shower I started interviewing myself and I knew we were back, and that was big. Not ashamed to interview yourself, huh, maybe we are back. But I couldn’t believe Santo was dead. It still slaughtered me thinking about the panic of my own lawnmower accident and what he must’ve went through down to the very last second. The situation Santo was in. How quickly shit flipped on him. And what his parents and sister are dealing with, forced to endure. It killed me in a way that now in August had surprised me. I was too close. It wasn’t fair. Santo was one of our lions. He bought in, the gang, the Young Guns, loyalty and emotionally challenged by the nature of our good looks and nationalistic mayham as it applied to our tighly guarded group. It felt like war. It was us against them. My family of friends vs. whoever. More than ever there were no limits to my loyalty.
And I’d lost a general. In some small way I’d have a thousand people to show what that’s like and who we really were tonight. I stared in the mirror for a half hour before Magic set to scoop. I still however could not block it out no matter how hard I tried. That night. April 3rd, Black ice, Nor Easter, Young Gun, final four. Upper classmen. #1 ranked in the Globe all day two years in a row. Love, time, glass, cars, pain, practice, time, help, Stretch, a bang, a cry, horror, intelligence, career, sister, parents, Young Guns, pussy, the rim, music, my dreams, why, fuck. It was fucking with me. I couldn’t think of it any other way. But it was fucking with everyone and I wasn’t special. Monster would often remind me, “strength in numbers.” He was right. This was about something much more than support.
Time was now and I couldn’t think of a better two hours than what was right in front of me. It was the summer of 93. It was before the Internet before Columbine before the turn of the century the kids of the 80’s high schooling (Lex Vegas) in the early 90’s had yet again opened it up. You can’t tell a rich kid nothen. And perhaps, what I loved the most was the hate they’d all be there tonight. Everyone that ever hated me would be attendance, and I do mean hate. The hate I attracted my Young Guns loved. The following I had adored. The character I decided that night I would now be playing full time, the hero and the villian.
The hate I attracted like honey and bees were all older tough guys and behind them various popular rich kids spanning generations. It made me a leader of our Young Guns. The first high school team we’d ever seen play in the esteemed Astori Summer League finals. I took on any and everyone. And these were my guys, my teammates, and best friends in the same grade since my first memory here back in the 2nd grade after leaving Wareham MA after my curious case of the riding lawnmower. And I was now cocky looking at the lights loving the fact I no longer shot in the dark. I did this. The Young Guns did this, our hard work and passion. Fuck everyone. I began driving myself irrational game time.
Magic and I wanted to play in the summer league just about as much as we wanted to be in the Jackson 5. And here we were now starring bigger than ever. The size of the crowd ballooned guilt unable to shake my early thoughts of eternal attention. But this game a devilish grin on the heaven tip. This was more than a summer league game. It was a Thursday in August. The day before championship Friday at the last Farias camp we’d ever coach. A beloved aspect to our story and childhoods, we’d once again honor snato's memory by wearing his trademark argyle + sock ties with khaki shorts tomorrow on championship Friday @ camp. A huge day to Magic, Scully, Goldy, Spec, Wells and myself. It was game time. The towns center courts and teenage girls were everywhere. As Magic would say, “hey C, we’re an event.” Shrugging it off confidently past the point in our own pages where we had to fake such a golden principal. And as the crowd settled and the opening “tap” loomed I strutted the sidelines kissing my lovers of people and thumbs downing rich, typically older white kids aka the status quo. The Young Guns loved this. It gave us all added swagger. It fueled our purpose and inclinations. I loved pushing unsustainably like this, basketball was different, no one could get hurt. Thank you Jesus our time, I smiled wryly.
After layup lines as custom in varsity game we shot 3’s, stretched and rebounded for each other. I jumped up off two feet for show and grabbed the rim with two hands for attention. I’d been doing it since January. It was a testament to strength shoes. Bobby Hurly SR. I hung up there like a badge of honor letting go and allowing the dunks from our big men to follow. After that, yeah I felt better, I’d never wanted anything more in my life. I looked back at the crammed hillside and saw a trio of slinky teenagers get up and off the Big Guy’s bench. It belonged to the Big Guy. He’d arrived. The only bench at the center courts, I knew you would never miss this.
The Rebels: Our opponents, they were older, stronger and most importantly legends, ex-varsity captains, gods to us and the match up taught me right there that’s what the finals were all about. Now the Rebels with their smooth guard play and maroon and white mesh reversible tanks packed a cast consisting of now mostly college seniors.
I stroked the embers of their legend, their titles, their girls, their parties, their swagger and wild, wild high school nights. The only guys I ever looked up to besides the best of the best to ever come out of one of the best programs in the long history of our fair state of Massachusetts. We came from a town of privilege and for some paradoxical reason championship basketball teams. And finally it was here. Basketball, they came to see us, and God and Jesus, I’m back into both of you mutha fuckers. I say this as I grunt, pant, and continually hug my Young Gun teammates. So much was on the line. I know they laughed at our spirit. After all, this was a summer league game, what's wrong with me? The five hundred fans suggessted something else. Our opponents knew us all since we were little. And ever since we were freshmen deplored what they had perceived as an idiotic break from the social norm rooted in a continued color confusion on the part of the kid.
But you can’t front on a following and as our legions of friends overflowed the set, I saw my sister Brooke, her boyfriend Des, I nodded l;ocking eyes with my mentor and sister, our time is now. It was on. Our old gang drummed up the chants. Beautiful girls everywhere upped the ante. Goose bumps sponged my arms in glorious pop. Younger campers look upon us starry eyed as we brought it in, donning our now ubiquitous black armbands around our calves. I’d been doing it since freshmen year far ahead of its time as a nod to sport fashion. I had enough game to back something out of the box something questionable and cocky especially back then. And now we all wore them. And so did the campers. We’d all coached the second installment of the Big Guy’s summer camp starting on Monday. It was August. And every night we’d dance, advance our thetare. We'd win and coach the kids the next day. And now it was Thursday. It was the finals. And a hundred campers with their parents were present with self-made Young Gun jerseys and black armbands around their calves. We had half a dozen water boys. It’s our time.
Bursting with confidence night was upon us and as the courts big lights click themselves all officially “on” revealing swarms of mosquitoes, the only shining spot in the somewhat dark summer air was the first main court in the heartfelt center of Madison, MA, America jack. If they mean to have war let it begin here. I never went to classes. I didn’t get good grades. I didn’t say or write things grammatically correct but we were all spoon fed American history. The revolution started on our center green. The whistles blew. Coach Sullivan was one of three refs. He’d call it fair. He’d been a part of some of the greatest finals ever played on these summer courts. Games before we were born. People were jockeying for sight lines because the whistle meant no one was bulging for the next thirty minutes until halftime. And we brought it in one final time. We brought it fucking in. You could smell the weed smoke in the air. Juvenile delinquents were always our vehicles.
YG Huddle: “SANTO!” It’s so classic that we’re here.” “Let’s go” “Young Guns!” “Us Us Us Us!”
Santo, we felt his presence it was all for Santo, like Hank Gathers, Reggie Lewis we’d lost another hero but this time it wasn’t March Madness but it was, and it wasn’t on TV but it was, it wasn’t Hank Gathers it was Santo dude, our brother and teammate. The crowd rocked mockery and volume as the norm however became so exaggerated it seemed like a West Hollywood film set, Santo. I’d accepted Santo was not going to come back and with that conceded life was over, and now with the kids, campers fusing the spark, in the game we treasured the most, Summer league run and local bragging rights I was already thankful. “How you boys feel?” I asked screaming at the top of my lungs fueling excitement and a break.