Sunday, June 17, 2007

Eccentricity: Blumming It in Bonners Ferry: Sunday Scribbling

When I've acted eccentrically, it's been my attempt to cover failure.

When I was in high school, I played basketball and baseball. The older I got, the less successful I was.

First, a little back story. I played basketball for the Kellogg Wildcats in North Idaho. We Wildcats loved imitating other players, mostly NBA players, and mostly players with eccentric shooting styles, but also our high school opponents.

Our favorite player to imitate was a star at Wallace High, our chief rival. Bob Blum ran up and down the court with his fists high on his ribs and his elbows pointed straight behind him. When Bob Blum was introduced as a starter at the beginning of each Wallace game, he leapt up, raised his fist, and greeted his teammates "rah rah" style.

It may not sound funny to you, the reader, but we found it hilarious, and imitated him all the time, at basketball practice, in the halls at school, at dances, anywhere.

In our Kellogg way of talking, we called it "Blumming It". When I go to my high school reunion this summer, I guarantee that a handful of us will, when we see each other, Blum It.

My junior year in basketball, by midseason, I had been relegated to the bench.

It hurt me. I compensated with eccentric behavior.

For example, late in the season we Kellogg Wildcats made our annual trip to Bonners Ferry, in North Idaho, nearly to Canada. In the Bonners Ferry gym, both teams' starting five was introduced in a spotlight.

Three of us on the Wildcat team wore a warmup jersey that didn't match the others. These jerseys were about six years old and were white with "Kellogg Wildcats" written in cursive font.

We called these warm ups the "albino". No good players wore the albino. I loved wearing the albino. It put me in my place as a scrub and made me stand out. I found it eccentric and funny.

In Bonners Ferry, our starting five was introduced in the spotlight. On this night, when the last starter had been introduced, I leapt up, raised my fist, threw my elbows straight back, and joined the starters in the spotlight, wearing the albino, faked rah rah enthusiasm, and shouted, "Let's go! Let's go!"

I startled the starters.

I pissed off our coach.

My benchmates doubled over laughing, especially as the spotlight exagerrated the shadow of my elbows thrown back.

I returned to bench and they all gave me skin. "You're fucking crazy, man!"

I Blummed It in the Bonners Ferry spotlight.

I masked the pain of my decline as an athlete by being eccentric.

It's been a lifelong practice.

Maybe another time I'll tell other stories, but that's it for now.

For other Sunday Scribblings on Eccentricity, go here.


Christy Woolum said...

Where was I when you guys were Blumming It? I must have been up in the balcony practicing my flute fingerings for Kansas City of Hail Alma Mater.

Student of Life said...

Hilarious. Absolutely hilarious.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

I always wondered where that fist in the ribs, elbows back stance came from. I remember you doing it in the halls, etc - but I obviously was not in the loop on where it originated. (One of those guy things - inside joke).

I was trying to remember the Bonner's Ferry game. You see, I had this super crush on one of the Bonner's Ferry guys. Can't remember his name now, but we wrote a letter or two my Junior year. (He may have been a yr ahead of us.)

When they came to Kellogg the next time, he was not playing. We sat in the stands and talked. He had lost one of his eyes in an accident, but he was still handsome.

Go Figure said...

Bob Blum...indeed a great basketball player. He did have the quirk you note...but we all had our own quirks too. One game against Moscow, it was 32 to 32 at half time. Bob had scored ALL of our points. True. Yes, we tried to emulate him by actually making a basket, but we never could...we were mostly football players who looked really silly in the short shorts they called uniforms back in those days. (ps, RP, I am going to repost a story I first wrote a couple of years ago about about Bob and another basketball player Hugh Marconi, you have to scroll down and it's called "Frozen")

myrtle beached whale said...

We Blummed it in Legion Baseball too. The best Blummer was Nonny Dot. You might not remember the tragic incident when Bob and Rick St. Amand of Kellogg High both went up for rebound and Bob's thumb popped Rick's eye out. I got to know Bob pretty well during baseball season and I don't think he ever really got over that. Rick lived one block behind me in Smelterville and of course, without depth perception, he was never the same at sports after that.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Pert - wasn't there a pic of you Blumming in the annual - I can see you making that pose plain as day, and I think it is because there is a picture somewhere.

Now because of MBW's remarks, I am wondering if Nonny Dot was also in the picture. . .Ah, the affects of suggestion on the mind. . .Maybe that's all it is. . .

myrtle beached whale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
myrtle beached whale said...

A key element to Blummin-it is the facial expression. Wide eyes, eyebrows arched, closed mouth, with lips stretched tightly into a sort of schezoprenic smile. The look conveys a combination of self-confidence, concentration, and pure glee. I hope Ponderosa does scan and post the photo. It is hard to paint a word picture of Blummin-it. It must be actually seen to be appreciated.

Jen B said...

I understand the humour on top of the pain. I do that all the time in sarcasm. It makes me smile when I see others smile. I think that's why I'm like that. I love making others laugh. Although the coach was angry, it sure made a good memory later on! Thanks for sharing it! I think it was worth the Bumming it!

Jen B said...

bumming it...LOL I mean Blumming it! ROFL