On The Court With Skippy, Bootie And E-Dog.
By Tom "Big Boy" Danehy
AS I'VE MENTIONED in the past, I spend much of each Sunday in the gymnasium, still responding to the siren song of basketball after all these years. I play a couple games, ref a few, play some dominoes and basically hang out.
Besides, I think I'm just following the recipe for the Secret of Success, which states that a man should play basketball as long as his body allows him to. After that, he takes up tennis, followed in 20 years by golf and then death. My game is becoming maddeningly inconsistent, but I should be able to hang on for a few more years before I'm forced to pick up a racket and lose all my manners.
Ten years ago, there were three of us who made it a Sunday ritual--Brian, Skippy and myself. Skippy's still around most of the time, but Brian has fallen off the face of the earth. I think it's either because he turned 30 or because he bought a house. Maybe both. All I know is that when I call him and ask if he wants to play some ball, he says stuff like, "I have to do yard work."
What kind of shit is that?!
I looked it up in the Secret of Success and it said that for some really white people, yard work falls between golf and death. Heck, that means I missed his Tennis Period completely.
Skippy does his best to show up on Sundays, but he has distractions. He works for one of the airlines, so he can fly just about anywhere in the world for 10 bucks and a wink. Two weeks ago he was in the Philippines looking for a mail-order bride.
Now I don't pretend I have some special vitality which allows me to persevere while others fall by the wayside. It's simple, really. Since I don't work for a living, a Sunday in the gym is a nice break for me. People who have to work might see Sunday better spent relaxing at home. Or doing yard work.
But, ever since Brian and Skippy started getting old, I've got new friends down at the gym. They're cool if somewhat off-center.
First, there's Stew. His last name is Steward. Obviously if that's his last name, he must have a first name. I'm just not sure what it is, because nobody ever calls him anything but Stew.
Actually, I think his first name is Mikey, which wouldn't surprise me considering his background. Stew is an African-American gentleman who (get this!) was born and raised in Douglas, Arizona, and then went to high school in Newport, Rhode Island. You talk about messed up.
I locked him in a room one time and played Parliament CDs real loud for three hours. When he came out, he seemed disoriented and mumbled something about "dreadful Negro rhythms."
If you're doing a free-association word game with Stew, you say the word "police" and he comes up with "Zenyatta Mondatta." Not Rodney King, but "King of Pain."
Seriously, Stew's cool. He's a very good ballplayer and will be coaching JV boys at Green Fields this year. He also has the unnerving ability to quote from every movie ever made. Plus, he has seen Crimson Tide 473 times. He can do the Denzel Washington part real well, but being from Newport and all, he prefers being Gene Hackman.
The other day, he was telling me a story about some guy and he said, "You know, he looks like Weaps in Crimson Tide." I tried to explain to him I'd need another point of reference, having seen the film only once. He had to breathe into a bag to keep from passing out.
Stew has a friend with whom he went to high school and who sorta followed him out here to Tucson. His friend's name is Bootie. And believe me, he earned that name.
I think his real name is Albert, but Bootie is so much more appropriate. His nickname is Boutros, which is short for Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
He and Stew played ball together in high school. The thought of the two of them on Newport sends the imagination racing.
I tried to write down a sketch of Bootie's personal life, but you wouldn't believe me if I told you. Heck, Melrose Place would find it unbelievable.
Bootie recently became a father. We were all trying to come up with names for the kid. Stew thought that a traditional black name would be nice, so I suggested Car Stereo. Since they know I'm not racist, we all got a good laugh out of that. In fact, we were able to spin off from that and spent the whole day coming up with outrageous names. We're planning to release them as a book.
A day at the gym isn't always intellectually enriching, but it is always fun.
The third member of their triumvirate is E-Dog. I gave him that name a few years ago and it stuck. His real name is Ken Urdahl. He hooked up with Brian and his friend Mike Morgan a few years back when Brian was coaching at Green Fields. Ken just sorta followed Morgan around and showed up one day at the gym and never left. That's just like the way Ernie became a part of the family on My Three Sons.
So, I was trying to teach Ken how to play dominoes one day. Skippy asked him his last name. Ken said "Urdahl," but Skippy wrote down and "E" by mistake. Then Ken put on some bullshit rap tape, and I started in on him.
"You a rap dude? You got a rap name? Let's call you 'E-Dog!' "
Within a week, he was buying vanity plates with that name. You could hold a contest at the gym, offering $1,000 to whoever can guess his real name and never worry about having to pay the money.
E-Dog is now the Varsity girls basketball coach at Green Fields. He's come a long way. In fact, I offered to coach JVs for him this year and he turned me down. I'm working on a new name for him.
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