Monday, July 16, 2007
The minute we got outside the hotel, the Zooker's mood changed. I thought he was difficult before; now he was impossible. I kept peppering him with questions, but trying to keep his attention was futile. I finally stopped talking and just got in-step behind him.
We got into a bit of a rhythm after a block or so. He moved down the street at a breakneck pace, covering ground like a silver topped panther, stalking his prey. I had no idea where we were going and if not for the slight giddy-up in his step (probably the result of the Zook Hook pressing the bounds of decency in his khakis), he would have lost me. I was relieved to not have his nose trained on me but to be honest, inside, I felt a desire to get his attention again. I don't know if it was for the story or for more nefarious purposes, but at that moment, I knew I wanted Ron Zook more than I'd ever wanted any man before. As he leapt from corner to corner I tried to look about to see where we were but none of the streets looked familiar, nor did the faces. As the shadows grew long, my patience grew short. I was losing my buzz and now petulance was my mask to wear.
Exasperated, I grabbed him by his meaty shoulder and said, "if you just tell me where we're going I'll let you smell my hair as long, and as hard, as you need to."
Without breaking his stride, or even turning, he whispered one word: "Chinatown."
The moist summer air gave portage to the word and it grazed my lobe like an insistent lover. That singular word, as it washed over me, sent a bolt of energy through my nether regions like I've never felt before, and I froze. I was dumbstruck and--to be clear--more than a little creeped out. His behavior was such that the only thing I was certain of was that he wasn't fucking around. He was going somewhere and I was going with him. As soon as I decided I was all-in, he was gone. I looked around frantically, but he was nowhere to be found. I moved forward and as I did I noticed for the first time that I was a full head taller than everyone around me. I was in Chinatown. I moved down the street, discarding Chicasians left and right. I suspect I was causing a bit of a scene because eventually my diminutive speed bumps cleared a path and let me through. I was directionless, though, and the faster I moved, the farther I felt from my man. I must have run a mile, randomly turning left and right; I think I passed the same bodega 3 times (fuckers all look alike). I was frantic. I may or may not have been crying (a little). I finally bellowed out like a mighty beast, "ZOOKER!!!!" and pounded my fleshy paws on the wall of a seedy shoe store/tattoo parlor/whorehouse. When my lungs burned and my hope was snuffed I stopped. This was it. I was done. I'd failed. I was no journalist. I wasn't even a blogger. I was just another hopeless, sexy, fully aroused man, drenched in sweat, lost in the armpit of the Midwest.
Just as I decided to head back toward civilization, I felt a little tug on my sleeve. It was a small boy (or possibly a tweenish Asian Catholic school girl hooker?) trying to garner my attention. I grumbled and pulled away. I think I actually growled at it. As I took a step away I heard a little voice say, questioningly, "zookhook?" You look for zookhook?"
I unclenched my raised fist and said to it, "You know where the Zooker is? If you do, take me there. If not, I'm not paying more than $10 for a tug."
It (upon further inspection it looked like it was a middle-aged man) replied, "follow me, Big Boy!" and it scurried down an alley.
It was full-on dark now and I was pretty sure I was about to be mugged or brought to a filthy Cantonese restaurant; either way, I was up for it. I went down the alley, turned a corner, and there was one light. It was bright and red and dirty, like a beacon of sin. I didn't need my little erstwhile Sacagawea to tell me what time it was. I knew I'd found the Zooker.
I don't even have a foot in the door and I hear from the back of the room, "Big Boy!" in that unmistakable Zook croak.
It was somehow dark and bright at the same time. I could hear him but couldn't see anything. The place... smells. I don't know if it's opium or if someone's getting a perm. All I can hear is giggling and "zookhook", over and over again. I finally get my eyes on him and I wish I hadn't. He's exposed, aroused, and wearing nothing but a ne'er do well smile and a cock ring made of what appeared to be pot stickers. He also looked like he'd never been happier. There was nothing sexual going on, but some things, specifically things involving Ron Zook, massage oil, and his unfathomably crooked shank cannot be unseen. I've been around (a lot) and I've never seen anything like it. He dispatched a few of his half dozen minions over with a flick of his newly manicured finger and they practically carried me to a throne next to (but significantly less baroque than) the Zooker's. As they attempted to remove my clothes I shook them off. He gave me a sly look and said, "lighten up, Newsy. This is on the Zooker."
