I joined the lacrosse team in my first year of college at San Diego State University (SDSU). Lacrosse isn't very big in southern California. And, I'm not very good at it. I never played on a team, but with pals in the yard. But, since I was from NY, they figured that I must be a "natural" and so they recruited me. Being new in a huge new city, this was a way to make some friends.
Lacrosse was "Club" sport in the school's eyes — which meant that they let us use the fields, but we had to buy our own equipment, pay for the refs, etc. It was while hanging out with these guys that I discovered the extent of my wild side. We made "Animal House" look like well-behaved cub scouts. Some of those "tell-able" stories could make this blog as we go.
One weekend, we were playing "away" in LA, taking on UCLA on Saturday; and then USC on Sunday. The way it works is that the hosting team provides the hospitality — shoving over to make room and accommodation in their dorm rooms, apartments, etc.for the visiting team. After-parties are required in college. And beer is the number one equalizer at a college party.
So we played em. We beat em! I got my only goal of the season in this game. I remember getting clocked-hard, too, sending me to the sideline for a short while as stars and tweety birds circled my head.... I remember laying there, dirt in my teeth... snapping out of the 'ditz" when our goalie, Doug ( a real-deal bushy-bushy blonde hair surfer dude ) ran all the way down the field as I was layed-out flat on the field probably blinking out of one eye..... dazed with players and the refs we paid for, hovering. Doug looked at me for a few moments with great concern and quips, "Woah, dude. Hey can I have your helmet?" I snapped out of it with the hilarity of the moment. Laughing. Groaning. I was fine but took a break to get some Gatorade. "Fuck you, Doug...lol...."
I remember we had a great time at a party that night.... and that we all woke up Sunday morning, hungover of course, in time to watch the USA hockey team play the Swedes(?) at 9am, in the exciting year they won the Gold.
Unshaven, sleepy, stinky, still drunk and gross....
We got up and swerved down the dorm hallway to somebody's room to watch the game for breakfast. We play USC at 2pm. I'm sitting on a smallish couch with two dudes of whom I don't know. I learned that at UCLA, the rich kids wake and bake for breakfast. I'm 18 years old, in a new huge city, it's 9AM in a stranger's dorm room in LA, watching hockey, puffing weed from one of those three-foot bongs that you have to stretch your arm all the way out in order to light, with a buncha hungover jocks that I don't know; and of whom am unlikely to see again outside of the game schedule.
They guy next to me conked-out halfway through the first period, napping with his head on my shoulder. Gone. Snoring. For the rest of the game.
Wouldn't ya know it?
The USA team wins!!!!!! We're stoked. Awake, by now. It's time to shower, eat and ride over to USC to kick their ass. It's going to be a hot day.
As we leave the dorm room, thanking the guys from the UCLA for a great time, etc., I lightly make note of the stubbly napper. "Man, that guy was pretty wiped out. Was he on the team? I didn't recognize him? ... jeez, yada yada...." humored by the episode.
It was here, when the UCLA host dude leading us down the hallway back to our rooms in concierge fashion turns and looks at me with a curiously strange expression that tells me he thinks I'm a dumbass — and matter-of-factly states: "You don't know who that was."
His cold blank stare suspending a collective silence over the group, halting in the hallway.
"Who is it?" I crack.
He looks at us all, realizing none of us know cuz we're dumbasses...... "That's John Kennedy, Jr."
"Oh, Okay. Hm." I acknowledged, probably appearing underwhelmed.
Now, I knew who John Jr. was and that we're about the same age. But, I was young and didn't realize the magnitude of Jr's significance. I didn't give a rip. Whatever.
How did this happen?
Apparently — the way I understood this — was that John was out for the weekend from Brown University (where he attended) visiting his best pal (attending UCLA). — out to party with his best pal for the weekend. It was in his best pal's room where we collected to watch the hockey game.
A few years later while at a Safeway supermarket check-out line, I as a post-graduate by now, saw the People magazine on the rack with John-John on the cover, looking all cleaned-up, royal and super-classy with a headline declaring him as the "Most Eligible Bachelor in America...." and something about Daryl Hannah.
By now, I had just finished college where we studied the hell out of the Kennedy years... I was now mature enough to understand the magnitude of the Kennedys and thus, the size of my encounter.
And that's when it hit me with massive impression. "Wow!" And I started to chuckle in the overdue full realization.
The elderly lady in line next to me, also looking at the same magazine on the rack in front of us, sighing, "He sure is gorgeous," privately salivating in her crushing gaze.
If you let it, life leads a more interesting path than one could ever pave.