By Tony Hooker
If you’re like me, and I pity the fool who is, a certain movie or song can transport us to a different place and time in our life.
As an example, when I was in the Navy, I worked in the VAST shop on the Enterprise, CVN 65, and during our World Cruise in 1986, our benches would often be down the night before we entered port, giving us night check guys pretty much a free evening. We had configured a lounge of sorts in a parts area of the shop, and we watched a lot of movies, in the prehistoric times before the internet. One movie that was particularly popular in our shop was Fast Times at Ridgemont High. At one time, at least 15 sailors could quote the movie verbatim, and we would do so at totally inappropriate times. We were so funny, comedic legends in our own minds, for sure.
I had this same experience earlier this week, when a friend of mine, “The Doctor”, dropped a particular Kiss song on my timeline.
I was instantly transported back in time to VG, circa 2003, and an incident that shall henceforth be known as the Great Henson Park Massacre.
I can still picture the idyllic scene in my mind’s eye. A quiet gathering of young parents, whose kindergarten aged children had just completed their first season of soccer, which was the first taste of summer rec sports for many.
Everything was going smoothly until yours truly, a first-year coach, suggested a parent/child soccer game to burn off a little energy. For the telling of this tale, in an effort to protect the guilty, I shall use the nicknames that were bestowed upon the kids by me and the other coaches through the years.
My memory of certain specifics has been clouded by the mists of time, but other events that occurred that fateful day remain vivid.
We chose sides and play began rather innocuously. However, being younger and very competitive, it wasn’t long before things took a turn. My first indication that something might be amiss was when Mama Cookie, normally a passive soccer mom, knocked her son off the ball with a vicious block that might have earned her a yellow card on a true soccer pitch. Unrepentant, she stepped over her prostate child and proceeded toward the goal. Not long after, Mother MM entered the fray, wearing a pair of tall shoes that prompted papa Scooter/Toto to refer to her for the rest of the day as the “God of Thunder”. Hence the Kiss connection that prompted this little tall tale.
Things began to get more and more competitive, and soon Mama Beak found herself with what she thought was an open shot. She unloaded a blast that hit her son, “Beak”, square in the face and dropped him like he had been sledge-hammered. Play continued relatively unabated, with both teams doing their best to score, as kids cried and parents swore under their breath, until once again, mama Beak lined up for another shot on goal, only to hit her kid in the head, again! This time he took himself out of the game, we joke now that it must have toughened him up, because he continued to play sports until he graduated, and he’s now serving our career in the Army.
The game continued at break-neck pace until, finding the score tied, and with most parents quickly running out of steam, it was decided that the next goal would decide the winner. And fitting for the way the game turned out, Papa Scooter/Toto found himself with nothing between him and a game winning parental glory earning goal but Mama Mad Dog, the goalie. Papa drew back his leg and let fly with his best shot, which promptly struck Mama Mad Dog in the side of the head. It was decided at that time to end the game in a tie, before someone got killed.
I think 5-year-old Beak summed it up best when his mom asked him if he had fun. His reply? “Yes, but next year can you not play?” Out of the mouths of babes. There would be other parent/child games in other sports, with varying levels of hijinks, but the first one remains legend, at least to me.