The following is based on a true story… loosely. [Editor’s note: When Tripp says “loosely,” he means “very loosely,” as in “not at all relating the reality of the actual situation.”]
To tragically misquote Robert Duvall’s character in “Apocalypse Now,” “I love the smell of napalm — and also hotdogs — in the morning.”
It may have actually been the afternoon and not the a.m., but the smell of both napalm and impossibly-processed meat products was most definitely in the air looming loudly last Saturday, when Sherry and Jim Brannon broke out the George Foreman Grill® to sell hotdogs, and also umbrellas, by the seashore, and when the Indians more or less dropped bombs on both the Red Lion boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams, by scores of 19-5 and 11-2, respectively.
Stated more simply: Saturday was a ‘Lax Day’ — is how me and the boys back in Lynchburg used to say it during our playin’ days.
A lot of serendipitous things leading to a lot of wry grins happened on that 70-degree day that finally felt like spring, and maybe even felt like it was out of a movie or somethin’, and a few of them things are these:
Alright, so I pull up to the field, kind of hungry but still in a pretty sweet mood on account of that “Bad Blood” Taylor Swift song coming over the radio and timing up perfect to me parking, almost maybe like it was out of a movie or somethin’, even, so I really don’t much mind when several of the more perceptive players on the Indian River High School girls’ lacrosse team, and also head coach Kelsea Ayers, who you may know better as “Captain Blood,” totally make fun of my new military boots that I’ve been sporting lately and that I’m marching up to the Brannons’ formerly exclusively-umbrella cart in.
“Hey, nice boots there, General,” says Sherry with a wry grin. Then she laughs, giving the impression that maybe she doesn’t think that my new military boots are nice and, in fact, just the opposite, maybe, but either way I ain’t got much time to consider, considering all the pressure-cooked pups rolling around on the G. Foreman, and all the red and yellow condiment bottles lined up on display like soldiers, and all the officially licensed Indian River High School Girls’ Lacrosse® umbrellas lined up on display like no one ever buys ’em.
“Hey, we got hotdogs,” says Jim. “How ’bout that for a ‘Tripple Overtime’ story?”
“I’ll see if I can get the movie rights,” I says. “Also, five of your most plumped pups, courtesy of the former heavyweight champ and current Meineke® muffler mogul, please.”
“Two for five dollars with chips and a drink,” says Sherry.
“All right,” I says.
Sherry hands me the dogs then grins wryly.
“How’s about an officially licensed umbrella to keep those buns dry?” she says, which, now holding the dogs, I find very frank.
“How ’bout some of that fancy mustard, the Grey Poupon® kind?” I says, and Sherry says they got some of that Dijon kind from Hocker’s, and I says, “Even better.” The boys’ game was starting up over on the field’s other side.
“You see this propane tank?” says Jim, holding it up. “This propane tank is a 100 percent guarantee of victory today. It’s a good-luck propane tank, is what it is. You can bet your new bootstraps this very same tank was burning something biblical when Penn State beat Ohio State in the Big Ten championship.”
Jim proudly shows me the Nittany Lions logo with game score on the tank. It looked like it was on its last legs.
“Well, I’ll be,” I says. “Better not tell Coach Ayers.”
“I mean to say Captain Blood,” I says.
“Oh, yeah — Captain Blood.”
I spread on some Dijon and took a bite.
“What everyone needs to know right now, exposition-wise, is that the Brannons is diehard Penn State fans and Coach A., as in Captain B., is a diehard The Ohio State University fan, after having graduated and played lax there, at the ‘The,’ and all, so, consequentially, she’s probably still sensitive when it comes to the subject of Big Ten championships and propane tanks that may or may not have had something to do with winning them.”
Sherry and Jim give me a look like I got some fancy mustard somewhere it ain’t supposed to be.
Then Sherry says: “You narrating potential ‘Tripple Overtime’ stories to yourself again?” and then I’m off to the field’s other side for the start of the boys’ game.
As I’m moseying over, I overhear Sherry tell Jim, “Be careful not to go blowin’ the place halfway to Saigon with that propane tank” and him saying somethin’ ’bout victory again.
That was dog No. 1.
Dog No. 2 gets unwrapped by the time I make it over to the boys’ game, just in time to be able to testify outside of international waters that it was Andrew White that scored the first goal of the season and that it was George “G-Mart” Martin that scored the second, right shortly after.
Then I’m wiping some mustard from my camera lens when, along the fence, I see standing there none other than Lan Martin and Chris White, who you may know better as Andrew White’s dad and G-Mart’s dad, or possibly even more better as “L-Mart” and Chris White of “Chris White State Farm Player of the Week” fame, so I mosey over and decide to get loquacious for a minute or two.
