Nothing Rhymes with Orange, Vol. 2

Thanks to the devices of Grafixdawg, we no longer have a loathsome logo for the Shotgun Shogun. Thanks to everyone who wrote in last week, the vast majority of whom wanted to see the Shogun return. In honor of the zero-degree temperaturs in Cleveland, the Shogun this week walks back into a another season of frozen despair.

It was 1980.  I was paroled, given a suit and enough drachmas's to make it to Ohio.  I was a freshman at OWU.  Catapulted out of the repressive cocoon of a prep school, I arrived pretending I was a mix of David Lee Roth and Napoleon.  I arrived at the complex.  I had a complex.  Despite all the early unctuous self-exploration, the year of 1980 was neither about sex nor spandex.  It was about Sipe.  Flipping through the slide show of memory, I recall him as a mythological beast – part snake charmer, part surfer.  He just was cool, when cool actually meant something.

 

***

 

Those giant metal Frisbees perched onto top of the roof are sending me a signal.  I interpret it as -- turn here.  And I do.  Every Sunday, I'm a pariah draped in white or brown.  Looks are tattooed on my head.  They stare and wonder, pick up their 22-ounce flagon and swig.  This is Patriot turf.  An army of silver Elvis' surrounds me.  Or is that Elvi?  Eyes averted, I head for one of the tables with its own tube and bottle of Tabasco.  The grease stained box of chicken fingers and finely aged bleu cheese are minutes away.  So is the kickoff.  Twitching ensues.  Certainly, I'm surrounded.  To my benefit, there are other unshaven misfits.  A couple of guys in white with a fish on their shoulders.  Another table filled with Packer backers.  When you're not rooting for the home team, you're a freak in their circus.

 

***

 

I still get goose bumps thinking about that season.  In the cosmic order of things, everything just seemed to fit snugly.  After securing home field advantage, as I was home for the holidays, I made the decision to come back to school early and watch the Raider game in the dorm.  Alone.  Or so I thought.  It was brutal that day.  Right up until kickoff, I sat in my room and listened to the windows howl.  Maybe they were laughing.  Tin foiled rabbit ears were tinkered with on a TV that needed a decent burial.  There was nobody else in Stuyvesant Hall.  Or so I thought.  Suddenly, a play to end the play -- Red Right 88.  When Sipe's pass fluttered towards the end zone, I still believed.  It just hung there.  And the then Wizard stepped on a frozen banana peel.  Picked off, the energy in me was vampired out – lightning being grounded.  I couldn't move.

 

***

 

 

The mural on the wall is spooky.  A pastel, watercolor montage (though using a French word to describe it gives it too much credit) of New England fans.  It looks like it was done in a prison reform art class.  Or, as if somebody mistakenly let Andy Dick in to play.  To no one's surprise, it's punctuated with a punch.  Smack dab in the middle, a gaping hole, and exactly the size of a human fist.  It's been there for seven years, a fitting, symbolic shrine to the tormented fan.  The guy who did it is probably in a prison reform art class, thriving.

 

***

 

The next thing I heard was a loud, belly laugh of a high frequency coming from my door.  I had been stun gunned and was about to be tasered for good measure.  It was Randy.  Where did he come from?  He pointed at me and let out a torrent of loud shrieks.  Randy was an Eagles fan.  He had a short blond mane parted down the middle.  He was Stephen Bishop in Animal House: The house folk singer who brought his acoustic guitar to college to seduce unsuspecting sirens in the middle of the night.  He strummed.  They swooned.  The rest of the gorillas grumbled.  He was using a weapon of mass seduction, not playing fair.  And now this.  I snapped.  Spying a certain fire in my eyes, and the chilled carbon dioxide jetting from my nostrils, Randy did a Roadrunner down the hall.  In a flash, I sprinted after that 12-string Valentino.  I caught him and lifted him up against the wall.  What's that they say about Herculean strength ignited in times of woe?  Much like that pass, he just hung there.  I let him down and, sloth-like, dragged my dead body to my room and locked the door.  Later, we both apologized, ordering a pizza.  He continued his incessant late night serenades.  I went into a deep cryogenic freeze, a funk that lasted a good six months.  The next Van Halen record didn't even cheer me up.

 

***

 

Through the many lost Sundays, I've met a few other infected Brown loyalists.  It's camaraderie of errors.  One gentleman draped in the sartorial splendor of orange looked like Youppi, that buff puff of a mascot from up yonder in Montreal.  I only saw him twice.  Last year, with my wife having left this ritual far behind, I slithered my way to the bar and heard what I thought was a thick midwestern accent. Granted, there is nothing worse than the indigenous New England drawl. It's the sound of a sheep stepping on a land mine – Baaaaaaaaa!!!  Sometimes, it's a good to be a geographic mutt.  It was noon and he had two empty Buds flanking his right side. He was from Cleveland and was working on the harbor project, connecting pipes underwater.  After exchanging pleasantries and few frothy rounds, we watched the regular season game at Pittsburgh.  He was an eternal optimist, perplexed at what a fickle fatalist I was.  I wondered how could any Browns fan who lived through '80, '85, '86, '87 and '95 not be waiting for the dagger in the heart, the fatal avalanche, the long walk to the car.  He was young, younger.  It's hard to approximate, simulate the life-altering shock waves of a blow to gut.  The big loss.  Browns' fans are inexorably asked to explain their anguish.  It never works.  That said, stumble into one of this Clive Barkeresque clan and there is a shared perspective, a quick nod of knowing; you don't have to show the scars.  When the Steelers got the second chance at a field goal, I laughed, nervously stood up, slammed my keys down and threw myself out of the bar.  No bouncer necessary.  I nodded to my bar stool buddy.  He took a drag off his umpteenth cigarette and smiled.  Off in one the seedy corners of this house of pain, a couple wearing Steeler costumes giggled.

 

***

 

Short snaps:

 

We don't need quarterbacks with wristbands filled with elaborate plays.  We need offensive lineman with wristbands consisting of take-out menus.

 

I'd rather have Jamel than Jamir.

 

Here is my feeble attempt at being a draftnik.  I know two guys in this draft.  Only two.

One's been to my house.  The other I've played hoops with a few times.  Both are upstanding citizens.  Brian St. Pierre was the QB at BC.  Wayne Lucier, the starting center (switched from a guard) at Colorado.  They both played on the St. John's Prep undefeated state champs squad with my stepson in '97.  That's why my stepson is known as the splinter thimble.  Lucier would be a nice late rounder.  Both are very astute, clean cut guys.  Whatever that means.  That's it.  Call 1-800-Grifter to get all of my risers and plungers.

 

I want to know one thing.  A yes or no will suffice.  I still don't have the answer.  Did Butch make Foge go to the Schottenheimeresque Prevent in the playoff game?  Yes or no.  Witch hunt, Whitewater, whatever.

 

As our noted capologist detailed, or so it seems, the Browns have tossed out a zeppelin full of signing bonus money and substantial contracts to guys they shed two years later.  This is akin to sticking your head in a jet engine and attempting to fly.

 

John Clayton is that teacher on South Park.  Okay.

 

One other guy the Browns should have brought in.  Another St. Johns Prep player.  A fellow by the name of Konrad.  To hell with the H back.

 

Grammy post-mortem: Avril Lavigne needs a voice and a bath.  Bruce and Elvis doing The Clash -- it worked. 


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