The Secret Life of Student-Athletes, Part 3

For Parts 1 and 2, click here and here.

Fall of my junior year turned out to be a terribly chaotic period, because our institution had been chosen to host one of the Presidential Debates.  At the crux of the chaos was the fact that our athletics and recreation building had been pegged as the site of the televised debate.  So while the university administration worked on problems like designing logos to advertise the event and implementing unbelievably complex security measures, all of the varsity teams housed in the building worked on completely emptying the locker rooms so that they could be occupied by the Secret Service.

For my team, the process took days: we lugged out picture frames, dry erase markers, trophies, plaques, plastic utensils, an electric guitar, clothes, shoes, kneepads, furniture, the TV, shampoo, razors, Post-It Big Pads, magnets, glittery scrunchies and leotards, craft supplies, a fake potted tree, laundry bags, magazines, foam rollers, powdered Gatorade mix, and food, all the time wondering how the HECK did some of this stuff get in here in the first place??  All of my volleyball clothes and equipment ended up in a pile on the middle of my bedroom floor for the month of October, and I would dive into it every morning hoping to emerge with the correct combination of shirt, spandex, socks, kneepads, and shoes I would need for practice that day.

But the inconvenience of losing locker room access paled in comparison to the loss of our gym space for those 2-3 weeks leading up to the debate while we were in the middle of our season and practicing 2-3 hours every day.  Our coaching staff worked tirelessly to find us adequate gym space off-campus (which happened to be about 30 minutes away) and also to obtain bus transportation for the 15 players.  On the rides to and from the off-campus facility we would entertain ourselves by watching Family Guy clips on YouTube and by telling each other horrific anti-jokes (i.e. “How do you get a clown to stop smiling? … You throw an axe at his face.”)

Playing a varsity sport often entails missing out on the big events on campus, and the Presidential Debate was no exception.  When the much-anticipated day finally came, my team was on a charter bus driving from San Francisco International Airport to San Jose State University for a pre-game-day practice.  Thus, we were unable to take part in the rollicking celebration dubbed “DebateFest” that was created for the 10,850 out of 11,000 students who did not win lottery tickets to attend the actual debate – although, after seeing the Facebook pictures of the Lumineers’ performance and the pop art paintings of the candidates and the feminist activist wandering through the crowd wearing a vagina costume, I almost feel like I was there.

We did, however, manage to participate in at least one of the university-sponsored events: the Moment in Time photo collection.  Someone in administration or perhaps the marketing department had the brilliant idea to ask students, alums, and employees to submit pictures of themselves at the moment the debate began; pictures deemed worthy for display would be included in a slideshow on the official university website dedicated to all things debate.

I was determined to secure our team’s involvement with the historic occasion in some capacity, so I factored in the time difference between the two states and whipped out my phone when the hour of the debate arrived.  Everyone on the team leaned out into the bus aisle, all sporting stylish grey practice t-shirts and grey sweats, and we snapped a few horrible quality pics as the late afternoon sun poured through the windows and the swaying of the bus made it difficult to hold my phone still.  I sent them off to the designated Moment in Time email address, and lo and behold a week later I found the final slideshow and was thrilled to discover that one of our glared and blurry photos had made the cut.

???????????????????

The selected photograph

This was to be the only successful debate experience our team had.  On our last pre-debate trip out of the locker room, one of my teammates had lagged behind to leave a heartfelt message on our whiteboard for whoever would be occupying the room in our absence.  It read: “Romney and/or Obama: please leave us autographs!! Love, The Volleyball Team.”  When we finally returned from our month-long exile, we looked at the board with high hopes.  There, underneath our request, a single word had been scrawled: “HAHA.”

Tune in next week for the fourth and final installment!

Cheers,

Cassie

The Secret Life of Student-Athletes, Part 2

(If you missed Part I, click here)

When committing to play college athletics, students are fueled by the promise of intense competition, sponsored gear, extensive travel, and (if the student is a nerdy jock like me) free education.  But while they may not realize it, student-athletes are signing up for a package deal that includes one other key yet poorly-advertised element: injury.

