Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Sport That's Made For Kings, Better Than Diamond Rings... Wallyball!

In light of my Volleyball league's spring season beginning next week, I thought it would be a good idea to warm up the ol' joints a bit with a night of Wallyball. The crew and I, along with other friends had done quite a few weeks of this during the summer and it was a good way to bridge the gap between spring and fall seasons. The winter on the other hand can be brutal. Now that the winter has been with us (the Holidays especially) everyone was feeling very out of shape. Nobody likes returning to league feeling like they are glued to the court!

I am in pretty good shape during the off-season because I lift and try to hit the trails when I can. But the winter is just too cold and wet to really mountain bike religiously. So my wind tends to get shallower. I had a feeling I would be sucking wind after an hour or so.

On my drive over to the courts, I saw something that would really haunt me a bit for the rest of the night. Maybe haunt is too strong of a word but it was on my mind the entire night anyway. I was on
North Ocean Avenue heading up to the courts when all of a sudden something flashed in front of the head lights of a car going in the opposite direction. Next thing I hear is a thud and I see a dog flying over the front quarter panel of my truck! The pooch (looked like a shepherd) darted out in front of the car heading towards me. The car must have been going pretty fast because it sent the dog flying over my hood. For a split second I thought the dog was heading into my windshield. Instead, it passed over my hood, I slammed on the breaks and when I turned to look out the side-rear passenger window I saw the dog dart into the woods. From the moment of impact when I heard the thud all I could hear were cars skidding and the high-pitched yelp of the dog. This made my heart sink a bit.

I hopped out of my truck to try and see where the dog went but I couldn't see in the dark but I could hear the yelping getting further and further away. The other driver came over toward me and I asked him what the hell happened. I basically saw everything but I wanted to hear the other guy's point of view. Apparently what I didn't see was that the dog had hopped over a short chain link fence, the kind with the slats in them, and continued to run right out in front of the guy’s car. Since
North Ocean Avenue is a highway I assume he was doing the usual speed (over 55 I'm sure, I'm guilty of this myself at times) so the dog got hit hard. The guy told me he would turn in to the development and see if he can find the house whose yard the dog came out of to see if anyone knew about the dog. This made me feel a bit better but figured it would be awkward for the guy since the dog crossed the highway and went out of sight. Feeling confident of the situation, I hopped back in my truck and headed off. On the rest of the drive I kept thinking about the dog though.

When I arrived at the courts I was the first one there. This was good and bad because I had the opportunity to sit and think. Of course, I thought about the poor pooch! But after about ten minutes or so people starting coming in, so we chatted it up and it took my mind of things briefly. The games were a bit intense as there were no real blowouts. After three games I could feel my leg muscles getting tight and I was definitely sweating it up major. For those that have never played it, Wallyball is an easy game to learn to play and very addicting. The game tends to be more about controlled shots rather than power shots like in Volleyball. Plus, playing on a racquetball court makes the movements tight and lateral movement a key. I would have to say the most intense court games for me are Handball, followed by Racquetball then Wallyball. Handball being the hardest and Wallyball being the easiest of the three sports. I have never played squash, but none of my other friends do either so that sport will have to remain on the back burner.

Let me just say after two hours of play you are definitely ready for the hay! (Ha, the rhymes... LOL) On the way back home I took the same route so I could see of there was any sign of the poor pooch that got hit but there was none. No blood or anything else on the road, although I know this says nothing about any internal injuries the dog has. And I'm sure it would have some from the severity of the hit. In any event, I was glad I didn't see blood because that would have kept me up last night.

I think it is important to explain that I am basically pretty tolerable of many things in this world. I think the reason why people think I am such a nice guy is that there only a few things that really flip my switch and turn me into a real bastard son of a bitch. And these things rarely come up in day to day life. Four things in no particular order that definitely bring out the hulk within me:

1. Child Molesters/Abusers
2. Rapists/Pedophiles
3. Spousal Abusers (particularly men who hit women)
4. Animal cruelty

Clearly the motorist did not deliberately look to hit the pooch, but it still brought out feelings of disgust and outrage. While I was daydreaming in the shower last night, I remembered a time when I was at the Sandspit when I was maybe twelve or thirteen. The Sandspit is a local park, beach and ferry port here in town. Of course, the place has lots of seagulls. Now people are either indifferent to or really hate seagulls. My Pop hated seagulls because they used to give away the ships in the South Pacific to the Japanese during WWII. So whenever he would lay eyes on one he would reply, similar to a reflex response with, "...filthy f#&@ing birds!" To me though, seagulls are just comical birds. They serve a real good purpose as well because never do you see any food items, wrappers or anything like that in the parking lot at the Sandspit. Bottles and cans are another story. But the seagulls are very efficient custodians.

Anyway, one time I rode my bike to the Sandspit with a friend and while we were down there we saw a couple of kids feeding alka seltzer tablets to the seagulls. The kids were obviously driven by the urban myth that if you feed a tablet to a gull it will cause it to exploded because the gases cannot escape the stomach fast enough. In case you do not know what alka seltzer does to birds, it doesn’t kill them, but it puts them through an unnecessary hell and possible injury. I am not claiming to be an expert by any means. But apparently birds do not burp or handle intestinal gases like we do. Plus, the fact that a single tab is a blatant overdose for an animal the size of a seagull makes it even crueler, in my opinion. Basically, a seagull will snatch down the tablet and within a few moments the tablet reacts inside the bird’s stomach and makes it froth and foam at the mouth a bit. At First the foam is white but in rare instances it becomes crimson tinted. I could have been wrong but I assumed this was from bleeding (?). If the gull is perched on the dock you will see it flip out for a brief moment and attempt to fly off. Sometimes other gulls will follow it thinking it has more than a mouth full of food or something.

Seeing this enraged me so my friend and I ran over to the kids and knocked them around good. I made sure to got the alka seltzer and throw it out which didn’t seem to phase the kids. Only the ass whooping made an impression. Since we were twelve or thirteen the ass whopping really wasn’t anything too serious. I am sure they thought twice about screwing with the seagulls. At least that’s what I thought back then. I’m sure these were the type of kids that would shoot your cat with a BB gun or tease your dog from outside of the fence, in other words scum bags in the making! I could not have been able to police that town but I felt better at least venting my outrage and making a statement.

I seem to have gotten off track a bit but I thought the story was relevant. I’ll finish up by saying that being cruel to animals is wrong! Exercise is great! Wallyball is great! Everyone should round up a few friends and go out and play for a night. It is a lot of fun and, of course, helps to relieve stress and improves manly and girlish figures. One sick pleasure of mine during pick-up games is watching all the smokers look like their lungs are going to explode after like twenty minutes of play. My friends and I just laugh our asses off at the pathetic slackers. In retrospect, it was a full evening for a Tuesday!


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