"That's great coach, but I'd like to get an interview in..."
He clapped his hands and within seconds I had a tumbler with 6 fingers of bourbon and 3 ice cubes, just how I like it. I instinctively reached for it and took a long pull from it. I felt the Zooker's knowing smile, but I didn't care. That glass was the teat of God, and I was sucking it like the runt of Christ. I drank it down in one drink and it was the best drink I've ever had. It burned all the way down and a single whiskey tear trickled down my cheek. It burned too. I was instantly soused and I didn't resist when what felt like a thousand greedy fingers removed my clothes. Soon enough I was wearing nothing but my notebook. Zook took an appraising look at me and winked, "lookin' good, Big Boy. Don't worry, the Zooker's a vault."
"Can we get to the interview? " I slurred. I was thinking there was more than bourbon and ice in that glass. I liked it.
"You ask one, I ask one. That's how the Zooker plays ball."
"I have never seen worse technique on a Division I QB. What are...
"He's color blind too. Ain't that a sumbitch?"
"... noted. What are you doing to get him on the same page, offensively?"
"You hit that one, Newsy. One page. That's it. Zooker trimmed the playbook down for the stupid bastard. I'd like to see OBC think of that."
"Speaking of which..."
"Nice try, this one's mine. Why couldn't I smell you back there? "
"I'm odorless, man. Totally odorless. Always have been, " I replied.
"Way. And it's my turn. We both know you're cheating..."
"That wasn't my question, by the way, but thank you."
"You cheeky motherfucker!"
"Thanks. So, the cheating thing, it works. I can see that. But you're going to have to coach, eventually. You will need a system to move to the top of the Big 10. Your one-page playbook theory sounds great, but what are you going to do when you look at that talent all looking back at you and you have nothing to say? You know, like when you were at Florida?"
"I don't understand how you're odorless. What if you sweat?"
"You never answered my question, but I'll give you this one. Nope. Not even when I sweat. Not even when I bleed..."
"No one makes me bleed my own blood, " he interrupted, as though it was the funniest thing he'd ever said, "you know what movie that's from?"
"Dude, seriously, don't waste your questions on shit like that. " I cautioned.
" 'Don't waste your questions! I'm Newsy! I'm bossy!' Lighten UP, man. Jesus. Do you like mango?"
"No, shampoo, I bet you'd smell fab."
I couldn't help it. I was flattered. I also noticed that my eyes were getting really heavy. I was sure now that they'd slipped me a mickey. "You drug me, coach?"
"Big time. It's amazing you're still sitting up. I'm fucking crashing myself. Arr.. arreell... fuck, what's his name, Newsy?"
"areln... Arreola... dude... I dunno, " (I think) I replied.
"That Benn kid. He's always talking about the purple drank. He thinks he's the shit. I brought him in here and he was out for 2 days. You should see the video. Kid's got a cock like a fucking peanut too..."
"Me too, Newsy, me too. It's lights out for Captain Zook."
I woke up in the back of a cab on the way to the airport Monday afternoon. To this day, I have no recollection of what transpired over the weekend. I felt surprisingly good, but I was wearing the Zooker's pants. That was awkward. My cell chirped, I looked at the ID and it said "Zookster." Which was new to me. I answered it (which I never do), and before I even said anything he started in.
"Newsy! You were a blast. Hey, no hard feelings. I took care of everything with the girls too. I didn't rape you or anything if that's what you're worried about. I'm not into dudes. I will say this, your hair smelled fucking awesome when they were through. I was wrong about the mango. You're strawberry-kiwi, all the way. We still on for Oct 12th?"
I was in shock, awe, and rage. I'd lost the last 48 hours, and I'd probably been raped--repeatedly--by a bumbling, water skiing head coach of an arch rival. But as I answered, I looked in the rearview of the cab, and I had the best haircut of my life. It was outstanding. Without a second thought I said, "Aye fucking aye, Captain!"