The injuries come in all shapes and sizes, striking when they are least expected.  Some are chronic, some heal after a few weeks, and some prove to be season- or even career-ending.  But the main thing I’ve learned after both experiencing and witnessing countless injuries every year is that each one has a story that is far more involved than what can be expressed on, say, an NFL injury ticker: “Roddy White (ankle, hamstring), probable…Richie Incognito (neck), ‘fine’…”   And while our athletic trainers were not allowed to share information on injuries or how they occurred, the stories behind them were often so strange that they spread among the athletes like wildfire.

During my sophomore year, the athletic department was struck by an epidemic of one mysterious (but noncontagious) malady: the concussion.  A silently sinister form of head trauma brought into the limelight by a series of high-profile NFL cases, concussions became a huge focus of the NCAA’s injury prevention programs, and student-athletes were bombarded with new videos, brochures, and paperwork intended to inform us about concussion symptoms and the dangers of ignoring them.  With the increased awareness there also came an increase in reports of concussions, as cases were diagnosed that could have previously been overlooked.

The swimmers were especially hard hit, which seems to make no sense since water can’t exactly cause blunt force trauma.  However the swimmers met their doom on dry land, a place where they are admittedly uncomfortable.  Two were concussed while doing a workout outside on the turf field after a rain storm.  While working on arm strength by tossing large, heavy medicine balls back and forth between partners, the medicine balls became wet and slipped through their hands when the athletes tried to catch them, resulting in two medicine-ball-to-face encounters.  A third swimmer became concussed after tripping and falling on the pool deck.

Another individual, this time a lacrosse player, became concussed just by sitting down in his locker: the motion somehow upset the balance of his helmet, which was perched precariously on top of his locker, and it proceeded to fall down and strike him squarely in the head.  Then there was the soccer goalie who was kicked in the face – with great force – by one of his own teammates.  And my team wasn’t immune either.  One girl had her head stepped on during a chaotic play, and another took a ball to the face – our male manager hit it at her so hard that she was knocked backwards off her feet.

As for me, I could probably write a book detailing my own frequent (and often freak) injuries, such as blowing out my knee in the first game of my career, and being whacked in the head by one of the metal poles that holds up the net after a chain snapped when I was cranking the net into place.  One of the most “freaky” would have to be an open finger dislocation that occurred during a match my junior year.  “Open dislocation” was the doctor’s term, not mine. In reality, my finger exploded, and everyone who witnessed the event agrees that my word choice is totally accurate.  (For the full story, click here.) Clearly, each of these injuries is far too bizarre to be summarized ticker-style, and this is why I now wonder what really happened to “Roddy White (ankle, hamstring)…”

Check back next week for Part 3!

-Cassie

The Secret Life of Student-Athletes, Part I

SA 6

When I first committed to play Division I volleyball, I remember having a premonition that I didn’t really know what I was getting into – it wasn’t long before I found out I was right.  But, I’m not just talking about the usual culture shocks that high school athletes encounter when they find themselves competing at the collegiate level: the two- and three-a-day preseason practices, the long travel days, the exponentially increased appetite that leaves one hungry even after 4-5 meals a day, and the feeling that one’s 18-year-old body has been stolen and replaced with that of a 50-year-old man with double knee replacements.  No, nothing could have prepared me for behind-the-scenes shenanigans ranging from strip-teasing supporters to dealing with a presidential debate, from legendary injuries to painfully awkward photo shoots, all of which occurred in just one of the nation’s athletic departments.

(Part I)

During my first two years with the program, our fan base was pathetically small, consisting of local girl-scout troops, elementary school volleyball teams, family members, and the four faithful season ticketholders who had been coming to every game for more than a decade.  We tried to guilt-trip our on-campus friends into coming, but most regular students come to the school to ski, so the campus would empty on the weekends as our potential fans hit the slopes.  Then, a tongue-in-cheek conversation between one of the volleyball juniors and a member of the men’s swim team changed everything.

