Marovich and I played our first round of tennis last night for this season. It felt so good. We decided to serve and volley for the cardio, rather than play out actual points…except that Marovich couldn’t stick to the script…she cannot resist abruptly ending a great back-and-forth volley with one of her decisive killer shots. Sadly, in neither racquetball nor tennis is my 1.5″ height advantage over her 5’4″ Mighty Mouse physique any advantage at all.
Post-tennis, Marovich tried schooling me on hockey, since our Chicago Blackhawks are once again in the Stanley Cup play-offs, and we were watching the game. “They made a point!” I squealed, caught up in the excitement of the last minutes of the tight game. Marovich’s head whipped around faster than Regan in The Exorcist, scowling at me in disgust and shaking her head. “Promise me you will never utter those words again. They scored a goal.” My sports vernacular is sorely lacking, but at least I didn’t ask “How many quarters are there in a game?” like her brother Joe once did, which I brought up right away, attempting to make myself look like less of an idiot. It feels like for the past several months the Blackhawks been in some form of play-offs, and every time I specifically asked, “So when do they actually play for the Stanley Cup???” Marovich would deliver this long-winded explanation of all of the play-off games and series they’d have to complete…with my ADD, it was forming this confusing, infinite M.C. Escher painting in my mind’s eye, and sounding a lot like Charlie Brown’s muffled teacher…I think there was something in there about having to sacrifice albino virgins during high tide in a harvest moon. I know nothing about hockey, but I did have my Blackhawks brush with greatness back in the early ’90s when the Hawks were playing for the Stanley Cup. Blackhawks player Chris Chelios lived in the same Oak Brook neighborhood where I was working out of Jan Gabriel‘s home, writing and producing motorsports TV series, “The Super Chargers.” Jan even shared the same cleaning lady, so I knew which house was Chelios’. (She steadfastly refused my requests to steal a pair of his boxers.) The morning after they lost the Stanley Cup, I drove past Chelios’ home and there was this guy passed out on his front porch. I was actually concerned he might be dead, so I pulled over, got out of my car, and poked at his unconscious body with my foot. He stirred a little, and I recognized who he was, and that he was just drunk. I rolled him over so he wouldn’t aspirate on his own vomit (Hey, with my anxieties, SPINAL TAP is a cautionary tale). The snoring carbon life form was one of Chelios’ Blackhawks team mates, who shall remain nameless. I didn’t follow the Blackhawks too closely after that, but perhaps my random act of kindness was some sort of tipping point, like George Bailey saving his brother from drowning, or preventing the grieving pharmacist Gower from that deadly pill prescription error in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I’ll never know… and I’ll never know sports speak without the benefit of Marovich’s incessant, stern coaching.