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Monday, January 14, 2002

At Ease

We were mired in the rubber match of a three-game Euchre melee when the army-dressed man clumped down the stairs. His combat boots made a distinctive knock on the old wooden stairs. It was about the only thing that kept us from calling trump and finishing that game.

MD was home...at least for the time being.

MD is the friend who joined the National Guard at age 35, got married, then got called up shortly thereafter. His hair is High and Tight, his wife is in Atlanta, he's at Ft. Bragg. He had a weekend and he chose to meet his wife here in the Upstate for a weekend of fun.

The weekend was the kind I still live for. It wasn't fall-down-in-the-gutter drunk, stumble-out-of-a-bar-at-sunrise debauchery. But it was a weekend of dinners, hockey games (including some embarassing interaction with the Trenton Titans...more on that in a minute), and general fun.

Although I write this at my own peril (and I really don't want to do this, because it was quite embarassing), I kicked it old school at our little minor league hockey game Saturday night.

In college I was part of a group of guys known as The Antlers. We specialized in heckling and were pretty damned good at it. When my PR Hack friend T got us tickets on the glass at the hockey game, we thought it would be fun. So, we went and I decided it might be a good opportunity to see if I still had it in me.

Hockey is not the easiest place to heckle. Glass divides the Heckler from the Player and it makes it difficult to get one's point across. Fortunately, we sat right next to the opposing team's tunnel. There was a little space between the glass and some sort of fabric tunnel they pull out to protect the players.

I was into a guy named O'Brien. He had a smug look that I didn't quite like. I've always been a big fan of getting into one player and not letting up. I started off by telling him I was talking to his mom the other night and went from there.

The game ended well. Overtime. Shootout. The Grrrowl wins.

As O'Brien skated into his tunnel, I shoved my face into that little opening and broke into a good "Mama Closer."

He stopped and looked at me. I always love it when that happens.

"You paid to watch me play tonight," he said with that smug look.

I was just about to tell him I didn't actually pay and he didn't play that well...when one of the other Titans put his body into the tunnel glass and slammed the corner of it into my jaw.

I stumbled backward and the redneck in me kicked in. I went back hard, throwing my hands into the glass.

The Titans skated out and the security guy got mad at me.. Told me I shouldn't be talking to the other players.

Granted, I am far out of my heckling prime and maybe I should just grow up. But, as the creed goes..."Once an Antler, always an Antler, pre-born to be an Antler, and Antler until the end of the universe."

Don't tell me I can't talk to the other players.

That was my redneck moment and I paid for it.

Nevertheless, when the soldier comes home, everyone is happy.


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