I had a few “holy shit!” moments this weekend. It was never, “holy shit! I’m going to die!” or “holy shit! there’s Obama, where’s my healthcare!” It was more along the lines of, “holy shit! I’m on the road to Lexington, KY and I’m going to poop my pants with excitement!”
I had never been to Kentucky and I was jazzed to get down there. I had heard legends of bourbon-fueled chaos and hardcore polo in Lexington, as the city is clearly the lynchpin that keeps the Eastside and Midwest polo regions together. It goes without saying I was super stoked for the games, the bourbon, and to see all the kids that are as addicted to polo as I am. In the weeks preceding the tournament I had been hearing rumors of brand new fully-lit courts and boards provided by the Lexington Parks Department, which was as baffling as it was tantalizing. Somehow these Lex kids tricked the city into cooperating with them, and I was going to reap the benefits of a fully torqued weekend of high-octane polo.
***I wrote a couple paragraphs about our road trip down to Kentucky, which was eventful but irrelevant. Skip down to the end if you want to read about it ;’) ***
Anyway, back to the polo. Pickup on Friday night was fantastic. I really can’t stress how awesome the new courts and boards are. The surface was incredibly grippy— almost no one slid out and the boards were wicked live, so all the rebounds bounced deep back into the crease. As more friends arrived, it turned into a PBR-crushing party until the lights went out. Afterwards we hit Al’s, the local dive bar, where I drank local beers until I couldn’t see straight and then I passed out on a futon in Irishtown, a small ghetto on the other side of Lexington. I woke up at 8am in a room full of new friends. I blasted What’s New Pussycat? at full volume for several repeats until everyone was awake enough to tuck away their morning erections. Chris Simpson “cooked” a shitty piece of steak and destroyed a fried egg for me, so I was ready to get on the court and smack some balls.
Swiss rounds were awesome, as the morning bracket was full of really impressive talent. My favorite team to watch was Fuck’n Fat Chance, made up of Charlie Sprinkle and Daniel Sebring (Instagram: @sprinkskinks and @rimgrippers, respectively) and they had a great showing. I didn’t get to meet every player on every team, but of the kids I remember, The Grins (Jessi with Nick McLean) and the Green Beards (Hamersly and Nate) were clearly winners bracket contenders. We’re Just Partyin’ (Chris Simpson and Nic Maglio) knocked me around like a pinball on the court, and The Significant Otters (John Hayes and Nic Savage) were some of the most fun opponents I’ve faced in recent memory. The weather was beautiful and spirits were high. No one cried, everyone got laid, and the Spice Girls showed up and made out with everyone– it was crazy, you should have been there.
Later on, everyone ended up at Sidecar, a shitty bar physically attached to Al’s, and we all got shitfaced on $2 PBRs, $3 bud lite lime-a-ritas, and had a crazy karaoke sing-along. Nico Paris (@robo_nico) screamed Bohemian Rhapsody into my face, including the guitar solos, and everyone in the room felt his/her junk wiggle when a kid named AJ sang Let’s Get It On by Marvin Gaye. I considered breaking out my favorite R. Kelly songs, but in a very uncharacteristic move on my part I chickened out like a little bitch and slinked back to my futon in Irishtown to watch VHS tapes, most memorably Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze.
The fun stopped temporarily on Sunday when it started to rain. There were tornado warnings screeching and the skies opened up and poured out like God’s vagina, so we all knew some serious shit was about to go down. Everyone got soaked, and not in a fun way. I didn’t pack at all for the rain and I was freezing my shaft off all morning. The games were too infrequent to keep my blood pumping so I hid out in the nearby rec center with the hot coffee. I got several cups and some dank maple bacon doughnuts with Kiki of Toronto (@kikiknots) from the local bakery / coffee roasters, North Lime coffee shop across the street from Al’s. The doughnuts were so dank that I felt the need to put it in writing; thinking about those doughnuts makes my peen swell. After my team was eliminated I reffed and timed a bunch of games, reminding everyone that we still had to be friends after this tournament’s winner was decided. It got chippy on the court, but it never got out of hand. You’re welcome, Lexington.
Unfortunately, we all know how this story ends: two Lexington-led teams ended up in the final match. The Grins forced a double final, and Drew of The Green Beards let in a heartbreaking own-goal in the second final game, forcing an overtime re-joust for a golden goal. The tournament ended when Nick McLean ripped a perfect shot, bulging the net, costing Nate’s team the trophy, the glory, and the fame (for the second time in three weeks). Everyone was very gracious, no one acted like a dick, and we made a solemn promise never to forget the events that transpired this weekend. It was very special.
I don’t mean to get all sentimental but I just don’t know how else to sum up this trip. Personally, I felt like I connected with a bunch of people that I didn’t give a fair chance in the past. And that’s really what I love about bike polo; I feel like we’re all constantly growing up and balancing out. This sport has forced me to become more understanding of myself and more in tune with others. I can more effectively balance out my aggression and passion, and I can see what connects my friends to each other and to their friends in other clubs. Ok, now that all that mushy bullshit is out of my system, I’m going to go to pickup and knock some rookies off their bikes. See you next time, Lexington! -ZS
THESE ARE THE MISSING PARAGRAPHS ABOUT MY ROAD TRIP DOWN TO KY
***At 11:30pm on a Thursday, Colin Scott Dees (@CSDEES) picked me up in his ancient 1990 Audi and we hauled ass out of Boston. As a newly appointed NAH Eastside Rep, I was exhausted from my responsibilities so I fell asleep pretty much instantly. After a few wrong turns in New Jersey, we made it to Crown Heights in Brooklyn around 4am where we bodysnatched Nate Mumford (@nate_mumford) and all his gear. So now that all three of us were in the same car, we kicked off our bro-road-trip towards Kentucky. We were the only three Northerners heading to Lexington for this tournament and that was about all that we had in common. It was nice to pick their brains about how their clubs work, how they approach the game, and what they look for in teammates. However, as soon they started talking about cyclocross I fell the fuck asleep and drooled all over myself, because that shit is boring.
Now I am not a religious man, but I thank God for troopers like Colin. This dude drove 18 straight hours all the way from Boston to Lexington, stopping only a few times to roll a splif and eat a banana. I was astonished that he didn’t ask me or Nate for any help with the driving at all, and believe me, we offered. To be fair, his shitty old car was full of quirks— our phones kept dying as there was no place to stick in a phone charger, and we ran out of gas on the goddamn highway because of a faulty gas gauge. But Colin took full responsibility: he assembled one of the bikes in the trunk, rode the wrong way down the highway for a mile to the nearest gas station, and filled an emptied gallon jug water bottle with enough fuel to get us back on the road. He’s a peach, and I wish him nothing but happiness and wealth for the rest of his days. Also I hope he gets a better car.***