Sunday, March 30, 2008

There’s no Mike in team

Last week, my buddy Oliver asked me to join his basketball team for a friendly scrimmage in the after-work league. I told him I needed some time to think about it. It’s been six years since I’ve run anywhere further than the toaster in our kitchen, and I only do that when there’s smoke billowing out of the door and we need to invite someone in a CSI jacket over to make a positive ID on our garlic bread. Besides, anyone who’s watched old guys playing sports knows that friendly games are only viewed that way by the team that’s about to lose.

My first experience with after-work leagues came about five years ago, when a coworker needed a ride to the field for his ultimate Frisbee game. After dropping him off, I decided to stay and watch. The players were actually quite good, and they didn’t seem at all deterred that were playing a sport designed primarily for dogs.

Towards the end of the game, some trash talking on the field degenerated into a fistfight that had to be broken up by the refs. It’s a good thing everyone left their laptops in their cars, or a briefcase-clearing brawl might have ensued. After watching grown men turn violent over a game of Frisbee, I decided that playing in the leagues could never top the entertainment value of spectating at them.

But I started to seriously consider Oliver’s offer a few evenings ago when I got winded retrieving the plastic barrel of cheese balls from the top shelf of the pantry. Also, an evening of playing basketball would have helped preemptively counteract the Girl Scout cookies that were due any day.

Of course, the Girl Scout and her mother stopped by to take orders on the Saturday that my wife Kara was out of town, and my buddy Derek and I were playing Assassin’s Creed at two in the afternoon, still wearing our bedheads and pajama pants, sitting on the couch in full view of the window by the front door. If the Girl Scout had been a velociraptor, maybe we could have fooled her by remaining motionless, which was pretty much what we were doing anyway.

At least the best Girl Scout cookies, the ones with coconut waxed on, only have about three in a box, so they can’t be that bad for you. The rest of the box is occupied by plastic spacers that are wide enough to separate tractor tires. I don’t know what would happen if those cookies touched each other, but judging from the security measures that have been put in place, it must be something akin to what happens in Star Trek when there’s a breach in the antimatter containment field.

Unfortunately, I had no choice but to greet our neighbors unshaven and unshowered, hopefully ordering enough cookies to compensate for my appearance. In an ideal world, when they come back by to drop the cookies off, my pants won’t have penguins on them. In any event, it’s time to alarm the end of the driveway so I at least have time to put on a hoody.

Given those circumstances, I decided to go ahead and play ball with Oliver’s team. We were about thirty seconds into the game when I realized my mistake. These were the guys who MADE the team in high school, even if some of them had done so before the invention of the internal combustion engine.

I learned that night that old, short and bald guys (with ponytails, somehow) who had only minutes before been smoking by the door to the gym can very easily still be way better at basketball than you. And by you I mean me.

On a breakaway about halfway through the game, one guy from the other team dunked. It wasn’t like he just barely made it, either. It looked like one of the slow-mo dunks from the old Nintendo game Double Dribble, but with better graphics.

At least I’ll have my three Samoas soon with which to console myself.

You can alley Mike Todd’s oop at


  1. LOL! I have to tell you that one of my Monday morning highlights is to read your column. It starts my week out on a positive happy note becuase I am usually snorting with laughter by 9am. THANK YOU!!!

    ps. Girl Scout cookies are the spawn of the devil. They are evil and call your name wherever in the house they are. We bought tons of the peanut butter ones (Gary's favorite) and then stuck them in the freezer. The other night I went into the kitchen to find him knawing on frozen cookies and dunking them in milk trying to thaw them so he wouldn't break a tooth. good times

  2. Dude, that was hilarious. Yeah...'Andre Agassi' was quite the proficient baller.

    And I'd describe that dunk as something from NBA Jam. BOOM SHAKALAKA!

  3. Samoas are the food of the gods. I sure hope they order plenty, because I hear gods have hefty appetites.

    My kids used to sell those damn cookies. My daughter asked one old jerk if he wanted to buy a box and he said "F"-off. I ran over him with my car. He won't be bothering any MORE little girl scouts, you can be sure.

    I only run if someone is chasing me. With a knife. So, I'm not so good at sports, probably. But I am a champion cookie eater...

  4. Sheri -- Thanks for the kind words, dude! Anyone who's been paying attention knows your comments are funnier than the columns.

    Allover -- Dude, I forgot about the Boom Shakalaka! I hope you made three shots in a row last week and set the net on fire.

    Miss Ann (for now) -- I'm glad to hear justice was served. With milk?

  5. I see you've been paying attention, Mike. Why, that makes me HAPPY!! So come on over and vote for my new name, cause I can't decide...

  6. Hey, buddy, if it's any consolation, it could have been a lot worse ... you could have gotten beat in hoops by a team of girl scouts and had old short bald guys arriving at your door with cookies.

  7. Miss Ann -- Done! I'm not tellin' which one I voted for, though. Okay, Calamity Ann. Has a nice ring to it.

    JL -- Ha! Nothing but net.

  8. That, sir, was comedic genius! Thank you for the much-needed laugh.

  9. Chris -- Thanks, man! Usually when the term genius is associated with me, it's preceded by "Way to go..." That was a nice change of pace.