Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jersey -- Jersey Joe Walcott

JERSEY

When you are a freshman girl, just starting high school, and a senior football player asks you out, you have to say yes, right?

At least that's what I thought at the time. It soon became clear, though, that we had little in common. In other words, his only interest was football, and I knew nothing about it. Well, maybe not nothing. It involves a brown oval ball with white stripes and there's a referee involved, right?

I've tried to understand this game, I truly have, but it just doesn't want to stick in my head. It's long, there's too much stopping, and I may never understand what a down is. I'm actually not completely sure I would be right if someone asked me how many points a touchdown is worth. Six? Or is it seven? I was the cheerleader who started offense cheers when we were on defense because I couldn't tell the difference.

So, you may guess that watching old films of this boy playing football, discussing the previous night's game, or--now this is really mixing it up--watching a movie about football, such as Necessary Roughness was not my cup of tea. And, this was one of the main reasons that we were not fated to be star-crossed lovers.

During this brief relationship, the boy gave me one of his football jerseys. And, I think he intended for me to wear it to, you know, support him on game days. But...it was a weird material...and the huge shoulders made it ill-fitting...and what did one wear these things with anyway? I wasn't the sporty type, and it just didn't go well with a skirt. So, I couldn't do it. I tried, but I had to take it off after second period. I think it was giving me a rash.

When we broke up, I tried to return it. I mean, clearly I had no use for it when were actually a couple, so what would I possibly do with it now? But, instead of taking it back, he gave me a very dramatic, "No, you keep it."

Umm, thanks, I guess?

It was promptly buried at the bottom of my closet. And soon after, on a cleaning spree, I threw it away. I could see no earthly reason not to.

Several years later, when I was out of high school and this boy was even longer out of high school, he started dating a girl that was in my class. And, either she really wanted one of his high school football jerseys or he really wanted to give her one because she actually contacted me to see if she could have the jersey back. The jersey I had thrown away....six years ago.

Needless to say, she wasn't very happy about my answer. I even heard through the small town grapevine that she thought I was lying about it. Yes, let me confess, I'm actually keeping a shrine for that jersey that I was always so loathe to wear. How did you know? How ever did you know?

Not the actual jersey, which was, indeed, thrown away



JERSEY JOE WALCOTT

On Thanksgiving, when my extended family got together for dinner at my Aunt Bridget's house, we would invariably end up playing Trivial Pursuit. We would form two large teams across the table, and slowly torture ourselves with an endless stack of extremely difficult questions. We would rely on guesses, hunches, and the random knowledge of an uncle or cousin to obtain our little colored pieces of pie. People would wander in and out of the game, out of boredom or hunger or both, but they would always be drawn back in by the laughter of the group or a summons for knowledge on a particular topic.  Despite the formidable nature of this game, playing Trivial Pursuit with my family is one of my greatest memories.

On one such evening, on a card that also contained the arbitrary questions "What is triolism?" and "What apostle is Taylor Caldwell's Great Lion of God?* the following question came up for debate:

What boxer lost the most heavyweight title fights?

After much discussion and tossing about of boxer names ranging from Mike Tyson to Sugar Ray Leonard, it turned out that we were all wrong. The answer in fact, was Jersey Joe Walcott. A boxer that no one had ever heard of, or at least honestly had heard of (I think one uncle, rather dubiously, claimed he knew of him).

This may not have been a memorable question, if it hadn't been for the fact that not more than an hour later, another boxing related question came up in the game, and the answer was, you guessed it, Jersey Joe Walcott. Now, two questions in one game with the same random answer? Unheard of! 

For years after, "Jersey Joe Walcott" became an answer you could throw out when you had no other ideas. I mean, the odds were quite good, so "What was the largest passenger liner ever built?" 
Jersey Joe Walcott? Why not?



*Kudos to you if you knew the answers to those questions, which are "sex a trois," "Paul," and "The Queen Elizabeth," respectively.

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