About three weeks ago, I mentioned that I saw Dave Matthews open up for Big Head Todd and the Monsters at the A.J. Palumbo Center back in 1995. I might not have been there though had any one of a series of unlikely events not come to pass. It all started on a February or March afternoon. I wasn’t in school because the teachers went on strike and mom was at home because she was between jobs. I was sitting up in my room playing video games or otherwise messing around while mom was downstairs in the kitchen. We were both listening to WDVE who was having a promotion that week where by being the right caller when the right song was played, you would be entered to win a trip to Seattle for the Final Four.
I had tried calling in to win something from WDVE so many times before, never with any success. I would call, get a busy signal, hang up and try again; sometimes until I got a person and they told me that they already had a winner. Suffice to say, my expectations were modest at best. But when the time came to call in, there was no busy signal, the phone was ringing. “Moooooooooom!!!!!! Pick up the phone!!!” You see, I was only 17 at the time and not actually old enough to be eligible to win any prizes. So mom picked up the phone and thanks to my phone-dialing skills, she was entered the contest to win tickets to Seattle.
The contest, as it turned out, was to be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center where they were having a basketball tournament and expo. In line with the theme of the contest and the expo, to win the grand prize the five registered contestants were to participate in a 3-point shooting contest. Now mom played some sports when she was younger, but apparently basketball was not one of them. Prior to the contest, we went out to the local court so that I could give her pointers on form and mechanics. I tried to coach her up as well as I could, but it was pretty apparent that she was not going to have any success with more traditional shooting styles. In the end, I told her that she was just going to have to shoot underhanded like Ollie from Hoosiers. She still wasn’t making any shots in practice, but at least she came closer than she did otherwise.
Of course I would have loved to have the chance to participate in the contest instead of mom. Aside from the little “too young to win” detail, however, I also had a broken wrist (suffered in gym class) and a cast on my arm. What’s more, I also had a chipped elbow and until just before the contest, the cast went to my upper arm. For three weeks my elbow was bent and I was just starting to slowly straighten it out. So I was going to have to sit this one out as a coach and a cheering section.
When we got to the expo, we found that mom’s competitors were three guys in their 20’s and 30’s. During warm-ups, mom managed to hit one or two shots, but given the competition, she was clearly the distinct underdog. Each competitor was to get ten shots, whomever made the most was the winner. Remarkably, the first two contestants stepped to the line and missed all ten shots they took. By this point, a crowd had gathered and there were hundreds of people watching. So what does mom do? Oh, not much. She just steps up to the line and nails her first (underhanded) shot with a perfect swish. The crowd goes crazy. I jump out of my chair, raising my fists to the sky, completely forgetting that I can’t actually straighten my arm yet. Ouch! It’s okay though, because mom’s shot was awesome.
With the crowd overwhelmingly behind her and everyone cheering for “mom”, she hit one more shot to finish with two out of ten. As is the case with so many NCAA tournaments, however, the Cinderella story wasn’t meant to be and the last contestant hit three of his first six shots to win the trip to Seattle. But for her efforts, mom took home the second place prize package, which included a 19″ TV/VCR combo, a case of All Sport and a pair of tickets to Dave Matthews and Big Head Todd, not to mention the admiration of all the folks at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center that day.
Bittersweet – Big Head Todd and the Monsters