That's Something You Don't See Every Day, Chauncey

Watch me pull a rabbit outta my hat!

Posts Tagged ‘detailed flashbacks’

None of this has happened yet.

Posted by kozemp on September 14, 2017

I remember a night, many years ago, when Nick and I were at the Cherry Hill Diner.

I can’t imagine what we were doing there of all places – the only thing I can think of is that we must have been at the Loews for a movie, but even that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I want to say this was somewhere around 2008, give or take a year or so either way. I think Reg was in Arkansas, but when Nick and I were out late while she was gone we were usually much farther away than that.

When I wasn’t bitching about women or cards, we usually talked about soccer. It was different back then, before the sport seemingly was everywhere overnight; it was still an oddity you shared with your friends behind other people’s backs, like a secret society. Your main source of information back then, ironically enough, was a video game: FIFA taught me more about who was where in soccer more than years of staring myself blind at the BBC website ever did.

In my experience, a lot of the soccer fans I know have little satellite teams. You have your main side, the team you watch every week – or as much as your schedule allows, as we get older – but there are a couple you keep your eyes on, checking out the scores or the news to see what’s going on.This, also, comes as much from FIFA as anything. I support a fourth-division side in England called Cheltenham Town because when I first started playing the game you had to start your career with a lower-league team and work your way up, and I saw the list of possibilities and said “there’s a Cheltenham here, let’s go with them.” I’ve known Arsenal fans who also loved Real Betis in Spain and Chelsea supporters who are die-hard Napoli fans. There’s more than enough to go around; you could have a team in every league if you wanted.

I’ve tried to explain this to traditional American sports fans and, again in my experience, they usually seem to recoil in horror at the idea. It does not help that eventually I will get frustrated and try to explain why it’s okay with the phrase “Liet serves two masters,” which apparently has far less cultural penetration that soccer ever did.

That night at the Cherry Hill Diner, after we ate we were standing in the parking lot talking about the upcoming season, and who we’d like to see in the Champions League – this was, as I recall, a digression from a conversation about the European sporting concept of “fairness,” sarcasm quotes intended – and how both of us would like to see the competition widened rather than concentrated among the top teams.

“You know who I want to see in the group stages?” Nick said.

I said, half-joking, “Sheriff Tiraspol!”

Nick said, “yes!” and laughed.

Sheriff Tiraspol is a soccer team in Moldova that was founded by a police officer in the late 90s. Their team crest is literally a sheriff’s badge. I knew all of this from a combination of seeing them in FIFA and scouring Wikipedia during my downtime. I was enamored of this team from a city of 129,000 in Moldova – smaller than Cedar Rapids and four thousand miles farther away – because I had run into them a couple times in a video game, and their name was “Sheriff,” and I’d learned that they had a solid black away kit. I like solid black soccer kits, to a point that I once even looked at a black Liverpool shirt with something less than scowling distaste. I look good in black, after all.

Nick and I expressed as much to each other, though he wasn’t into the black away kit like I was. To date Sheriff still hasn’t made the group stage proper of the Champions League, though they’ve done well in some qualifiers and usually make a little noise in the Europa League every year.

Looking at LiveSoccerTV this morning I saw that their Europa League game against Fastav Zlin (a team from a Czech town of 75,000) was on one of the streaming services, and I could get a free trial and watch the game.

Ten years ago the odds of sometehing like this being televised anywhere in this country were almost zero. Jack Keane at Nevada Smith’s in New York might somehow be able to work his satellite magic and get it on a single TV or a laptop somewhere, but that was it, and if you got that there’s a good chance the picture quality would be so bad you wouldn’t be able to tell one side from the other. Whole teams and whole leagues were basically imaginary things that lived only on Wikipedia pages and video games and club websites in foreign languages. They almost weren’t real.

But now a team from Moldova is playing a team in the Czech Republic, on my big screen TV in my own living room in my own house, in high definition. The picture is so good I can see individual raindrops falling. I’m sitting here now, ten years or so later, actually watching Sheriff Tiraspol play for the first time.

