Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Stumbler

One afternoon during the summer of 2002, before I went to college, I gave my friend The Stumbler a ride home from work. Right before I reached his driveway I saw a long, dark-colored snake on the other side of the road. I made a u-turn in an attempt to run him over, but he was gone by the time I got back. I fucking hate snakes.

Our friend Mr. Mountain Dew was having people over that night, and we made it to his house around 8:00 PM. The Stumbler was taking a few shots from the bottle of Kentucky Gentleman Bourbon he brought, but seemed fine. Then, a few of the other guys decided to play power hour, a game where you take a shot of beer every minute for 60 minutes. This equates to anywhere between 5 and 8 beers, depending on how big the shot glass is.

The Stumbler was reluctant to steal Mr. Mountain Dew’s beer, so he decided to play power hour with a mixture of bourbon and soda. He didn’t take a shot every minute, but he got damn close. By the end of the hour he was slurring, stumbling, and talking gibberish.

Things kept getting worse. After peeing out in the woods, he tripped and bumped his head against the glass door, which cut him pretty good. When blood began to slowly trickle down the back of his neck, I figured it was time to go.

Getting The Stumbler to my car wasn’t easy. Judging by his cuts and moans you would’ve thought we were helping him climb Mount Everest. Every few steps he’d fall on the grass, get up, walk a few steps then fall on the grass again. He scraped his arms and legs, as well as got his clothing muddy.

Finally, we got him to my car where I asked if he was going to puke.

“No, not gon’ puke,” he replied.

“Are you sure? I don’t want you to puke in my car.”

“Yeah’m sure. I not n puke n ‘er car.”

“Okay Stumbles, put your seatbelt on. Can you find it over there...Good.”

Of course, you can never trust anybody that obliterated. Halfway to his house he said, “Pull da car ower.”

I immediately pulled the car into the shoulder, put it in park and got out. Just before I reached the passenger-side door to help him out he started throwing-up. His first spew went all over the side of my car. Once I opened the door I realized the seatbelt was holding him back. Fucking seatbelt. There was no way I was going to reach over his vomit and eject him, so I just watched as puke spilled everywhere.

“You done?” I asked a few minutes later.

“Yup,” he replied.

When I pulled up his driveway I was glad to see that the lights in his house were turned off. I thought that if his parents saw him in this condition, they might kick him out. I didn’t know what to do. If I brought him in the house, I surely would wake his parents up. And I definitely wasn’t going to take him with me.

I did the only thing I could do – I left him passed-out on his driveway, flat on his stomach, covered in his own puke with blood streaming down his head.

I was reluctant to do this, but I didn’t see any other option. There were a few concerns I had. In particular, I didn’t know if he had alcohol poisoning. I took a chance and hoped he didn’t. Second, that big ass snake was still slithering around somewhere. I assumed it was a black snake, but our woods are also loaded with poisonous copperheads. Third, his neighbor had a crazy cat that scratched everything in sight. That little shit was usually caged-up, but I noticed he had escaped from his prison. Fourth, there were all kinds of bugs crawling around his driveway. Fifth, his head was still bleeding a little bit, and I didn’t know if he needed stitches.

Finally, I said “Fuck it.” I got in my stinky car and drove away. I was certain the bugs would bite him and the cat would scratch him. I hoped the snake didn’t get him, his parents didn’t find him and that he didn’t die from alcohol poisoning or loss of blood.

Once I got home I raced inside and looked for whatever cleaning supplies I could find. I brought 409, Lysol and a roll of paper towels out to my car and started cleaning. JD had fallen asleep while watching TV in the basement, and came outside after I woke him up.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“The Stumbler got really drunk and puked all over my car.”

“Oh, that’s gross.”

“You want to help me clean it?”

“Hell no.”

He went inside and went back to sleep as I desperately tried to get rid of the orange vomit on my upholstery. It was a putrid odor that refused to go away. Before the vomiting incident, my car still had the “new car” smell. Not anymore. That bastard better thank me big time for this.