Alyssa and Andy were talking at a student-athlete leadership conference when Andy mentioned he’d always thought it would be fun for his swim team to show up to Alyssa’s volleyball games in Speedos.  After the two laughed at the picture, Alyssa got serious: “Do it, Andy.  I’m ordering you.”  Spurred into action, Andy rallied the swimmers and then proceeded to take his initial idea to a whole new level.  At our next home game, he and his teammates showed up wearing their team-issued sweatsuits and filed into the stands grinning obviously.  Alyssa glowered at the absence of Speedos.  But then, after we won our first point, Andy unzipped his jacket and tossed it into the air.  And so it continued: every time we earned a point, one of the guys would lose a jacket, a shirt, a pair of pants, and so on until all of them stood in the bleachers sporting nothing but Speedos and giant smiles.

SA 2

From that point on, the swimmers became legends.  They would show up to our games wearing winter hats and mittens and scarves so they could have more items to strip off.  During time-outs they would perform cheers and hold push-up contests, and their striptease routine would reveal Speedos of every color and design as our points racked up.  The shocked reactions of visiting teams were priceless, and my team began to brag that we could easily pick any swimmer out of a butt line-up.

One night our match was a particularly close one, and the crowd began to notice that the swimmers were running out of clothing to remove.  On one of the final points, the guys looked up the line and realized that everyone was already down to their Speedos.  Andy, the fearless leader, felt all eyes on him and understood the sacrifice would have to be his.  He shrugged, reached down, and whipped off the tiny spandex uniform.  I heard gasps and stifled screams, and several parents covered their children’s eyes.  But Andy just laughed – he had been wearing a nude Speedo under the first the entire time.

Tune in next week for Part II…

-Cassie

A BGrief Updat5e

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My6 dad is mailinhbg me a spare comput5er key6bgoard so t5nhat5 I canh bget5 bgack t5o t5y6pinhbg real words as soonh as possibgle.  BGest5 of luck decipnherinhbg t5nhis, anhd I planh t5o nhave anh act5ual post5 pubglisnhed inh abgout5 a week!

[-Cassie

The Tangent-Minded Professor

Last week my professor sauntered into our classroom ten minutes late, sat down, kicked off his shoes, and proceeded to lecture for the next two hours with his fly open.  The only thing surprising about this scenario is that it no longer surprises me at all, because after just three weeks of school I can state without hyperbole that this man is the oddest professor I have ever seen.

Professor has white hair that stands on end, spectacles that rest on top of a bulbous nose, and an accent that places his country of birth somewhere in the United Kingdom.  When one first sees him, his stern frown and grizzled overall appearance give the impression of the stereotypical curmudgeonly old professor.  However, as soon as he begins to lecture, his eyes light up and it becomes apparent that he is incapable of speaking unless he is smiling.  In fact, he smiles perpetually, to the point of becoming unnerving.  His words have a deliberately slow and measured cadence, and once he has begun lecturing he doesn’t really stop.  The steady flow of speech continues as he fidgets in his chair, stretches his arms above his head and holds them there, and removes his outer layers of clothing.  (This final habit often results in a sweater being stuck on his head for several uncomfortable seconds, during which he continues to speak but all the class hears is muffled sounds emanating from within the fabric.)

Some days we don’t spend more than 30 minutes of the two hour lecture period discussing the book we’ve been reading, because Professor often embarks on legendary tangents that leave him paralyzed with teary-eyed laughter and draw nervous giggles from the sympathetic portion of the class.  Once, while giving us the details of an upcoming paper assignment, Professor decided to take a moment to describe what would happen if someone strayed too far from the given prompt or (God forbid) plagiarized:

“Then of course, the trap door would open beneath said student, and they would fall down, down, down, into the deep, dark abyss where the sea monsters reside, which is, after all, at the end of the world – the edge of the map, so to speak – because we all know that at the edge of the map ‘there be monsters,’ because of course, the world is flat, although those scientists – the fools! – would have us believe otherwise, but we all know the truth!…”

At this point I returned to creating photo collages on my phone.  But try as I might to stay distracted in his class, Professor’s bizarre tangents and perplexing behaviors keep my attention from ever wandering too far.

