Thursday, September 24, 2015

Story 101: Crush Cure

            “You are too obsessed with that guy.”
            “What makes you say that?”
            Her bedroom walls were adorned with posters of His face; she had had book covers made that featured photos of Him from His pouty modeling days; her ring tone was His deep voice saying “Ring-ring”; her video queue only had television shows and movies that He was in at least somewhere (even if He was only a background extra for 2.5 seconds); there was much, much more.
            “Everything,” her best (and currently only) friend answered.  “You need to be free of all this; it has to be damaging your soul somehow.”
            “I don’t want to be free!” The Fan flopped onto her bed with the limited edition quilt that had His face stitched upon it.  “My love for Him comforts me.  I’m lulled to sleep each night by the soothing sight of His intense stare, and the soothing sound of His intense voice caressing my ears.”  She gazed fondly at the poster on the ceiling of His most recent action movie as she turned on her stereo set to play His audiobook recording of War and Peace on an endless loop.
            True Friend sighed.  “You need an intervention, especially if you don’t want one.”
            “No one ever wants one!”
            True Friend brought The Fan to a multi-genre convention where He was one of the actors attending to promote their latest film.  Despite The Fan’s devotion, she had never met Him in person: True Friend figured that if this worked, it would be worth all the expense, because meeting fame does not come cheap.
            Their seats in the auditorium were three rows from the back, so their view of the stage itself was pretty terrible; however, there were screens set up for schlubs like them to better see the objects of their devotion.  The Fan’s object was not the main star of this flick, so He was seated all the way at the end of stage right and was asked only one question throughout the whole panel (not by The Fan, who could barely stay in her chair and missed hearing His answer over the beating of her heart).
            When the panel was over, True Friend brought The Fan to the mile-long line for autographs: getting a photo on top of that would have been cost-prohibitive, since True Friend knew it would be unnecessary.  The Fan was bobbing gently on the balls of her feet as they slowly made their way up to His table.
            “I don’t even know what I’ll say to Him!  I think I’ll die first!”  She had begun to shake slightly ten minutes prior.
            “‘Hi’ and ‘Thank you’ should be enough,” True Friend said as she observed fans on the other lines around her in a similar state of swooning.
            “What if I choke?  What if I embarrass myself?  He’s so manly, His very presence will overwhelm me!”
            “Oh look, we’re almost there,” True Friend said.
            The Fan peeked between the heads of the people in front of her, and froze.
            “What?”  True Friend asked.
            “He has a perv `stache,” The Fan said in an odd voice.
            True Friend got a better look at Him.  “Really?  Maybe He’s trying a new look.”
            “It’s a look for a pervert.”
            “An intense, manly pervert?”
            The Fan made a strangled sound; True Friend grabbed her shoulder in comfort.
            It was their turn at last – after 100+ people, True Friend was amazed that He still had the stamina to smile.
            “Hello, ladies!  It’s so great that you came; thank you so much!”  He was grinning from ear to ear in apparent sincerity.
            The Fan was speechless; True Friend spoke for her.
            “We’re really looking forward to your new movie, especially your big fight scene,” she said as she handed Him the autograph cards to sign.
            “Aw, that’s so sweet!  Who should I make these out to?”  The Friend gave Him their names; He spoke as He wrote.  “Don’t tell anyone, but I was scared to death filming that – I wish they didn’t make me take my shirt off for that one `cause it was so cold, but I know you all like it so I don’t mind!  The fake rain during that almost killed my colored lenses, though.”  The ladies saw that His eyes really were a washed-out blue instead of the striking emerald green they were on every promotional photo of Him.  He finished signing, handed them the cards, and smiled with tobacco-stained teeth.  “You all enjoy the rest of the convention!  Thanks again for coming – tell your friends to go see the movie when it comes out on December 15!”  His security guard kindly but firmly showed them the exit.
            They emerged into the main hall of the convention, surrounded by thousands of attendees.
            The Fan finally found her voice.  “Thank you,” she said to True Friend.
            “Has love died?”  True Friend asked.
            “I believe it has,” The Fan said.  “I know now that all I saw in him was his smoldering intensity and unwillingness to show joy.  Take those away, and I have nothing!”
            “Glad you’re cured – now let’s get my money’s worth and check out the rest of these nerds.”
            “Might as well, since I really am one of them.”

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Story 100: Scrum of the Mighty Tots

Based upon an idea suggested by Deborah Pergola

[Disclaimer: About 80-90% of this story is actually almost true]

            Coach had a big day ahead of him: there were six teams that he needed to guide to glory, and not a single player among them could be relied upon to follow instructions.  They would not listen, they wandered, they cried, they ran in the wrong direction – why oh why did he agree to use his near-pro soccer skills to teach 5-year-olds?  Too late to back out of volunteering now: word spread in a small town.
            He spotted the rugrats in their cute matching uniforms milling around the outside of their designated field with their hovering parents in charge of the gear, water bottles, and comfort stuffed animals.  Taking charge of the borderline chaos, he summoned the children onto the field so they could “practice,” as in “learn to not touch the ball with their hands.”  Each child brought their own soccer ball for this portion and one inevitably escaped from its owner, who chased it to the neighboring, more advanced field.  Coach was too far away to interfere when he saw two older kids pick up the child’s ball – he could not abandon the flock to go after one sheep, and Mom was on the move to intercept anyway.
            “Can I have my ball back, please?”  Little tyke tried to politely assert himself.
            “Don’t see your name on it!”  The ringleader responded, and both boys laughed cruelly until the one holding the ball glanced down at it and saw the lettering.  “Oh there it is; here you go,” he said, tossing it back to the younger player and strolling with his buddy to the field where the coaches yell at all the players.  Mom steered her child to the proper field and he was absorbed back into the group.
            Coach continued the drills, losing track of how many times each of the players fell over their own feet and/or needed their shoelaces tied.  With the revolving door of players, he finally realized why he had been asked if he had an eidetic memory when he had been interviewed for the position: by his count, across all six teams there were four Jacks, three Rachels, two D.J.s (although one of those actually may have been a T.J.), and seven Josephs.  Memorizing their names was the best and really only way to get their undivided attention, however brief it lasted.
            After practice, the real game began.  Much as with herding cats, Coach felt that a strong hand was needed in corralling the former toddlers to their rightful places on the field.  There already had been tears when one child panicked at whether he was supposed to stand at right forward or right defense, and another kept moving off-sides before the ball was even placed at center field.  At Coach’s whistle, the blank faces stood there for several moments before his encouraging instructions of “Kick the ball!” finally registered as something they would want to do, and nearly all 12 players from both teams ran forward simultaneously to kick the ball.  Their little legs tangling up in each other, the ball was the only item on the field safe from their feet (even those of the ringers).  Some tumbles later, the ball was on the move and a point was unbelievingly scored (into the team’s own goal, but nevertheless).  The shock of actual coordinated action was enough to make Coach drop the whistle and almost overlook the three other soccer balls and a kid from the next team on the schedule that had appeared randomly on the field.
            Since their stamina was minimal, the game/play date ended in less than 15 minutes, yet managed to score more goals than most soccer games played for real.  Having reached time, Coach forced the players from each team to give each other high fives so that the rivalry bloodlust could be staved off until they at least reached high school.  They then got to enjoy their victory snacks, whereas he had to repeat the cycle of the past half hour again and again until the field ran out of children.
            He supposed there were worse ways to spend a Saturday.