After an hour of cleaning, my car still smelled horrible, but I gave up and went to bed. I had trouble sleeping, though, because I felt guilty for leaving The Stumbler like that. Who leaves their friend passed-out on his driveway with a busted skull?

The next day I called The Stumbler’s house around noon, hoping he would answer the phone.



“Yeah. Hey Ben.”

“Dude, you’re alive! What happened?”

“Oh man. I woke up at some point and found my way into my car. I slept there the rest of the night.”

“So, your parents didn’t find you?”

“My mom walked outside right after I woke-up. She saw that my shirt was bloody and I told her I cut myself.”

“She didn’t see the puke all over your shirt?”

“I guess not.”

“Dude, you owe me. I spent an hour cleaning my car, and it still smells terrible.”
“I’m really sorry, man. I’ll do whatever you want.”

Should we call it even considering I left him half-dead on his driveway?

Later in the afternoon I went to 7-Eleven and bought two cheap air-fresheners for my car. The addition of Mountain Breeze helped a little, but certainly not enough. It took a few weeks before the stench of The Stumbler’s vomit went away.

Keep reading:
The Stumbler: Part II

Leia Mais…

Saturday, March 24, 2007

book excerpt: Forever Sweet Sixteen (Part III of III)

Read these first:
book excerpt: Forever Sweet Sixteen (Part I of III)
book excerpt: Forever Sweet Sixteen (Part II of III)

Monday, September 18, 2000

My parents and I drove to Washington Hospital Center early in the morning. I had an appointment to see Dr. M&M, and also to be the recipient of a needle biopsy. Washington Hospital Center, plain and simple, is in the ghetto. As I sat in the back of my dad’s 1996 Chevrolet Astro Minivan, or what I like to call the Big Red Box, I couldn’t help but notice the men sitting idle on their doorsteps. It reminded me of the movie Friday.

Dr. M&M is a famous surgeon who was one of the first to do limb sparing operations for tumors. My grandma even saw him giving an interview on TV right before I met with him. “I really like this guy,” she said.

After an extremely long wait, he opened the door to my room with a slew of doctors. “Hello Benjamin. Hello Mr. and Mrs. Rubenstein. I’m Dr. M&M, and these are some of my colleagues.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” his right-hand man, Dr. Phil, said.

“Has anyone ever told you that you look like Brian Mitchell?” I asked Dr. Phil.

“Who’s Brian Mitchell?”

“He used to return kicks for the Washington Redskins.”

“Oh, I don’t have time to watch sports.”

“Well, you’ve probably seen him in the newspaper.”

“I don’t have time to read the newspaper,” he said jokingly.

“So, I looked at all your scans,” Dr. M&M interrupted, “And you definitely have a tumor growing in your left iliac crest, which is the top part of your hip bone. It’s probably about eight inches long.”

“Eight inches, really?”

“Just think of how big your pelvis is. Your tumor was probably growing for a good six months before you felt anything. Now tell me about the pain you’ve been having.”

I told him all about my pain, from when it started. I told him how it had been getting worse, and now was at the point where I felt pain every step I took. I told him that sometimes it even hurt in a resting position. He pushed around my lower back for a few minutes and drew a dot showing where he wanted the needle to be inserted. He also gave me specific instructions not to run or jump any more since the tumor weakened my hip. When he was done, he sent me back to the large waiting area until they were ready to do my biopsy.

Dr. M&M is fairly old, with white hair and a white mustache. He always wears a suit and walks as if he has the biggest dick in the world. He never smiles, but he has a quality that always makes me feel good – I think it’s his confidence, which seeps out of his pores and into his patients. It isn’t that he thinks he’s the shit; he knows he’s the shit. He never visits patients by himself, but always with a few other doctors. Most of these “students” don’t speak to the patients, but simply stand there and learn the tools of the trade from their teacher. Dr. Phil learned those tools exceptionally well. He was born in Ethiopia, but you’d never know it from his perfect English.

