TO THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM BEING SPRING-LOADED TO THE "I'M OFFENDED POSITION"...
The term "you guys"when used by the author is not intended to be gender specific and is simply a derivation of Wes' mid Michigan accent as opposed to the thumb of Michigan version of "Youzguys" which equates to any group of persons who happen to in his mind, at any having been given time in any given rambling, mall meeting, ice fishing, car in the ditch, blizzard, smelt dipping, snowball fight, deer camp, I-75 accident, pasty order, canoe trip, armed robbery, factory lay-off, unemployment line or hockey game. Thank you for your understanding. If, however, you still feel offended or about to be offended, simply go and get yet another "coexist" bumper sticker and apply it across your computer screen.
It was March of 1978, early in my second term at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach and my family had come down to visit me. Along with my younger sister, her friend from high school and my roommate we all went to this theater in South Daytona to see “Saturday Night Fever.” We got there and the theater manager demanded to see our I.D. because it was an “R” rated movie. At that moment I discovered that I’d left my wallet in my dorm room. He would not let us in because I could not prove that I was 18… of course I was actually 20. Okay fine- we drive all the way back to the dorm, I get my wallet and we drove back to the theater and I showed the guy that I am in fact 20 years old. Now he refuses to let us in because, “the feature began four minutes ago and I do not want to disturb the audience.” Okay, now I’m pissed because this guy is just being an asshole. An argument begins with me telling him straight up that he’s being an asshole. Finally he turns to his ticket girl and says, “Mary,” or whatever he name was, “call South Daytona Police.” Now I cool down a little and say, “Okay… let’s just discuss this in a business-like manner.” With that he reaches across his candy counter and shoves me on the shoulder while brat-shouting “NO!” Yep… there I am in my hockey jacket with the patches of four different leagues on it and he decides to put his hand on me. NOT a good move. I looked at the little ticket girl and calmly said, “Mary, call South Daytona Police,” and over the counter I went! What I did not know was that this guy was such an asshole that he caused a confrontation nearly every night and then called the cops. As a result, the SDPD were parked in a two-man car just out front of the theater. Thus, in a matter of minutes two officers came through the door and found me stuffing that jerk’s head into the popcorn machine while my sister looked on like, “There he goes again” and my roommate looked on in shock along with my sister’s friend. I’ll never forget the cop pulling me off of that jerk and as the asshole lifted his head there was a piece of popcorn lodged behind his ear. “I want him arrested for assault and battery!” the asshole demanded to the cop as he pointed at me. “NO WAY!” I demanded pointing back, “It’s mutual combat! He touched me first! He’s got no business putting his hand on me!” The officer looked at the little ticket girls and asked, “Is that right? Did he touch him first?” The girl nodded “yes” and I snarled, “Right and maybe they’ll put us both in the same holding cell and I can finish you off!” With that the two officers separated us by a wide distance and one took the asshole’s story while his partner took my story. Then both officers met talked briefly and my officer returned and asked if I wanted to file a complaint ? I said if the jerk files I’ll file. He said that they were clearly informing the manager that he is lucky that I did not retaliate much more violently and he could easily go to jail tonight if I wished to send him there. I said that all I wanted to do was see a movie. The officers met again and then my officer returned. “I wanna tell you,” he said, “don’t ever do something like this again. Having said that I have to tell you that we get so much trouble from that guy that my partner and I have always wished to come through those doors and find someone doin’ that to him. You just made our whole month.” Then he explained that I could write to the theater chain’s office and complain and that my friends and I could come back the next evening and the manager has been warned not to hassle us in any manner. We came back the next night and saw the movie… of course I had to order popcorn. That night I decided that I needed to put that hockey player in me away if I was going to be a professional aviator and I pretty much did that. Of course my wife would likely dispute that, but I think it’s true. I do, however, give myself two Hansons for that head in the popcorn machine thing.
