My first memory of Simon Skinner was about 7 1/2 years ago, before I’d ever played a kickball game, and before I even really gave a shit about kickball. I was a member of the Goats’ dodgeball team—during the Bleeding Kansas Dodgeball League’s inaugural year—and, for what I can only believe was conspiratorial, he reffed effectively literally every single game of ours.
And I loathed him. Much like, as I recall, he loathed me.
We both played on competitive teams replete with aggressive and argumentative athletes, and neither of us ever wanted to lose. And, I’m guessing in part because we didn’t have the kickball-buffer so many other players in the BKDL had, we only had that aggressive I’m-going-to-throw-shit-at-you-as-hard-as-I-can-in-close-quarters relationship so many others hadn’t experienced (unless, of course, you were on Das Boot or the Goats in the early kickball years), so it was only semi-natural we didn’t exactly get along. People didn’t hang out after dodgeball outside of with your teammates; there was no Replay/Harbour party—though we tried Taproom on a handful of occasions with limited success (I blame the bartender, Soobaru).
So it wasn’t really until the second season of dodgeball, as I recall, that Simon and I really had a chance to acquaint with one another. (Outside of that time in the BKDL’s first Final Four when I bent over to pick up a ball and he blasted me as hard as he fucking could into my defenseless left ear and I went deaf for what felt like eight goddamn years.)
These things kinda happen between eventual friends.
Since then we’ve gone on to help build a championship KVKL team, develop a litany of inexcusable and entirely unfunny inside jokes, forget who owes who the next drink, ND NU, and accept Matt Cosgrove as a friend.
And in my nine years of KVKL-ship—which isn’t exactly a lot compared to so many others—it’s easy to lose sight of ultimately the most important part of this league. I’ve written about community on here before—maybe two years ago—but when you see (or in my case hear about) a good friend going down and going to the E.R., your first thought isn’t about that team’s score or how you played that day or the upsets around the league—it’s about your friends and colleagues with whom you share an unhealthy obsession for kickball and beer. Also winning.
Yeah, sure, maybe we’ve all, in his words, wanted to kick his teeth in at some point or another. But we all know no one really wants that—for him or anyone—even the people we say we loathed when we met them.
There are proverbs for everything. And one I will forever share is from William Blake: The bird a nest; the spider a web; man, friendship.
So here’s this week’s (first) MOVIE POSTER MONDAY:
I’ve had the pleasure of playing on the same team and winning championships with you; the displeasure of playing against you and getting my ass handed to me by you; MG&Cing and Battlefield & Chilling together; spent hours looking for Jalen Rose with you; lying about getting married and then going to Brothers with you; and making a genuine ass of myself because (and with) you for (probably) too many years.
So. Here’s to (probably) too many more, ya douchebag.