I’ve got a very good friend of mine that claims that this is indeed true. He claims he got the saying “Good things rarely happen after midnight” from his wise old grandmother. Since I’d never met her, it meant little or nothing to me. In retrospect, I kind of wish I had taken heed of her words. It might have saved me some embarrassment.
I think it was about a month or so ago when this happened – the exact date isn’t all that important and to tell the truth, the events aren’t either. It’s just a story that might be worth telling.
If you’re like me and a have preponderance or inclination to take a drink or two every now and then, you might, just might, find yourself telling tall tales and stretching the truth here and there. Facts become fuzzy or bent and the art of exaggeration and bluster seems to take on a whole new dimension.
For me, those acts and those arts are usually centered around the glory days of my youth. Mostly, they entail the re-living of moments and deeds performed in the field of sports and other assorted athletic ventures. I guess there’s some saying somewhere that goes along the lines of “you know you’re getting old when all you can do is talk about the past”. If there isn’t, there should be.
Anyway, to put this in perspective, I’m a football nut. Always have been and the way things are going, it looks like I always will be. I await the opening of both college football and the NFL seasons much like a five year old awaits the coming of Christmas. To top it off, many of my friends share my passion and it’s become somewhat of a ritual for us to get together at the local watering hole and cheer on our favorite teams. Since some of these teams might differ, a friendly rivalry has evolved and good natured ball breaking is the rule rather than the exception.
So there we were, huddled over our favorite beverages, either yelling insults at the television or high fiving each other depending on the events that were transpiring on the screen. A field goal kicker from my team blew a relatively short one and naturally I was disgusted. ‘Member I said something earlier about glory days? These were the words that escaped my lips.
“I coulda made that fuckin’ thing naked at midnight”
My friends, being the buddies that they are and sensing a good story or event in the making, began giving me shit about my bold statement. As more drinks were consumed, the razzing became more intense and since I was pretty fortified by alcohol, I was determined to stick to my guns. The hours seemed to whistle by and I think some of the other patrons were getting a little tired of our schtick. The time to either prove it or to shut the fuck up had come. A football was soon produced from the trunk of somebody’s car and waved in my face. After a few minor protestations on my part that were greeted with what could only politely be called derision, we decided to head to the local field and put my manhood to the test.
Did I happen to mention that it was a dark and stormy night? It’s true. There were thunderstorms throughout the day and the nighttime sky was still being kissed by flashes of lightning as three of us left the bar and piled into a car to embark upon our quest. Hollywood couldn’t have asked for a better script.
It was a short drive to the field, maybe five or six blocks at best, and I sat in the backseat wondering just what the hell I had gotten myself into. We got out of the car and I thought I might have been given a reprieve and that the gods had somehow decided to intervene on my behalf. The gates to the field were locked.
All except for the last one. It was as if the groundskeeper had somehow conspired with my buddies to gave me a flicker of hope and that I would return to the bar with my head held high and my ego intact. Alas, it was not to be.
The three of us threw the ball around for a little while until one of them asked me if I was gonna do it or not.
The yardage was set at thirty and in my good days I could usually hit from anywhere between forty and forty five on a consistent basis. I took some solace in that but then when I looked up at the goalposts, thirty yards might as well have been thirty miles.
I stripped down to the bare essentials and asked my friends if I could keep a sneaker on my plant foot. Being sticklers for details, they informed me that a sneaker was an article of clothing and that my boast would be corrupted if I was allowed to keep it on. As a compromise, they said I could have three attempts. If I made one, my boast would stand. I thought to myself, so be it.
One of my friends got under the goalpost to judge whether the kick was going to be good or not. He was the lucky one. The other one had to hold the ball for me and watch as my boys came dangerously close to his face as I attempted the kick. Given the wet grounds, there was a distinct possibility that I might lose my footing and we might have had an encounter we hadn’t planned on. If that happened, I’m thinking the story might have been left on the field.
My first attempt was feeble at best, the flight of the ball never rose over ten feet and I shanked it left. The laughter started but I was determined.
My second attempt wasn’t much better. I had tried to compensate but this one sort of dribbled off to the right. The laughter got louder but I just gritted my teeth and tried to figure out what I was doing wrong.
The third and last attempt was easily my best. When the ball left my toe it felt good. I knew it had the height to clear the posts but the distance was another thing entirely. I looked up and followed the path of the ball, I offered up a silent prayer to whatever football gods might be listening. I implored them to make my aim true and that I would be embraced as a conquering hero upon my return.
The ball fell at least seven yards short…
By now, my friends were laughing their asses off and I gotta admit, so was I. Realizing we were making a lot noise for such a late hour, we decided to get the hell out of Dodge before we attracted the attention of the local authorities. I put on my clothes and we hustled to the car and made our way back to the bar. It was about 12:30 when we made our way back through the door.
With my tail between my legs, I humbly admitted my failure. I became the butt of good natured jokes and drinks were bought all around. I think we wound up closing the place down.
Over time, the story has become somewhat of a little legend in our little oasis. Like most bar stories, it’s been told and re-told many, many times and gone through many variations. For awhile, it took on a life of it’s own and strangers and loose acquaintances would come up and ask me for the details. I usually try and tell it with a laugh and smile and a toast. The night the old fart tried to recapture the days gone by. It’s just one of life’s little things you can’t live down.
These days, whenever I tell it, I look at my watch or the bar clock. I’m trying to make it home by 11:30.