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Sunday, September 30, 2007


In honor of yesterday's game (GO COCKS!!), I'm going to tell you a story, a story that I believe will give you a real feel for what it means to be a Gamecock.

A few years ago, I was glamorously employed as a background person in a series of exercise videos. It was actually a lot of fun. I've never had an actual job*, so it was pretty cool to be the returning hero for a couple of weeks; I was the one the kids were excited to see at the end of the day, not boring old Daddy. And, I must admit, it was pretty relaxing to hang out with grownups for eight to ten hours a day. The catering was another perk (and so Hollywood!) We were exercising all day, albeit in short spurts, so I had to eat like crazy to keep from losing too much weight. At one point, I did a rough calculation and realized I was eating about the same amount as a high school athlete - and losing weight - every mother's dream! The taste of peanut M&M's, shoveled into the mouth by the handful between takes, I will never forget. But, I digress. The videos were filmed at a studio in an old, not-so-genteel part of town, very near Williams-Brice Stadium, Home of the Fighting Gamecocks. The producers had leased a big warehouse, behind a taxi company, down the street from Sonic and across the street from some actual houses.

As it happened, we were filming on the day of the Gamecocks' first game of the season. On that day, my friend (who was a background drudge like me, but also an assistant to the producer/director and choreographer, so much more important than I) was outside having a cigarette. Yup, plenty of fitness people smoke, including my trainer. How do you think they stay so thin? As it happened, she was out there with a very quiet and shy guy from the film crew. The contrast between the crew and us exercise-y people was fun. They were professionals and we were boring housewives. Did I mention the videos were going to be marketed to the ancient, thirty five and up crowd? No? That's probably because I wanted you to think I was some kind of jock. In fact, I was instructed not to mention my age, as I was not yet thirty five. My age was irrelevant; I was the only one without Botox and/or enhanced tatas, so they all looked younger than I did anyway. The film crew was disappointed; many of them had worked on exercise videos for regular people. According to one of the guys, who I knew from my bar-hopping pre-kids days, he was just disappointed that we were all married. He said we were all good looking enough, just married, with kids. I think he was being kind (Thank you, George!) I think they would have preferred hotter, younger exercise ladies.

The crew was made up of really cool people - the kind of people who make me wonder what might have been if I had grown a pair and tried harder instead of having babies and buying couches all the time. They were a lot of fun, and smart as hell to boot. But. I. Digress.

My friend (picture a glamorous blonde who was mistaken, while in New York City, for Kim Catrall) was outside smoking and was joined by one of the crew members. He was the strong, silent type and very cute, in a scruffy band guy/but smart kind of way. The kind of boy who makes me nostalgic for my misspent youth...and almost immediately happy that it's over. This guy never talked, ever, unlike my friend, who's a talker like me. As she tells it, they smoked in silence for quite a while before he turned, ever so slightly, toward her and said, out of the side of his Cool Alt Boy mouth, "Look across the street. You gotta' look." After she recovered from the shock of hearing him speak, she looked.

Across the street was a house, a bit dilapidated, but definitely a house. In the yard of the house was some stuff. A lot of stuff. With price tags on it. In front of the house was a hand-lettered sign, advertising a (fairly obvious) yard sale. Cool Alt Boy informed my friend that they'd been out there every day, the whole time we were filming. It was not clear to him or anyone else whether they were out there year round or just while we were there. The extended yard sale was not enough, though, to make Cool Alt Boy speak. That sort of thing is not exactly unheard of where I'm from. The thing that forced him to speak, pushed him over the edge, was the person in charge of the till.

She was pregnant, so pregnant that she was ready to pop, by anyone's calculation. She was at the stage of pregnancy where it's no longer risky to ask, "When are you due, honey?" She was wearing cutoff jeans, not abnormal in this part of the country, and a belly-baring halter top, also not abnormal 'round these parts. I'm pretty sure none of these things would have forced Cool Alt Boy to speak. The thing that rendered him incapable of not sharing (his girlfriend would have been jealous!) was the fact that the ripe young lady had the word "COCKS" painted across her belly. As in, I say, "GAME," you say "COCKS!!!!!"

All I'm asking you to do is picture it. I wish I had a photograph, but I don't, because I was inside at the All-You-Can-Eat Peanut M&M bar. It doesn't matter if she was a true Gamecock or just trying to drum up business. Being a Gamecock is all about being proud and showing the love, without shame. When I say, "GAME," you better yell, "COCKS!!!!"

Namasté, y'all!

* By the way, it just dawned on me: I once said I never wanted to have a full time job. I'm pretty old and I don't have one yet. Let's see how far I can go with this.

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