One day he decided to interact with a character in one of the plays we were discussing.  While reading the character’s thoughts regarding the supernatural presence of his dead fiancé, Professor stopped after the line “She’s still around here somewhere…” to respond, “Of course she is – on the rainbow bridge, with your first pet chinchilla, to be sure!”  Why “chinchilla” is the first pet that popped into his head remains to be explained.

Other statements include Biblical references, such as when he forgot to emphasize a point and berated himself with “Aaahh, I’ve passed over this like a Levite on the other side…”  If he feels that verbal chastisement is not enough to match the gravity of his error, he will beat himself on the head with a paperback book, like a monk who whips himself to atone for his wrongdoings.  (Misspeaks deserving of such punishment apparently include unintentionally referring to actor Richard Briers as an actress.)

Sometimes Professor attempts to incorporate comic relief into his lectures; these are often borderline-politically-incorrect.  When reading portions of plays aloud in class, he performs the dialogue of female characters in a high-pitched voice with trilling r’s and a dreadfully whiny tone.  And while trying to convince us to sympathize with the challenges of his academic post, he sarcastically complained, “I have to think of witty things to say, write assessments, remember to be respectful of diversity, and so on and so forth…”

It’s becoming apparent that I will be learning a lot more than I bargained for when I initially signed up for this class; the course description made no mention of South American rodents or sea monsters.  Well, I guess taking notes on Professor’s strikingly odd deviations from the syllabus will keep me from dozing off for the rest of the quarter.

-Cassie

For My Next Trick, I Will Interpret My Own Dreams!

I hereby certify that I did indeed dream each of these dreams and I have not taken creative license in recording the details/events therein.

Dream #1: A dear friend informed me that after taking a blood sample, she had discovered 3x the normal amount of protein in my blood, most likely due to my excessive consumption of beef jerky.  Later in the same dream, I realized I had an intense craving for pancakes from Snooze: An A.M. Eatery.  It was 4pm, but I went anyway and was served strawberries, broccoli, and celery as appetizers before my pancakes were brought out.  Waiting for said pancakes made me late for volleyball practice.

Interpretation: Strange food cravings indicate subject is pregnant has succumbed to Starving Athlete Syndrome (SAS) and should increase daily food intake from four meals to six.

Dream #2: I discovered that my family had a total of six bottles of honey scattered around the house; some were half-empty and others only had a drop or two of honey left inside.  I proceeded to freak out and then painstakingly transfer honey from bottle to bottle until we were left with two full bottles of honey.

Interpretation: Subject has been suppressing early signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Dream #3: I was on a guided tour of a movie set where I got to meet each and every member of the production team.  However, it was a Batman movie, so he was all I really cared about.  I finally spotted him and tackled him to the ground in my excitement, but he shushed me because suddenly we were in a video game and he was on the lookout for “The Enemy.”  Someone was kidnapped and taken to a grocery store (gasp!!) I grabbed Batman’s hand and pulled him up when he fell off a cliff.  We saved the day.

Interpretation: Subject has delusions of grandeur and also exhibits a real soft spot for Christian Bale.

Dream #4: There was an awesome Halloween bash with a HUGE display that utilized the sky by projecting a graphic onto it that highlighted all the constellations.  The spectacle also included animatronics of evil Disney step mothers, witches, cats, ghosts, vampires, etc., and every three minutes a cloud of large skull “bubbles” would descend on those watching.  They frightened me, so I hid behind my younger sister.

Interpretation: Subject is fascinated by Halloween and yet also repelled by it – must explore further.  Is also a scaredy-cat.

