Tuesday, September 11, 2012

That's How I Beat Rasta

[Disclaimer: No one in this blog post actually beats Rasta at anything. I just really liked the Aaron Carter reference.]

It was a Tuesday night in September. The air was clear and the night beautiful, set alight by the first twinkles of autumn. On this night, freed for the evening from the confines of rehearsal, a group of musicians set out on a journey of athleticism, passion, victory, and defeat that they would never forget.

They were met at the North Food Court. Basses, altos, sopranos, tenors of all ages came together to gain sustenance for their impending athletic endeavors. Tensions at the meal were few; flakes of Teflon found in stir fry servings at the meal, well, existed, which was disconcerting. Laughter peppered the air around the friends' table, but they knew of the task that lay ahead of them. The beguiling, lactose-y whiles of the frozen yogurt machine were resisted by all as they turned their attention to the mission at hand: a few "friendly" rounds of sand volleyball.

The rag-tag team began their trek to Stepan Fields - those Elysian lands which, with their perpetual volleyball court lighting and proximity to the ever-revered Stepan Center, are perhaps better known as the Fields of Dreams. Once there, the friends, clad in skinny jeans and long-sleeved shirts, baseball caps and flip-flops, found the courts already occupied by serious, RecSports athletes.

Determined not to let the chance at the magical courts slip away, the team took instead to an interim game, a brand of soccer without goalposts, shoes, or even, really, a field. They centered themselves around a trashcan "goal," placed their volleyball on the grass, and began their game. Before long, though, a new element came into play: Rasta.

Rasta, you see, had been watching their game from across the field. He and his companion, Rasta's Small Cousin, had been kicking a ball around themselves - a real soccer ball, with real cleats and real talent - and were looking for people with whom to play a few rounds.

Being kind, generous children of God, the friends decided to let Rasta and Cousin join in their fun. This was, of course, what anyone would do - but Rasta was intimidating. Within minutes, he divided the group into teams with himself at the helm. He stood at the goal, imposing, brooding, dreadlock-ing, blocking shot after shot with a flick of the ankle as he simultaneously talked on the phone and shouted orders at all members of both teams in a language that only sometimes sounded like English. He preached good spirits (largely), but, truth be told, he was frightening.

Eventually, a spot opened up on the courts - opposite a real-life RecSports team. The friends - known forevermore as Team Choir - took their places on the court and began the duel. There were embarrassments; there were small victories; there were more embarrassments. Ultimately, there was a game hard fought by both teams and with a score far less humiliatingly one-sided than could ever have been predicted.

Then, however, came the return of Rasta. His team, an athletic, intimidating posse fresh off their rousing defeat of another authentic RecSports team, was restless and looking for opponents. Just as the restlessness set in, Rasta noticed Team Choir. He swooped in.

"You should play against us!" he insisted.

"No," said Team Choir, "We're really not on your level."

"No, no," Rasta responded. "You play against us. And you play against us now."

With that, Rasta's team glided onto the far end of the court, forcing Team Choir onto one huddled, terrified side as the Rastas forcibly entered the game like a strangely attractive, athletic, nattily-attired army going into battle. The face-off began, and tensions mounted...for Rasta.

On the side of Team Choir, the cause was clearly hopeless, so laughter and song abounded. On the side of Team Rasta, though, all was business.

"Who is singing?" he would demand. "Stop your singing, 'coach,' pay attention to your team!" "Oh, nice shot, coach!" "What are you guys doing?!"

After what seemed like weeks of oddly mismatched competition, game point approached. The score, to the surprise of everyone on the court, was 24-23, with Team Rasta holding tight to the tiny lead. Gone were the early moments of the game, when members of Team Choir could see a familiar waiter among their opponents and engage in the sorts of things that will probably be discussed at this week's "Notre Dame Really Is Full of Losers" Conference Flirting Workshop. This was the time for action. This was the time for war.

In the end, of course, Team Rasta was victorious...and scary. Team Choir's very own Nashty May-Treanor closed out the game with a relatively creepy wink and a "see you soon" from her Team Rasta waiter friend, and the teams headed home. The night was full of surprises and yes, even occasional terror, but it was more filled with friendship and love. (Except for Rasta. His night was just surprise and terror.) Should the time come again some day, dear reader, when you find yourself free from rehearsal and looking for something to do, make your way to Elysi-Stepan Fields, and work your way to Rasta. It will give you a strange night, but it will guarantee you a great one.

[Note: For all of you who are wondering, no, I did not play any volleyball tonight. Or soccer. I did participate in the whole "eating of dinner" part of the evening. From then on, I sat on the sidelines, trying my best to diplomatically laugh equally at everyone and plotting this blog post in my head, as General Manager Cahalan. This is my life. Go Team Choir; beat Rasta.]

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