Jim Trainer

Too Skinny, Too Small by Don Bajema Chapter 2

In Uncategorized on October 6, 2013 at 10:43 am

All this makes me kind of sick. All this makes me rich. All this is why I’m standing at a window looking down at a sidewalk trapped up here. Five guys have stepped out of a pub to smoke in the freezing rain. Two of them have my name over their shoulders and my number on their chests. Today’s winner plays us on Sunday-to play us-is to play me-to play me is to risk death. Scalpers are getting five thousand a ticket. My jersey has out sold the home jerseys in every NFL city. I’m the Beatles.
Was just late last July I reported to camp, sixth round draft choice, wide receiver on a cellar team. First and third rounds also spent on wide receivers. I’m here to approximate them on the practice field and give the defense a simulation of a quality receiver with solid patterns, frightening speed and without the size to cause immediate damage on a committed hit. I’m here to make the veterans and the high choices a little nervous.
When the people back home congratulated me at the gas station and stopped me in the parking lot at the bar, slid up beside me at the grocery store, called me on the phone, nodded from behind the wheel of their car, stared at me and spoke of God at Grandma’s church all thinking I’d hit the big time-but I knew I was drafted for cannon fodder and if before I got cut I impressed an assistant coach enough to make a call maybe I could get picked up on the wire with another team weaker than this one in shiny new receivers. The money sounded good, minimum scale for a league player-if I made the team-and nobody doubted-all their hopes and dreams vicariously invested-so that they had no choice but to believe-I would. And if I did it would make me the wealthiest man from my not so affluent zip code.
So before the veterans and high draft choices reported we lower rung peckers were given little lockers in a trailer and pep talks with coaches warming up their voices and setting the tone of camp. We stayed off the main field for the most part, not chewing up the turf for the veterans and press writer magnets. I felt pretty good, my legs were fresh, fingers healed, back loose.
Then I got a chance to meet the competition, they came walking down a tunnel, carrying their gear, joshing nervously with each other, eyes averted from anyone who looked like a coach, then settling on me, wondering why I was there, being as always, too skinny and too small. When I went back to the bus to look for my ear bugs and was about to cross the parking lot with the local cameras filming the first of us Reporting To Camp a gigantic tight end, with eyes like a doe, a jaw like a pit bull, the swagger of inner city projects and the confidence of a Sure-Thing-High-Draft-Choice-Reporting-Early handed me his bag thinking I was a ball boy.
My fiancé was standing in a corner shaded beneath an oak, he glanced at her, then stared at her. She was looking at both of us, me with a smile, him over my shoulder as I walked over to see her. I turned as though I’d forgotten something on the bus. The Tight End was still looking at her then he looked at me with a snide smile. A smile she took in as part of the ‘male-female thing’ for him and disarmed to me into ‘being friendly’ and smiled right back.

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  1. […] Too Skinny, Too Small by Don Bajema Chapter 2 | Going for the Throat 10 October 2013 at […]

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