Dream #5: I was biking back to my neighborhood, but as soon as I hit a familiar three-stop-sign T-intersection, there were suddenly hordes of people EVERYWHERE.  They were all dressed in band uniforms, and they were rehearsing for something.  There were archers, judo practitioners, shotput throwers, marching band members with their instruments, dancers, high-kickers…everything imaginable.  I struggled to make my way through the crowd on my bike, and that’s when I discovered what they were rehearsing for: the International Dustbusters Competition.

Interpretation: I give up…

-Cassie

Challenge: If you’re brave enough, comment below with one of your oddest dreams, and I will offer an amateur yet informed interpretation. Go on, I dare you.

(Image: Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh)

Namaste/Plié

Yoga 1

Now that I’m done with my college volleyball career, I have an insatiable desire to fill my sudden abundance of free time with all sorts of novel athletic pursuits. Thus, it was only a matter of time before I would decide to participate in a yoga class. My roommate and I agreed to start a free week at a local CorePower studio (you didn’t think we could actually afford yoga classes, did you?), and we picked a Yoga/Barre class with “simple and precise movements” that sounded feasible for a beginner like me.  To be honest, I believed that I was on a different level from other “beginners” due to my background in competitive athletics. After four years of killer workouts and marathon matches, how hard could this be?

Yoga-Poses-for-Beginners

When the day finally arrived, I entered the class feeling poised and confident.  Our young instructor strutted into the room and turned to face us; she had a small, tan, compact body and crazy bleached blond hair in a ponytail that stuck straight out from her head.  After flying through the compulsory introductions and explanations, she immediately ran us through a series of warm-up positions, and before I could figure out what was going on I found myself in a sort of modified downward dog pose, crossing one leg behind my back, craning my neck to see what everyone else was doing, and nearly throwing out my back in the process.  Instructor was over by the speakers turning up her music and counting out loud: “Just six more! And one, two, three, four…”  I let my head fall forward so that I was looking at her upside down between my legs.  I thought we were just holding this pose…were we supposed to be doing reps of something…?  I felt my face turning red as the blood rushed down to my head.  Instructor jogged to the front of the room and began shouting “Breathe in! Breathe out!” in a very authoritative voice.  I put my leg down on the floor tentatively.  I had always imagined a yoga instructor as having a mellifluous voice, murmuring pose suggestions as the sound of harps and waterfalls played in the background.  This image was quickly being destroyed by this peppy specimen of a woman – perhaps she had a background as a zumba instructor?

Yoga 5

Instructor ordered us to stand up, place our feet shoulder-width apart, and begin squatting in time to the music.  I scrambled to my feet and squatted appreciatively – this was a familiar exercise.  Instructor then shouted “Move your feet three more steps apart, and squat, and squat, and squat…”  My feet were already sweating, so as I rushed to slide them apart I narrowly escaped slipping straight down into the splits.  After wobbling magnificently for a moment, I regained control and looked at myself in the floor-to-ceiling studio mirror.  I was peeved to find that, instead of a look of serenity, my face wore the expression of a terrified child.  Next, we were ordered to move to a seated position with our backs to the wall, where we could reach up and hold on to the barre to assist us in an ab exercise.  While we students sweated and shook our way through the reps, Instructor sat in the middle of the room and performed them easily without a wall or a barre.  When she turned to look at one of the other students, I glared at her.  Just for a second.

Yoga 6

After muddling through the ab portion of the class, I followed Instructor’s directions and positioned myself next to the barre in such a way that I could stand on one leg, rest the majority of my weight on the barre, and lift my other leg up behind me repeatedly in time to the music.  Ultimately, this exercise allows the muscles of the hamstring and buttocks to feel as though they are being stabbed repeatedly and roasted over a fire – like marshmallows, I guess.  I kept looking down at my supporting leg, which was shaking uncontrollably, but Instructor would always catch me: “Look up! Open your collarbone!”  I forced my chin upward and focused on the thermostat on the wall.  It was turned off.  Sweat dripped into my eye.  I continued to kick up my other leg behind me as the instructor counted off the reps.  The barre was wobbling as I clung to it for support and my mind wandered: How much could I sue the studio for if the barre ripped out of the wall suddenly?  What was this pose, anyway?  The modified poison dart frog?  Or maybe the ninja II…  My leg was trembling even more violently and my foot was slipping sideways across the floor.  “Look up!” Instructor startled me out of my reverie; crap, she caught me looking down again.  She moved back to the middle of the room and yelled “How’s everyone doing??”  Silence.  Either no one had enough breath to produce a response, or no one could bring themselves to voice their true feelings.