“Brannons got Big Ten-championship heavyweight franks over there,” I says, still working on wiping off the lens. “Umbrellas, too.”
“You see them goals?” they says.
“Sure did,” I says, still chewing. “How’s about them goals for some insurance?”
I guess I figure everyone’s laughter is drowned out by the commotion over at the girls’ game now startin’ up on the field’s opposite side, but just to be sure, I says: “What everyone needs to know right about now, in terms of exposition, is that the ‘insurance goals’ got some added meanin’ seeing as how y’all are affiliated with State Farm® and everything.”
They looked at me like maybe I had said the thing about exposition out loud accidentally.
“Is this one of those ‘Three Overtimes’ things or something?” they says, and then I’m off, heading over to the field’s other side again, thinking “Three Overtimes” ain’t such a bad name for a story and Three Hotdogs before the end of the first quarter ain’t such a bad idea on a Saturday Lax Day such as this one neither.
That was dog No. 2.
Dog No. 3 is: I’m moseying again when I bump into IR athletic director Todd Fuhrmann.
“The Brannons is grillin’ up good-luck dogs over there,” I says to him.
“Who are you again?” says Todd. He grinned wryly. Then he says: “Just try not to blow anything up,” before hoppin’ back on the Gator® and trying to watch both games at the same time, like I was, too, but with me not having to worry so much about people gettin’ injured or the Brannons potentially blowing up concession stands.
Denise Parks is who I mosey over to get loquacious with next, and who you may know better as the goalkeeper known as Mya Parks’ mom, or possibly even more better as the fastest gin-slinger this side of the Saigon River at the Hooked Up Ale House in Ocean View.
“You got some mustard on your face,” says Denise. “And your shirt. And also, on your camera lens.”
I’m just spotting mustard on my military boots somehow, too, when Denise says about how the girls are selling a pretty good number of raffle tickets via her at the Hooked Up Ale House in Ocean View, in order to help raise money for the program and all, but that they’re not selling so much in the way of officially-licensed umbrellas, and also “Nice boots.”
“‘Say, ‘Thanks,’” I says, and then just like that I was off again to the field’s other side and diggin’ on into Dog. No. 4.”
“Pardon?” says Denise.
“I didn’t mean to say that part out loud,” I says.
I’m halfway into Dog No. 3, when I bump into none other than Amy Hall herself, who you may know more famously as being Kaylee “K-Hall” Hall’s mom, and she’s saying about how it’s K-Hall’s first year playing, and also about how I’m getting Dijon all over pretty much everything in my general vicinity, and just as soon as she says that, in a moment every bit as serendipitously timed as a Taylor Swift chart-topper and a long drive to Dagsboro, right then, I swear I’ll be a bullfrog’s brother-in-law if K-Hall doesn’t go ahead and make her way through a whole den of Red Lions, lookin’ like somethin’ straight out of a movie, even, and certainly puttin’ the circus folk to right shame in terms of taming lions, then goes ahead and makes for her first-career goal, but the thing of it being that she somehow loses her right shoe’s fellow in the middle of it all, then goes on to cut one heck of a rug in order to celebrate, still shoeless, which, let me tell ya, was pretty much the cat’s P.J.’s in terms of dance moves and had me dropping dogs every which way.
“You get that shot?” Lincoln Davis says to me, who’s shootin’ the battle in the next foxhole over, and who you probably know more famously as the five-goal scorer Helen Davis’ dad.
I checked the camera to see.
“Musta had mustard on the lens or something,” I says.
“I got you covered,” he says, and I says, “All right, then good.”
And so, but anyway, K-Hall’s askin’ folks if they’ve seen her other shoe’s fellow, and I holster the last bit of what I’ve managed to salvage of H.D. No. 4, then mosey on over to the field’s opposite side, where I decide to dive into H.D. No. 5, rather than continue to get more than a little loquacious with whoever I end up bumping into next.
The battle starts back up with the score 10-2 in favor of the Indians, and G-Mart’s now got more goals under his belt than I’ve got dogs under mine. H.D. No. 5 is my last one — the last chopper out of Saigon, so to speak — and to tragically misquote Marlon Brando’s character from “Apocalypse Now,” “The horror… of being on your last dog.”
Lots more yelling from over at the girls’ game. The war was windin’ down, though. By the time I get back over to the field’s other side again, I’m dog-tired, so to speak, and so I decide to put my boots up right in front of the Brannon-mobile for some R&R and for the battle’s final act.
“You got any club soda for sale, by chance?” I says to Sherry, looking down at the mustard spot on my right boot’s fellow.
Sherry grinned wryly.
“Hey, does it look like rain to you?” she says.
“Hard to say,” I says. “Sure does smell like propane, though.”
