Archive for Thursday, March 24, 2005

Opinion: Alive but

March 24, 2005

Somewhere over Atlanta --

It's just after 9:30 Friday, March 11, and miraculously, I've escaped the wrath of some deranged convict-murderer who'd terrorized this city for the last several hours. I'm currently cruising at an altitude of 35,000 feet and turbulence is shaking this deathtrap of an airplane like a 300-pound bartender preparing martini mix.

I'm on my way to Miami, to see a friend, get some R & R and catch a Miami Heat game. I'm looking forward to seeing Shaq Diesel and Dwayne Wade play. Right now, I doubt I'll arrive in one piece.

I knew I shouldn't have boarded this airplane. The convict-killer should have been warning enough. A dead bird on the runway that delayed take off, a voodoo-like omen, should have confirmed it. Those what if's are in the back of my mind now more than ever -- air pockets are shoving and pushing my plane around like two sisters embattled in a tug of war over a Raggedy Ann Doll -- and I'm kicking myself for not paying attention to the signs. It's a bullfight with gravity I'm embarked in now, and a tussle I'm likely to lose.

At the end of the month, I'll turn 27, but, up here at the throne of the world, that matters little. I'm about to die, surely.

I scribbled the ramblings above on cocktail napkins and an old notebook while on the plane. My intention for this sports column was to write about the difference in seeing Shaquille O'Neal play on television versus in person (as I learned, there is quite a difference).

However, today, on the heels of the Kansas-Bucknell fiasco, I'm compelled to go in a different direction.

A week to the day after my perceived near-death experience aboard the airplane, I was knee-deep in a situation just as perilous -- rooting for KU in the middle of a Missouri establishment.

Some of my friends asked me to come here, a place on the Plaza, to watch the game. It sounded like a good idea at the time, and I threw on my KU hat before bolting. When I arrived, the game had already begun, and to my surprise, a lynch mob was huddled around multiple televisions screaming crazy.

Hatred and contempt for the Jayhawks fueled these madmen's rage, and the near-riot that was occurring was made worse because someone was feeding booze to these mongrels.

This is a world gone mad, I thought, and I am riding shotgun into the teeth of its insanity.

For 36 minutes of game time I sat in a dark corner, watching the game quietly and speaking in a low voice to my friends. I felt like a gazelle strolling through a pride of lions. When surrounded by predators, it's best to keep a low profile, was my logic.

It mattered little. After Wayne Simien's jumper fell short, the place erupted like . . . like what? Truth be told, I felt like Custer must have felt at Little Bighorn or the Texans at the Alamo.

After the game ended, I headed quickly to the door. The comments rang down heavily upon me and my school at that moment. One redneck really infuriated me, and I was about to respond in kind with a remark about his ugly girlfriend, however, self-control got the better of me.

To my astonishment, I had survived both these moments, air travel and the Missouri establishment, but for what, I asked myself?

My school had been defeated and the subject of my column had changed dramatically, meaning only heartbreak and work remains. Have I committed a sin? Have I been spared for some larger purpose?

These were all valid, omnipotent questions and I pondered them seriously on my long, lonely walk to the loser's club.

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