Ever since I was a boy, I wanted to be good at sports. I wanted to impress my friends. I wanted to make buzzer shots and last minute touchdowns. Like any boy, I watched my heroes on TV. I leapt into the air with Jordan when he won a championship with the Bulls.
I wanted to be a hero too. I dreamed of being carried off by my teammates after making some grand play. There was only one problem. I was a complete theater bitch.
I was talking about football once and forgot the word ‘quarterback’ just as our school’s quarterback passed by. I pankiced and pointed at him, “Oh he? He plays the lead! He’s not one of the understudies on the bench. He’s the star.”
In spite of my lofty dreams, I had no athletic ability at all. In fact, the first time I threw a football everyone knew I didn’t have a dad.
I did play football once. It was Little League. They made me a lineman. It was a dick move. I was a very little person; I still am. And they make it my job to protect the main character? I didn’t audition for that part. I would’ve loved the role of team manager, maybe something backstage. I just wanted to be part of the cast. I don’t even know where a lineman was supposed to stand. I had missed a week of rehearsals. The stage manager led me to my position, and of course, the kid across from me is the size of the black dude from The Green Mile.
When they blew the whistle, this kid hit me so hard my shoulder made a divot in the ground. I dislodged myself, got up, walked off stage, and took off my football costume—because that’s what I called it.
I was done. The director ran up to me and gave me a speech about quitting. When he asked me if I was a quitter, I said, “Sir, you obviously didn’t see what just happened. I am going to be ten on the right side of my body for the rest of my life.”
The director forced The Green Mile to apologize to me, which even I, as an injured ten-year-old, knew he shouldn’t have to do. This tree-sized child didn’t do anything wrong. I should be off somewhere playing Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh or something.
Green Mile walked up to me, blocked out the sun, and in a voice that sounded like pure peanut butter said, “I’m sorry”. In just two words his voice changed three times, I instantly turned my back on him and began counting the other kids. When I finished counting, I turned back to him and said, “We’re all ten here, sir. Why the hell are you forty?”
I didn’t even make it to intermission. I knew there was no way I was getting through four acts of football. I never set foot on that stage again.
Josh Johnson is a working comedian in Chicago. Look for his shows at the Laugh Factory or another of Chicago’s dynamic comedy and improv clubs.