Marolt: Chain of fools
I guess I think the same about Little Annie’s being shut down as most people around town. That is, if we liked to eat there as much as we say we are going to miss it, the restaurant probably would have been making enough money to pay its taxes.
So it probably had nothing to do with fate that my fellow chain-gang members and I have always held our traditional pre-game meals at the Hickory House. I think it is a good example of a business adapting to a changed Aspen without changing too much itself. We all should be so smart.
Speaking of that, wasn’t it Johnny Cash who said there was no such thing as a good chain gang? I know that the one we have here for Aspen High School football games hasn’t changed much over the years and also that it’s never been worth a dang as long as I’ve been on it. There are more bickering and hard feelings on it than there are in the U.S. House of Representatives. I don’t see much hope of getting things worked out here, either.
It all came to a head two Fridays ago. It was a tight game, and the ball was moving up and down the field pretty quickly. We were all paying attention and doing our jobs fine for the most part, except for Bill Moriarty, who never does. Then, in the third quarter, we had to move a long way for a punt on account of Aspen’s good punter and coverage. I took one step and something in my calf popped, and it felt like it was on fire. I gave my stick to Ken Johnson because I couldn’t move and the game had to go on, as they say. He acted like he’d never seen a chain-gang injury before, which he probably hadn’t since the last one was about five years ago, and who knows what he was doing then?
It’s not important to the story that it was me who was hurt then, too. Anyway, when he realized I really couldn’t go, he finally took the stick and ran to catch up with the rest of the crew, but he didn’t look like he saw it as an opportunity to move up from being a mere clip man, which a monkey could do satisfactorily.
Of course, the rest of the crew wondered what happened when I suddenly wasn’t there to lead. When they found out, you’d have thought it was the funniest thing any of them had heard, especially Tim Fortier because it probably was to him, if you know his weak sense of humor. He thinks our guy in charge of the box (that’s the stick with what down it is on it), Greg Gerbaz, is funny, and Greg has never in his life even said a joke on purpose.
I could have forgiven all of them for informing the visiting team’s athletic trainer of my injury if they hadn’t done it to try and get my goat. Anyway, the laugh was on them. She checked me over and moved my leg all around as I sat on the turf behind the bench and figured out that I hadn’t pulled my calf muscle at all but instead had strained my soleus. I mean, “calf” rhymes with “laugh,” and that is what I was prepared to do about it, but “soleus” somewhat rhymes with “serious,” and that changed everything.
I could’ve left right then and gone home to ice and elevate my leg, which felt like I’d soaked it in a beehive by then, and take some anti-inflammatories like the trainer recommended, but I didn’t. I was going to tough it out for my teammates. For all my grit, though, they laughed all the harder.
It’d be one thing if we were a bunch of hicks out there just because we’ve had dibs on the job for as long as anyone cares to remember and liked to get into the games for free and steal a hot dog from the Booster Club at halftime, but I, for one, am on it for other reasons, too, and it is to set an example for kids. If those players start to laugh at one another every time one of their teammates gets hurt from now on after watching Bill, Tim, Ken and Greg, you’ll know it’s not because of me.
As for you all, I won’t be at the final home game of the season tonight due to my soleus, but I hope you’ll teach the chain gang a lesson on sportsmanship and boo them loudly every chance you get. I also hope you’ll keep eating at the Hickory House like we do so that it can keep paying its taxes.
Roger Marolt thinks the weakest link in the chain gang is a toss up. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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