CHEAP EATS Mz. Grizz is tall and beautiful with a gleam in her eyes that says both I have something funny to add and, if you put a football in her hands, I will knock you over like a freight train hitting bowling pins.
If we played tackle instead of flag football, she would lead the league in yardage and touchdowns, and probably a lot of people would quit. As it is, her area of dominance is the defensive line. And the bowling pins are the opposing team’s O line.
I know I wouldn’t want to quarterback against her. Other hand, if I am totally honest (which I mostly totally am), I haven’t always exactly loved being Mz. Grizz’s teammate either. There’s the generational gap that bebaffles me to most of my teammates at least some of the time, and there was this thing I overheard her say once on the sideline: “I don’t care whether we win or lose,” she said. “I’m in it for the personal glory.”
Which statement bristled me for a while, even though I knew she was saying it to be funny — a twist on it’s how you play the game.
I must have been in a bad mood. Meaning: we must have just lost. Because for me, partially, it is whether you win or lose. That’s what makes it sports. And, in particular, team sports. Supposedly, although spelling is not my forte, there is no I in team. But this was a long time ago.
And, alas, there is an I in time.
Like a lot of our team, Mz. Grizz is a med student. Still, she manages to make more practices than anyone. And games. And she plays and practices –- and eats, it turns out — with an endearingly fierce and bearlike voracity.
Coach’s 35th birthday party was not the first time I got to eat next to Mz. Grizz, but it was the one that won me over. All the way, and in spite of any previously held differences of opinion regarding queer politics or English spelling.
Hers was the biggest plate of food I have seen since the days of Ann’s Cafe. And the way she pinned her ears back (in the parlance of pass-rushing specialists) and tackled it … it earned my undying respect and admiration. It was, in fact, glorious. And I understood.
I mean: first of all, we’re talking Celia’s — which should change its name to Surrealia’s — in San Rafael. I forget what they called the plate, but it had tacos, enchiladas, flautas, chile relleno, steak, beans, rice, and just basically all-things-Mexican all over it. And Mz. Grizz picked up her fork and knife with this super-sexy look, and fucking sacked its ass. I’m not saying it was quick. Or easy. You could tell she was using all her moves: the spin move, the stunt, the club, the rip, the hoop, the inside-out sock…
And those were just the ones that I saw! For the most part my attention was drawn to the wide-screen TV at the opposite end of Celia’s banquet room, on which the 49ers were all-of-the-above-ing it to the Green Bay Packers.
Also I had my own plate to deal with: big, yummy grilled shrimps with beans and rice and a big ball of salad dolloped quite pleasantly, thank you, with pico de gallo.
Everything was great. Warm, fresh-made chips and hot table salsa kept coming, margaritas happened, and Coach presided very thirty-fivishly at the head of the table, until the mariachi band came over from the main dining room behind a small flan with a single lit birthday candle in it.
They sang in Spanish. They sang in English. And by the time Coach wished for another winning season this Spring and blew out the candle, her birthday dessert was mostly melted wax. Yum!
While everyone else was woohooing her, I hugged and high-fived Mz. Griz, who was just then putting the finishing hurt on her quarterback. I think it was called “The Perfecto Special.” Look into this.
“You’re my hero,” I said.
Then, very mysteriously, everyone started disappearing into the restroom in pairs and coming back with each other’s pants and shirts on. Kids! Then they all went bowling across the street, but Hedgehog and I, being old, came home.
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