Sunday, August 30, 2009

Off Broadway

Let me just say off the top, learning that my PC has headphone jacks is boss. Sunny Day Real Estate, now Zero 7, shuffle off to Buffalo, can I get a witness?

We're on the verge of football season, and I'm on the fence about whether to go all Mr. Marinovich on Gavin, the 2-year-old twin. For those of you unfamiliar with the Marinovich tale (I really only know the generalities), the elder Marinovich began shaping his son Todd to be a big-time QB when the boy was 2. Fitness regimen, special nutrition, wouldn't be surprised if there was film study.

The kid won a full ride to USC, was the Trojans' starter, and made it to the NFL, where he flopped. Smoked a lot of marijuana, might have been arrested. Became someone I had to explain to you.

That's not the plan for Gavvy Gav, as we call him around here. Pronounced like it's spelled. Protect this House!

It all began when I suspected he was a bit of a rockhead--seemed unfazed by the same collisions that have his sisters in tears and in need of a hug and a booboo kiss. Plus, he doesn't fall down as much as his twin, Darcy, and has got one heck of an open-mouthed stare that athlete-students get in Geometry class.

Then one day last week, Maggie calls me from upstairs after I hear one of the three cry....OK, scream. She says that Gavin's bleeding. I ask what color. No, seriously, she says she bonked his nose with her head. I run upstairs and he's on the stuffy chair, bare-chested, blood smeared across his face and hands, eating the fruit snacks I had given him minutes before.

Right then, I knew he'd be No. 56. That's right, linebackers wear that number.

There will still be reading and writing and math-ing, and for now we'll keep it to sprints, plyometrics, and yelling 'Strong Right!' 10 random times per day. But come Jan. 6 (or 7th?), his third birthday, the backpedaling, tip drills and supplements begin. He will be thereafter described as having a "high motor", good "awareness in space" and "blood in his eye".

On Jan. 10, we'll add (I use "we" referring to the organ-eye-zation, not so much my wife) the raising and lowering of a running-back pinata over a tree limb. The key to this will be that when he finally rips it to shreds there will be no candy inside. He'll never forget that moment, and we believe his trademark sack dance could involve whacking an unseen target with an imaginary stick, then weeping.

He will be known as Bushwhacker, and the troubled past that will make him a Sunday Conversation on Thursdays will be his relationship with his father, a former sportswriter who wanted one last scoop to get him back to the bigtime.

As Gavin progresses, there will be Jeep-pulling playdates, strength-training advisers, bike-helmet stickers for random acts of aggression, surprise challenges by the old man: "Is he keeping or pitching?" or "Race you to the last protein shake," or "What if the ref isn't looking?" I can picture the slow-motion montage of this period in the movie of his life, "Tackling Dummy."

In seventh grade, he can learn to read from playbooks, learn to write with pretend appeals of league suspensions and learn his numbers from a book I found called Fun With Incentive Clauses. He won't be anybody's fool.....until age 48, when he will mumble orders (like Ozzy Osbourne--he's so funny!) to his butler, maid and the person who will hold up his lower lip up so he can swallow soup.

There will be no money from speaking engagements, but wow, his memories of his career will fade in and out. I will say in interviews that I had little to do with his brutality, that he deserves all the credit. His name will live on in the social-services camps he will found.

Bushwhacker Academy for Troubled Youth Who are Good at Football.


That's all I've got for tonight. Bobby Womack's seeing a yawning me to the door....

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