So, here’s a little tidbit that probably not too many people know about me: On Tuesdays I go to my local schoolyard right around noontime and I sell giant pixie sticks to unsuspecting grade schoolers at an obscene mark up. Needless to say, this is very lucrative. I can’t really go into further detail, because I’m not supposed to be there, but I keep it low profile and all the little sugar fiends know where to find me.
So I’m over there yesterday, waiting for the basketball game to break up, when this giant SUV pulls up, looks like a Cadillac. The guy is trying to parallel park it into a tight space and before I know he’s got the front wheel up on the sidewalk. Much to my surprise, no further adjustments are made. Guy hops out, does the standard over the shoulder door lock with his douchey fob and he’s walking over toward me. He looks like some low-level gangster wannabe in some ill-fitting bright blue warm-ups, but then as he gets a little closer I realize it’s John Calipari. Coach Cal, in my hood, who would have thought?
Right away I’m in a bad mood, because I don’t need anyone drawing attention to me, but Cal looks like he’s done this a million times, striding over like he owns the place. I start to do the nervous head swivel, looking for an exit strategy, but there is none. Cal’s got me cornered. He saunters right up to me.
CAL (sticking out his doughy paw): Hey, John Calipari, Kentucky.
Me: James Naismith, horrified.
CAL (takes off sunglasses looks at himself in reflection): Naismith, huh? That sounds familiar. Were you an assistant at Temple back in the day?
CAL: How is coach Cheney, anyway?
Me: He still wants to f*cking kill you.
CAL (nodding): What’s in the bag, cash?
Me: Uh, it’s more like drugs. You’re getting a ticket over there.
(Normally, this would be something I would say to create a diversion and then I’d head for the hills, but literally 2 minutes after Cal parked a cop came by and started lighting up his windshield. It was like they were following him around town.)
CAL (unfazed): That car is property of some old hillbilly in Kentucky I’ve never met, they can tow the sh*t box for all I care. Actually, that’s a lie. I store stuff in the back.
Me: Like what, empty promises?
CAL: More like the currency of the trade, young fella. You’ll learn eventually.
Me: So, what the hell are you doing here, shouldn’t you be getting ready for the Final Four?
(The basketball from the game gets loose and rolls to our feet. Cal picks it up and when the kid coming to retrieve it is about two steps away he rifles it as far as he can in the opposite direction.)
CAL: Loser’s walk, kid.
(kid fights back tears)
CAL: What were you saying?
Me: The Final Four. It’s this Saturday.
CAL: Oh, right. You know, I actually do a lot less (air quotes) coaching than you might expect.
Me: I’m not sure that’s possible.
CAL: You think I’m worried about Jim Calhoun? That old bastard. I call him Mrs. Auriemma. He goes bat sh*t, you should try it the next time you see him. He’ll blow an artery. Team’s a f*cking joke. Their best player is a junior. You know who stays in school for 3-years? Kids who suck.
Me: Well, I gotta say, you do seem to have a way with the recruits. Shame about that Kanter kid. If you had that project, you’d have been a lock.
CAL: That was MISINFORMATION! I’ll tell you what. That kid was the Turkish Marcus Camby, only not a bitch. He had an edge. I loved that kid. I loved his family. His mother made me a sweater out of goat hair or some such sh*t. We had a relationship. The NCAA can sit and spin (Coach Cal points to his junk.)
Me: I don’t know, seems like a pretty straightforward case of you recruiting a professional player.
CAL: There was no money. MISINFORMATION!
Me: All right, calm down.
(I check the time on my cellphone, confirming the game is about to break up and I’m about to make it rain dyed sugar. Sure enough, the kids are starting to meander off the basketball court. I surreptitiously hold up my pixie sticks.)
Me: Seriously, Cal, what the hell are you doing here?
CAL: I’m recruiting.
Me (pointing to the court): These clowns?
CAL: (shaking his head, a devious smile comes across his face): No.
(Cal points into the distance where a group of much younger kids are on some swings. There appears to one kid terrorizing the others. He’s knocking kids on their butts left and right and laughing the whole time.)
CAL: I want the bully.
(Cal makes a quick beeline for his car, and I stop paying attention so I can unload my pixie sticks. Business is pretty fast and furious. I fold the sweaty stack of one-dollar bills into my pocket and start to head out. I hit the sidewalk and walk toward Cal’s illegally parked Escalade. The tailgate is open. When I get even with the back of the car I see Coach Cal and the bully. Cal’s got a shiny bike out of the back of his car, and he’s demonstrating the bells and whistles for the mongoloid that was wreaking havoc on the playground. Kid’s got a smile from ear to ear. He’s about to pedal off into a life of juvenile detention when Cal shoves a wad of bills into his coat pocket.)
CAL: Buy something nice for Mother, and don’t forget to tell her where it’s from.
( I just shake my head and keep walking)