Yoga 7

One of our final leg exercises involved standing with the barre to one side and lifting up the leg opposite the barre so that it looks as though you are forming half of the indian-style siting position, but in the air.  This turned out to be impossible for me, since an inexplicable absence of flexibility in my right hip has prevented me from ever being able to sit indian-style, even in my youth.  Instructor came over to correct my leg position, of course.  She grabbed my shin with both hands and began to force it upwards: “See? Try to hold it like this.”

I nearly fell over as her well-meaning attempts threatened to wrest my hip from its very socket.  “My hip just doesn’t move that way,” I explained apologetically after jerking away from her.  “It’s always been like that – I don’t know why.”  Inside I was screaming “I’M SORRY I’M INCOMPETENT!”

Instructor just smiled and said, “No worries, it could be worse!”  I thought back to what would have happened if I had slipped into the splits a few minutes ago.

Yes, it definitely could have been worse.

If you’re looking for me, I’ll be doing the corpse pose.

-Cassie

(Images adapted from Show Me How by Lauren Smith)

Dude, Where’s My Car?

Last winter, my car was stolen.  Or was it…?

I had been holed up in my apartment for two days as the latest snowstorm raged outside, dumping white powder all over the city and causing the sky to go dark at 4pm.  I curled up on my couch to watch the snowflakes blowing diagonally in front of our windows, and I thought to myself that the extra charge for underground parking was finally paying off, since my car was being protected from the savage elements.

After two days, the clouds finally vanished and allowed the sun to make its daily appearance.  Since I can handle snow that has settled the ground far better than I can handle it when its airborne, I decided to venture outdoors, perhaps even drive to the grocery store to replenish my food supply. I took the elevator down to the garage and stepped out, fiddling with my keys.  When I looked up towards my designated parking spot, I stopped in my tracks – literally – because it was EMPTY.

My mind started working overtime as my body stood frozen; I knew that I had obviously not driven anywhere in the last two days, but the garage could be accessed by anyone who lived in the building, and there had been many recent reports of bikes being stolen from the garage, so…. clearly, someone from my building had STOLEN MY CAR.  My mind latched onto this horrifying conclusion as I fumbled with my phone and managed to place a call to my roommate.  When she picked up, I was still standing in the exact same spot in the garage, still staring at my miserably vacant parking space.

“Hello?”

“Um, Laura? I’m in the garage, and…my car’s not here.  It’s GONE.”

Laura told me later that at this moment she was trying not to burst out laughing.  She delicately encouraged me to retrace my steps. “When did you last drive it?”

“I haven’t gone anywhere for two days!  I’ve been in the apartment!  The last time I drove anywhere was before the snowstorm, when I went to the locker room to – oh.”

It all came back to me.  I had driven to the gym straight from a doctor appointment and parked on a nearby street. When I left the gym, I had walked back to my apartment, which was only a couple blocks away. I had left my car parked on that street for two days, alone in the cold as the snowstorm raged, alone outside as I sat on my couch and patted myself on the back for having underground parking.

I hung up on Laura and ran out of the garage and across the street (ok that’s such a falsehood, I just walked really fast) and found my poor little mini-SUV parked right where I left it. It was covered in snow. I placed my hand on the hood – or rather, slightly above the snow-covered hood – and apologized. “I’m sorry, Chester…” (My car’s name is Chester.) I then brushed off all the snow with my bare hand to punish myself for being so absent-minded.