They’re even wearing their black kit.

Before the show got ahead of the books, I used to joke with Game of Thrones fans who only watched the show that I could tell them what was going to happen and they wouldn’t believe me. I think it would be even more amusing to go back to that parking lot in the middle of the night a decade ago and tell ten-years-ago Me and ten-years-ago Nick what was going to happen.

I want to see the looks on their faces when I tell them I’m sitting here in the house I took on from my parents, with a random European soccer game on in the background and clear as day while I work remotely at a job I couldn’t have even imagined existed ten years ago, and Nick is watching his three year old son and two week old daughter in a house where my father played cards with his father-in-law when they were teenagers.

I want to tell them that even though on this particular day it’s just a soccer game on TV, and even though there’s a whole lot of terrible shit going on everywhere around them, living in the future is pretty fucking amazing.

Also, right before I pop back to the future, I’ll tell them Jon Snow dies and comes back to life.



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CLASSIC: How is this MY fault?

Posted by kozemp on November 22, 2011

On my way to work every morning there is a light – at Ryan Avenue and the Boulevard, for those inexplicably keeping track of my route to work – that I have actually successfully driven through without stopping I believe four times in my entire life. It’s one of those weird things. It’s an intersection I end up at approximately 800 times a week, since you have to go through it to go essentially anywhere that isn’t Center City. And I always get stuck at it. It’s one of those things you get used to.

This morning, for whatever reason – Monday is usually the lightest traffic day of the week – the wait at the light was much, much longer than usual, stretching back a solid three blocks. While I was sitting there, for some reason, I had a flashback to another time I was sitting in traffic, although that one was much more weird and scary.

Many years ago me and a friend of mine, let’s call him… say… “Patrick” decided to go to Boston for a long weekend to visit a friend of ours who had recently moved there. For some reason – this part is hazy, it may have possibly been because I didn’t have a car at the time – Patrick was going to drive us up there on a Friday afternoon. This was a spectacularly bad idea for any number of reasons, the foremost among which is that Patrick was (and to an extent still is) completely incapable of successfully driving anywhere without laser-guided telemetry to get him there. The first time he tried to go to my house when we were in college he ended up at a bowling alley 21 miles past my house. TWENTY ONE MILES.

Boston, if you’ve never driven it, is roughly a six hour drive from here. Patrick picked me up at noon. We arrived at our friend’s apartment on Beacon Hill at 10:30PM.

Here’s how you make it take ten and a half hours to get to Boston:

First, you have someone drive you who, I am fairly certain, cannot always discern their right from their left. Then you have this person make only a cursory glance at a road atlas and think that this road here, yeah, 95, sure, that can take us the whole way, right?

So, instead of taking (if I’m remembering correctly) the New Jersey Turnpike up PAST New York City to… the Merritt Parkway? I honestly forget… you take the Turnpike INTO New York City and try to cross the GW and hack your way through the Bronx and suburban Connecticut on 95. Now years before we had them here they had those giant LCD signs on 95 in Connecticut, and once we get across the GW (elapsed bridge time: 45 minutes) and finally get moving, the sign says “HEAVY TRAFFIC APPROACHING DARIEN, CT”

When we see that sign Patrick begins rummaging in the space behind the seats with his right hand. Eventually he pulls out a map and says words that, to this day, echo in my nightmares:

“Find us a better way.”

I find what I think is a way for us to get to the Merritt Parkway without undue distress. This, of course, does not happen. After taking the first exit we can, Patrick first turns west, i.e. AWAY from Boston, and after much screaming we finally make it onto this OTHER highway which is, of course, at a dead stop.

“This is all your fault,” Patrick says.

“How is this MY fault?” I neglect to mention that the actual route entirely is my fault, but it’s inconsiderate to distract the driver.

“We were MOVING on 95,” Patrick says.

“Fucking turkeys,” I say.

“I, ah… I’ve never heard traffic described that way.” Patrick sounds confused.

