Upper-Level Mismanagement

“Hot dang!” I can hear you yelling. “It’s time for the second part of the volleyball story!” I’ll get to that in a minute, but first let me address those of you who are saying, “What volleyball story?” It’s the one I began two weeks ago where four of my friends were in a tournament and they jokingly asked me to be their manager, but I, not recognizing humor unless it comes from my own mouth, took them seriously and signed up under the firm assurance that I would never actually have to play. And I suggest that you pay closer attention in the future, and take a few notes, as there will be a short quiz in a few weeks.

Now then. The tournament, which was held at lunch each day, began Oct. 10. My friends (Jeff, Chris, Stephen and David) and I were there a few minutes early to allow them to practice their “bumps” and “serves” and “spikes” and “screams” and “grunts” and “obscenities.” I, in the meantime, flirted with some girl who thought my fluorescent pink “MANAGER” hat was amusing. My friends, I must say, did better than I did.

Before the game began, I took my team aside, and, in a gentle loving voice, reminded them that if any of them got hurt, I would have to play. This frightened them nearly to the point of tears.

Our game strategy consisted of this admonition: “Jump up and down a lot.” As manager, I can proudly say that they really and truly ignored me, except for David, who jumped a lot, but only, I suspect, to show off the fact that his calves are superior to Jeff’s (who thinks his are really hot stuff just because when he flexes them, they hit other people in the shin and create bruises).

The first game went rather well. They cooperated with each other, their hits were accurate, and they looked, according to the observing girls, really neat in their volleyball shorts, which all matched, except for the fact that they were different colors. They won, but the opposing team consisted of four elderly, decrepit teachers who had difficulty hitting the ball without breaking a wrist, so victory only seemed logical.

By the time the second game rolled around the following week, the team had acquired matching volleyball shorts. (Volleyball shorts, by the way, differ from regular shorts in that they are much looser and baggier so that nearly any “action” photograph taken of the game would be considered indecent exposure.) The matching uniforms made them look more professional; however, Chris, I believe, negated that when he hit the ball with his forehead and said, “That’s using my head!”

We won that game, too, no doubt because of the phenomenal managerial support. (I stood on the side, and said, “Go!” a lot.)

We were to play again the following Wednesday, but what happened the day before that was by far more interesting than any volleyball game, which are all pretty much the same, unless a major bone is broken to relieve the monotony.

What happened was David said he was going to ditch school the next day and go to Disneyland (“The Happiest Place on Earth, If You Don’t Mind Waiting an Hour for a Three-Minute Ride, Oh, and It Helps If You’re Rich, Too”). The only problem was that we had a game the next day, and if David wasn’t going to be there, I was going to have to take over. This would have resulted in some big-time, earth-shatteringly dire consequences, the primary one being that I would have looked like an idiot.

Fortunately, David changed his mind, and we won the game. That’s about all I remember, that and how the referee blew her whistle so much that she made me think of Don Ash. I’ll bet YOU haven’t thought about Don Ash for awhile.

The next week’s game has also been blocked out of my memory (but, then, so has my middle name), but I do remember one thing. It was played on Halloween, and one of the opposing players was dressed as a cheerleader. We instinctively kept trying to look up his skirt when he jumped, which distracted us into losing the first game of the match. Jeff got a date with him, though ….

I suppose it would be anti-climatic to say that I never had to play, but that’s the truth, and I, being a professional journalist, would never lie, unless I thought I could get away with it. The tournament will not be completely over for at least seven or eight eons, but I have run out of space, so I

My editor put a "..." after the words "so I" at the end, which I think kind of ruined the joke of ending abruptly and unexpectedly.

Notice how I mentioned flirting with a girl, attempting to reassure the reader of my heterosexuality despite my also mentioning how physically fit the volleyball players were, and how good they looked in their volleyball shorts.

Who's Don Ash? Oh, his story was a funny one. He was a City Council member, and none of the other council members liked him, and you can't really blame them. He went through a phase, about a year before this column, where when he felt like he was being stifled or ignored at meetings, he would blow a referee's whistle to get everyone's attention. One time in particular, a man named Don Burnell was trying to speak, and Don Ash got ready to blow his whistle, and Don Burnell told him if he blew the whistle, he would punch his lights out. The whole meeting was reduced to a fracas, or perhaps a debacle -- it even bordered on being a brouhaha -- and Don Ash was mocked city-wide forever after.

The unfortunate thing was that Don Ash occasionally actually had some good ideas, along with some stupid ones (he swore he was going to get the Disney company to build a new Disneyland on a man-made island in the middle of the lake, for example -- and I am NOT making that up), but no one ever took him seriously after the whistle thing.

Lake Elsinore, if you haven't noticed from reading these columns, was a lot like Springfield on "The Simpsons." It's run by, and largely populated by, morons with short fuses, quick to turn into an angry mob, and always ready to waste city funds on something frivolous.