The Trophy

I’m due a trophy. Or, at the very least, a sincere apology. Sounds rather harsh in my head as I type those very words, but hey, truth is truth.

Well, maybe a nice dinner with a great friend … on him, anyway.

I’m either bitter about it , or pointy-toed, Ektelon dragons of imagination were visiting unnecessary memories upon my soul. Of a racquetball tournament gone horribly wrong is that which I opine. Swearing and sweating all these sleepless nights wondering why … why…WHY? Shelves full of trophies … bowling, business, … accomplishments abound my blessed life as I have slovenly slaved my last breath many times through that final push. Failure? Yes. But bootstraps always at the ready. Expected friend-fairness in the midst of life’s whacks? Yes. Willing to cede a well-done, “supposed”, equal tournament? Yes. Adult enough to stand second, even third, on a podium … supporting a great friend in his moment of,… err uhm…, victory? Sure, why the hell not. Able to drive home in a great mood wondering what the F**K just happened? Absolutely!!

I want my damn trophy! Ok. I’m bitter. 🤣🙄

You need a back story. There kinda isn’t one, but I’ll give you an edited version: I was systematically, methodically, underhandedly, schneidedly, gooberlistically, maleficently, mathematically robbed of my moment … by my best friend. He’ll claim the math gods did it. I don’t believe him. Why? Because he is still in possession of what is rightfully mine. The damn trophy.

We met in college. Both sons of wrestling coaches, our stories came together as easy as two grapplers meeting on the mat. I didn’t follow through with my less-than stellar wrestling high school career because counting ceiling tiles didn’t seem a good income source. My friend, however, was less likely to have a choice. His dad coached the college team and was – shall we say – ‘influential” in choosing his son’s extra-curricular, sweat-singlet activities.

In between my music rehearsals and non-studying times … and my friend’s what-ever he dids, we whacked a lot of racquetballs. A lot. Morning, noon, night … weekends, whenever. Didn’t matter. We were entranced by the echoes in a chamber made between three solid walls and a plexiglass ping-panel across the back.

This room with a wooden floor that squeaked and spoke, walls having the scars of racquets and balls, and stale, heavy air that carried laughter over and over again for us remains, for me, one of the best memories of my college years. With my friend.

Our other-than-raquetball friendship grew into pizza eats, living together, talking out life’s inevitable in-our-20’s problems, standing in each other’s weddings, pets, careers, parent deaths, kids, ….

So, that’s the Hallmark version. Boy meet boy. Friends for life. Yadda yadda. Why now? Why bring up the bitterness ESPECIALLY after JUST yesterday so craftily writing about NOT being bitter? 🤔 I have my reasons. After a rather lengthy respite, my dear friend and I talked on the phone yesterday … and he upset my emotional racquetball cart. Reminding myself, as I am so apt to do, that I am still a-kilter over the slight I was awarded … not the trophy. Quick to point this out, I promised my great and “victorious” friend a blog expressing my woe. As an aside, I believe my grief therapist would approve as well🤣.

Here’s my beef, if it pleases the sweaty court:

Tournament, due to weather or some such event, had three entrants; A B and C. Now, don’t judge me here. It was STILL a legit competition!! For the sake of ease, I’m A, my “most excellent” friend is B, and goober no-name guy is C (doesn’t really matter)… There may have been a D … not sure.

A(me), handily I might add here, beats B(mpfh), B goes off slightly upset because he recognized superior play of A. A plays C – tight match, ends up split, or edge to C. B plays C. B wins – or so claims …. never saw score. Sketchy to this day. Final result? “B” got a applause and accolades from four people in the lobby drunk on Gatorade….oh, and a trophy. I got nothin’. Somehow, after all the dust and sweat settled, I came in last place. Mr. B, whose points I was still tallying up against on infinity’s hands, was awarded 1st place as I, the victor in my match again him, was stuck with nothin’…

Well … not nothin’. The right to have my dragons haunt me year after year is what I got. Year after bruised ego year.

I’m ok with the way things are though. I R-rre-ally am. No stuttering or bb-itternes left over at all. Writing about it today is helping me deal with the pain because I know my dear friend is reading this, counting his pennies, looking forward to buying me that nice juicy steak once this virus stuff goes away. I deserve it from him.

So comforting it will be … seeing him walk into the restaurant carrying what’s rightfully mine, setting it on the table beside a bottle of the finest wine (he’s also paying for) and saying, “Doug, my dearest of friends, I know you’ve been bitter about this a long time. I want you to accept this trophy. I’m so sorry. You’re the best, man.”

To which I’ll reply, “Nah, you keep it. I’m good.”

That’s how most excellent friends roll.

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