I was a late comer to the great sport
of hockey because hockey fever and the Saginaw Gears did not arrive in Saginaw
Michigan until 1972. Indeed there was amateur hockey there prior to that, but
for me skating was normally done on the rink that my Dad made in our backyard
each winter. Then came the new Saginaw Civic Center, Wendler Arena and
professional hockey. I was hooked immediately and I had one great advantage in
my development in the fact that my Dad became the Zamboni driver for the Gears.
Being a son of a Zamboni driver has one important advantage- all the free ice
time you can want. Thus, I began playing hockey as a very good skater. Therein
resided one drawback; I found myself permanently stuck as a defenseman.
Very often I tried to convince the
coaches that I could play forward, that I could score goals, that I could put
the puck in the net… and I always got the same answer, “Yer the best backward
skater we’ve got, I need you on D.”
Considering that I also had the world’s
suckiest slapshot I never got a goal from the blue line. Sure I got some
assists and I had a wrist shot that would thread a needle but I was always stuck
in the blue line with my sucky slapshot. Once when I did eventually become a
forward I reflexively tried a slapshot that was so bad when I returned to the
bench my coach just snarled, “If I ever see you do that again, yer’ never getting’
off the bench.” Yep- my slapshot sucked- so scoring from the point never
happened for me.
Another one that I heard all the time
when I’d complain that I wanted to go off of defense and score goals was, “You could
be an offense of defenseman… Like Bobby Orr.” To which I always answered, “I
ain’t Bobby Orr, and this team ain’t the Boston Bruins. If I leave the point
none of these guys are savvy enough to drop back and cover it.” And there the
discussion always ended.
Coach after coach, team after team,
season after season, winter league, spring league I went through the same
drill. Finally in February 1976 toward the end of the season I was playing in
Midland. Michigan at the old outdoor rink. As luck would have it that night, my
team was stocked with one extra defenseman. Again I went to the coach and
nagged to play up front. “Okay,” he groaned with resignation, “you can be right
wing on the third line.”
On my first shift that night I picked
up a bouncer in the slot stretched around behind the net to the right side and
back- handed it into the lower corner on the wrap-around. My very first shift
as a forward and I scored a goal. I picked up the puck, skated back to the
bench, handed it to the coach and said, “Here, save this for me.” He just shook
his head and said, “From now on yer’ a forward.” I picked up two assists that
night and we won the game 4 to 3.
Following season I was playing in the
juniors and as we started training camp the coach was one that I had previously
argued bitterly about letting me play forward. In fact that dispute became so
inflamed that led to my departure from the high school hockey league. Of
course, I got a call the next day asking me to come and play in the midget
leagues- where they promptly stuck me on D. Now as I went to start my first
practice with the Saginaw junior B team I walked up to my old coach and he
asked how I was “feeling.” I knew what he meant so I just told him that I had a
new outlook because I was a forward now. He simply shrugged and said, “Okay, I’ve
got lots of D this season.” He and I got along VERY well that season as I got
my share of goals and even ended up starting.
For some crazy reason after all these
years I kept that stupid puck. The same one that I scored my first goal with
and then gleefully carved into it the date and the words, “first goal.” It’s
funny how years later, okay… Decades later, you can clearly remember little
events such as the one represented by that puck. I close my eyes I can still
see it going right through that corner as the goaltender stretched in vain to
try and stop it. I guess the wrinkle in my brain where that memory resides
takes up the space where something like algebra should be stored, but couldn’t
This blog is by Wes Oleszewski, cartoonist and author of the world's only aviation and aero-space editorial cartoon strip, Klyde Morris. In the aviation industry, anybody who is anybody has read Klyde Morris. Thus if you are in this industry and you have never read Klyde Morris, you are a nobody- and you must quickly visit klydemorris.com so that you may finally become a somebody.
Wes has been drawing Klyde Morris since 1978 stopping only to take part in a career as an professional pilot. After 3 different airlines and one corporate operation, he can now state flatly that he has had the privilege of working for 4 of the worst air carriers in the nation. Thus, he went back to cartooning.
Sometimes... okay... most of the time, Wes has more to say than can be said in a cartoon and so we have this blog.