A few days later, Scotty called to say there was a chance he would be starting in Gordon’s season-opening tournament. As the proud and protective older sister, I knew I just HAD to be there. Never mind that the tournament was 15 hours away in Ohio. I’d figure out a way to get there.
I coerced two of his friends into making the drive with me and headed up to the basketball office to get directions. Well, who would be in the office that day but Ethnic Boy. The unsportsmanlike football player. The seminary student. I explained to him who I was and that I needed information on where the tournament was so I could drive out to see it.
Ethnic Boy was very nice. He gave me directions and then said, “Do you need to borrow my car to get there?” It was just weird – who offers their car to a total stranger to drive half-way across the country? I just said no and walked away because anyone that weird should be avoided.
I found out later that Ethnic Boy, um, I mean Ben, was in his third month of seminary – his first foray into the world of “Christian Community” outside of the Indian culture. He claims he didn’t know how Christians were supposed to act in that environment, and he just assumed we all shared everything just like the early church did in Acts. I’m not using my car this weekend, would you like to drive it to Ohio, that kind of thing.
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After 17 hours (we got lost) in a very small car with my little brother’s friends, I was a bit cranky. After watching my little brother get beat by 50 points (if anything, that’s an under-estimation), I was even crankier. Actually, at that point, pretty much everyone was cranky. And, pretty much everyone was there: my dad, my mom, my youngest brother Marky, Scotty’s girlfriend-at-the-time.
We all circled back at the hotel where the team was staying. And, as we were sitting there waiting, down the stairs come three of the assistant coaches. My potential boyfriend alert notified me that at least two of those coaches were single, and I thought a snarky comment in their direction might be fun.
Now, obviously, Ethnic Boy (I promise we are getting to the point of this story where I actually learn and begin to use his real name) was probably immediately taken by my beauty when he saw me walk into the gym after 17 hours in a very small car. I think he may have even asked about me. But it was probably the snarky comment that really got his attention, especially given that he probably believed Christian School Girls don’t make comments like that because they are singing hymns to each other while lowering their eyes as boys approach.
Either way, by the time I walked back into the gym the next morning for the team’s second whooping in 24 hours, I was looking much cuter, and he was on his game. I think he figured since the team had 14 coaches (or was it just 6), he could be distracted long enough to figure out a way to talk to me.
He approached me with a camera and asked me if I wouldn’t mind taking pictures during the game “for the team’s media guide.” I was actually sort of on the lookout for an in with the team so I could get rides to away games, so I immediately agreed. I didn’t know at the time that the camera did not belong to the athletic department, but to Ethnic Boy, and that the athletic department had actually hired a company to take care of the media guide. As my dad would say, smooth move ex-lax. You insured that the cute girl in the boot-cut jeans and yellow lace shirt (yes I remember exactly what I was wearing) would have to return the camera and you could talk to her when you weren’t supposed to be concentrating on how not to lose by more than 20.
The plan worked. I returned the camera and officially met “Ben.” He asked if I would be attending the post-game cookout at one of the players’ homes, I said yes, and so began one of the more awkward days of my life.
Why awkward? Well, I knew that Ben and I would be talking. I also wanted to keep my options open to see if there were any other non-freshman basketball players or coaches that would pique my interest. I also had already arranged to spend the whole day with my baby brother Marky since we didn’t know anyone there. I also had my dear Dad keeping an eye on me the whole time. And there was also Melvin.
Melvin was a friend of some people on the team. He was apparently a Harlem Globetrotter. He was also quite loud with his inappropriate references to my body. (Did I mention my Dad was in the room?) While Melvin’s inappropriateness led to my discomfort (although I can always take a compliment, offensive as it may be), I think it lit a fire under Ben, and he decided to work a little harder for my company.
I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t enjoying the attention, but Marky, who was all of 12 at the time, wasn’t enjoying it so much. Neither was Scotty, who escaped outside amid whispers that “Coach Ben is mackin’ on Scott’s sister!” (Yes, “mackin’.” It was 1999.) It wasn’t easy to miss. I’ve already described the lack of diversity on this basketball team, and I was surrounded by surprisingly high levels of melanin.
As I drove away from this party in a car with my family, I nonchalantly pretended nothing had gone on. No flirting or promises of future get-togethers. But Dad wouldn’t let me off the hook (and Marky still hasn’t). “Sus, what’s with working the multi-cultural corner of the room?!” Giggle, giggle. “Seriously, Sus, what’s with Indian Hot Pants wanting to marry you?”
Giggle. “Oh, Dad. He doesn’t want to marry me.” Giggle.
I suppose one moral of this story is that Dad is usually right.
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