“No,” I say, pointing at a flock of wild turkeys on the highway embankment. “Turkeys. Over there.” Like 20 turkeys just sitting around watching the traffic. This is my first ever exposure to the state of Connecticut and between turkeys and traffic I am unthrilled to say the least.

“That’s something you don’t see every day.”

“I don’t get stuck on a random highway in the middle of Connecticut every day either.”

“Shut up.”

At this point we’ve been in the car for maybe three hours. Eventually we get to a point where what we’re on is moving and it is determined -rightly or wrongly – that we need to get back onto 95. There is some kind of highway spur that goes to 95 through New Haven, which at that point I understood to be a slightly dingier place than Hell.

Traffic has been moving for a while and we’re on this spur back to 95 when Patrick turns to me and says – I swear to God these were his exact words because they will be burned into my brain until the day I die – “I don’t want to alarm anyone, but we don’t have any brakes.”

Despite Patrick’s attempts to the contrary I am considerably alarmed.

We manage to limp off the highway and into a Pep Boys that was INCREDIBLY conveniently located right off the exit. It is now 5:30 in the afternoon on a Friday (5 and a half hours to New Haven, BTW). The mechanics have all gone home. The people working at the Pep Boys are telling us that we can leave the Jeep there and someone could possibly look at it Saturday morning, but that it’s also possible the sun could explode on Saturday morning and the two things are about AS possible, and more than likely it will be Monday before someone looks at the brakes.

My vacation weekend in Boston is rapidly turning into my weekend sitting in a motel across the street from a Pep Boys in New Haven (which, until I would go to Los Angeles a few months later, was at that point the Worst Place On Earth I Had Ever Seen). Patrick is talking to the people at the service desk – god knows what he’s talking about – and they’re firmly saying no sir, we can’t call in one of our mechanics, but there’s a lovely Motel 6 just down the block when I notice a guy leaving the store with like 4 bags of auto parts.

I run outside and stop him in the parking lot. “Are you a mechanic?” I ask, desperate. He is. I ask him if he would PLEASE PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE OH GOD HELP US I’M GOING TO DIE IN NEW HAVEN just look under the hood of Patrick’s jeep and let us know if there’s something immediate we can do.

This is how much I know about cars. I think the brakes are under the hood.

The guy actually agrees, opens the hood , and after approximately four and a half seconds says “you’re out of brake fluid.”

“That’s it?” I ask.

“That’s it. Cost you five bucks and you’re back on the road.”

“Wow. Thanks.”

The mechanic – aka The Nicest Man I Have Ever Met – walks away smiling. I go back into the Pep Boys to find Patrick now with approximately half of his upper body leaning across the counter, his feet now barely touching the floor, pleading with the person at the service counter. I consider letting him debase himself a little further before I remember that he is actually my friend and could, were he so inclined, leave me in New Haven.

“Come on,” I say, grabbing his arm and pulling him away from the service desk. “I took care of it. We need brake fluid.”

“You TOOK CARE OF IT? What does that MEAN?” he asks.

“Just find a couple bottles of brake fluid and let’s get the fuck out of here.”

“What does TOOK CARE OF IT mean? What did you DO?”

Knowing him and knowing me I imagine Patrick assumes I, Jack Bauer-like, tortured a perfect stranger into diagnosing the car. I tell him what actually did happen.

“Brake fluid? That’s it?” he asks.

“That’s it.”

He pauses, then says, “we’re really fucking stupid.”

“No,” I say, “we’re smart, we just don’t know anything about cars. There is no shame in that.”

I resist the urge to tell the story of the first time I tried to put motor oil in my car and put it in the transmission.

“We know what BRAKE FLUID is, for god’s sake. I mean, we’ve HEARD of it.”

This argument essentially went on for the remaining five hours it took to get from New Haven to our friends apartment, 90 minutes of it spent actually IN Boston looking for it. Because calling someone from the Virgin Islands to help you navigate around a city he’s lived in for like 3 months and never actually driven a car in – that, my friends, is intelligent behavior at its best.

As for what happened in Boston, well, that’s another story, innit? Another long, sad story…


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