I guess I musta maybe dozed off or somethin’ when Sherry started talkin’ ’bout umbrellas and sudden monsoons again, ’cause before I know it, the final buzzer’s going off like a Vietnamese war siren, and Sherry and Jim are rushin’ over to pull me up off the ground ’cause the G. Foreman’s very clearly on the fritz and now startin’ to go up in a great big cloud of smoke and lookin’ like it might even blow maybe, and then, all of a sudden, I swear I’ll be jackrabbit’s third-cousin twice removed if it didn’t do just that: the whole cart gets blasted halfway to Cambodia, practically, in this real Apocalyptic-lookin’ explosion, and there’s hotdogs and condiments and Reese’s Pieces® and pieces of the cart and officially licensed Penn State® stuff flying out everywhere, and someone — I think it was Jim — yells “Take cover!” so I start lookin’ for something to take cover with, but the thing of it is that all I can manage to find, almost serendipitously, is this officially licensed umbrella that Sherry’s been trying to sell to me since before Nixon went to China, practically, and so, but anyway, there’s nothing else to take cover with, so I grab the thing and get it opened up just in time, because the great big explosion’s coming my way, this great big wall of something biblical headed right for me, and as I get the umbrella open, the kicker of it is that the thing turns out to not be such a bad umbrella, really, after all, a nice quality to product, four stars, even, if I was to do some type of Amazon.com® review on the subject, which it almost seems like I might have time to do, considerin’ everything’s happening in that kind of super-cinematic slow-mo, with Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” playing as the movie soundtrack in my head as the great big wall’s still makin’ its way closer, and the wall’s almost here now, so I put the umbrella up as a kind of war shield of sorts, just in time, and that’s when I notice that the wall’s got this kind of yellowish tint to it, almost a Hocker’s fancy Dijon-type tint to it, even, and there’s the smell of propane in the air loudly looming, and then it dawns on me that that’s exactly what it is, as the great big wall booms and splatters everywhere, explodin’ like spiders across the night sky in Lynchburg, and gettin’ mustard all over everything except for me — me, standing there with my officially licensed Indian River High School Girl’s Lacrosse® umbrella and my brand new military boots — and when the T. Swift fades out, I look around and I swear I’ll be a polar bear’s penpal if I didn’t look right at Jim Brannon and if he didn’t resemble perfectly a crazed cave-dwelling Marlon Brandon perfectly portraying the estranged Vietnam War general Colonel Kurtz, mouthing the words: “The horror,” over and over to himself in serendipitous disbelief.
We all looked at each other for a second, standin’ there in the silence. There was a ringin’ in my ears. Sherry kicked around some hotdog rubble and looked at Jim.
“I thought you said that was a good-luck propane tank,” she says.
Jim sighed before sayin’, “I’ll ask Chris White if they’ve got some kind of hotdog-cart insurance over there at State Farm®.” [Editor’s note: No actual good-luck hotdogs or excessively-eponymous frankfurter cooking appliances were harmed in the making of this column. But having insurance when around certain run-on-sentence-prone Coastal Point sports columnists is nonetheless highly recommended. (Editor’s-note note: We are not insurance salespersons, but we do play them in print.)]
I don’t know if I was shell-shocked or what, but we somehow manage to get the place fixed back enough before Captain Blood finally moseys her way over for a post-game interview and before Todd’s any the wiser to the whole propane-and-mustard-exploding-thing of it all.
“Got any hotdogs left?” says Blood.
Sherry shakes her head that no.
“There was… an incident,” says Jim, with the Brando look on his face again.
“Place looks like a warzone,” says Blood.
“I don’t think anything made it,” Jim says. “It’s all gone.”
Sherry kicked around some of the leftover rubble for a while. Then suddenly she looked towards me, grinning wryly.
“We still got umbrellas,” she says.
“Yeah,” says Captain Blood. “We’ve always still got umbrellas.”
“Say,” I says to Sherry. “How much for this umbrella I got here?”
Sherry grinned wryly.
“Two for five dollars with chips and a drink,” she says.
“Well, I’ll be,” I says.
Captain Blood went off after that, probably to get the team started on some post-victory wind sprints or something, and me and Sherry and Jim sat back to take a look at the scoreboard and the post-apocalyptic warzone as it began to rain.
“19-5 and 11-2. What a blood bath,” Jim says. “Sure should make for some ‘Tripple Overtime’ this week.”
“Sure made for some Saturday Lax Day,” I says, opening up my brand new umbrella and already narrating the thing in my head again. Then I says, “Still smells like hotdogs, don’t it?”
“Smells like propane,” says Sherry.
Jim paused for a second before looking down at the charred Penn State Nittany Lions logo on what was left of the exploded propane tank. Then he looked over at the scoreboard flashing 11-2 and grinned wryly.
“No,” he said. “Smells like victory.”