I wish I could say this is the only time I’ve misplaced something and immediately assumed it’s been stolen. Just this week I came into my living room and discovered that my laptop had disappeared from the coffee table where I left it. My heart dropped because I knew the only explanation was that my home must have been invaded while I was in the shower. I checked my purse on the couch and was relieved to find that the burglars had not taken my wallet. I decided to have a look around the house just to make sure everything else was in order. When I returned to the living room I did a double take at the coffee table because there, covered in its tasteful array of stickers, was my laptop. I pondered this for a moment and decided not to worry myself with what had actually happened (cough nothing cough cough). I then returned to what had been occupying my time before I came into the living room in the first place: searching for my phone. Maybe that girl I ran into at the coffee shop snagged it…

-Cassie

Weekly Writing Challenge: Collecting Detail

Stuck in traffic on a freezing winter evening, I stare at the endless line of cars until it becomes a blur in front of my eyes.  My hands, clutching the ice-cold steering wheel, are slowly going numb in my oversized gloves as the blood moves out of my fingertips and retreats into the warmth of my arms.  I turn up the heater one more notch and attempt to adjust the black vents so that they blow onto my hands, but they swivel downwards again on their loose plastic hinges.  The line of cars inches forward, then comes to a stop.  I frown at the brocade of ice crystals that has not yet melted from my driver side window.  Where am I going again?

My attention snaps back to the automobiles stretched out in front of me.  The steam from their exhaust pipes is translucent white in the frigid air; it billows across the road, cloaking vehicles in fog.  As I continue to stare, the exhaust begins to resemble clouds of smoky breath hanging in the air, the kind that burst from the nostrils of snorting horses.  I squint and the line of cars morphs into a cavalry, horses panting and stamping as they head towards a wintry battlefield.  I open my eyes and laugh, then sit on my hands, which have lost feeling.

I look at the cars again, but this time the red glare of brake lights dominates my vision.  Each pair of lights becomes a pair of red demon eyes, piercing the darkness with their evil gaze and glinting maliciously off the ice that clings to the road surface.  The clouds of exhaust cannot shroud their malevolence.  I suck in my breath and shake my head to make the vision disappear.  The lights all blink off and happily turn into innocent yellows and whites as the vehicles creep forward again, only to stop and flick back to red just seconds later.  I peel off one glove to examine my pale, bloodless fingertips.  I can’t remember where I’m going.   

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/challenge-collecting-detail/

Portrait of a British Band

Image

Four young men strut onto the stage to the tune of I Want You Back by Jackson 5. They all sport varying lengths of floppy, middle-parted hair: the bassist’s goes to his cheekbone, the lead singer’s and the other guitarist’s reaches the jaw-line, and the drummer’s is just past the chin.  Lead Singer steps up to the microphone center-stage and addresses the crowd with his heart-melting accent:

“We are Peace.  We come from the United Kingdom.  We are here to do things to you.  With music.”

Cue enraptured screams.  Is this the next British Invasion?

Lead Singer is a skeleton figure in a form-fitted shirt and pants; in fact, his long-sleeved shirt is so tight that, under the harsh glare of the spotlights, one can clearly see the nipples on his concave chest all the way from the balcony seats.  His confident mannerisms are captivating: easy/unaffected twirling, quick flicks of the wrist and waves of the hand in between chord strums on his electric guitar, hands clapping briefly and rapturously behind his head during an interlude.  He is lost in his own music.  He breathes “thank you” into the mic after each song.

The band members experiment with sounds, making their guitars mimic the snarls of a wildcat or the thin island sound of a ukulele.  Their lyrics range from cutesy pop – “I wanna get lovesick,” “You vibe so hard” – to cleverly sexual – “You could be my ice age, sugar/Lay me down and make me shiver” – to dark and convoluted – “We spit blood in the sun,” “If you don’t climb atop the Eiffel,/You’ll never fall or die.”  Every so often, Lead Singer will dedicate a song “to the leddeeezzz,” and the female crowd-members accept it ecstatically.

Near the end of the set, Lead Singer whispers into the mic: “Well. It’s a Monday night. Anything could happen…”  Indeed.  Or perhaps something already has…

Posted on December 13 by Cassie