Monday was the start to my seemingly never-ending supply of long waits to see doctors. Luckily for me, I’ve always been patient, so this was never a problem. I waited nearly an hour until they finally called my name and took me back to another room. When I got into the room, they started me on an IV and gave me a ridiculous amount of Valium, which then made me extremely happy. The man performing the procedure and I had a nice little chat. “Okay Ben, I need to push through your bone, so you may hear the hammer. You might feel it, too. Let me know if it hurts.”

I couldn’t feel a damn thing other than pressure. I began to laugh and said, “Yeah, I can hear the hammer grinding into my bone. That’s funny. Hey man, are you hungry?”

“Yeah, I’m getting pretty hungry,” he replied.

“Good, because I’m starving. When we’re done, you and I are going to McDonald’s, my treat.”

“Hey, that sounds good to me.”

The biopsy guy could have chopped off my toe and I would’ve found it hysterical. Sly came over to my house when I got home that afternoon. “Dude, you look so high right now,” he said, seeing that the Valium hadn’t quite worn off.

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

book excerpt: Forever Sweet Sixteen (Part II of III)

Read this first:
book excerpt: Forever Sweet Sixteen (Part I of III)

Thursday, September 14, 2000

Before leaving school Thursday afternoon I talked to my friend Ink in the lobby. “What are you doing later?” he asked.

“I gotta go see that orthopedic guy.”

“Oh yeah, I forgot. What do you think he’ll say?”

“He’ll probably tell me I have a dislocated hip or some shit,” I said jokingly.

I met my mom at the doctor’s office after school. When he walked into the room he had me stand up and face her. I was butt-naked underneath the gown, so the whole situation was quite awkward. He pushed around my back and ass for over a minute as I stood there getting more and more nervous. Just say it’s a stress fracture! Quit fucking with me.
Finally, after groping me for much longer than I felt was warranted, he said, “Something is definitely growing there.” Growing there – what the fuck does that mean? You want to clarify that?
He then referred me to another orthopedic surgeon located in Washington, DC. “Dr. M&M is one of the best,” he assured me before leaving his office.

When we left I said to my mom, “What is it? What does ‘growing’ mean?”

“I’ll tell you at home,” she replied.

The drive home was the longest 20 minutes of my life. I kept pondering the possible meaning of what he had just said. The word CANCER scrolled through my brain over and over again, but it scrolled too fast to register. When I got home, I waited at the kitchen table for my mom to walk through the front door, my leg twitching nervously. When she did, she slowly walked up the steps with a melancholy look on her face, and sat at the table. After staring at me for several seconds, she gave it to me straight: “Benjamin…you have a tumor.”


That was the turning point in my life, the four words that split it into two distinctly different phases: Phase I is PCB, or Pre-Cancer Ben. My first 16 years, 8 months, 14 days and 16 hours (approximately) cover Phase I. Phase II begins with, “You have a tumor,” and will end the day I die.

After a very long pause she said, “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“No you’re not, I can see you’re not fine.”

“I’m going downstairs.”

I was on the brink of tears, but I didn’t cry that day. I immediately walked downstairs and called my best friend since birth, Sly.

“Dude,” I said in a choked voice, “I have something to tell you.”

“What is it?”

“…I have a tumor.”

After a short pause Sly said, “Oh my God, I think I just shit myself.”

He came over to my house and we played NFL Blitz 2000 on Nintendo 64. I didn’t care what activity I participated in, I just wanted something, anything to do. When my dad came home from work, he immediately went to my room and rubbed my head, then kissed my forehead without saying a word. That night I told my other lifelong best friend, Downtown. In case it was a false alarm I told them, “Keep this to yourselves for the time being. I don’t want to blow it out of proportion if it’s nothing.”

That night my parents called JD, who was away at college, to tell him. I can’t even imagine how he must’ve felt. Sometimes I try to imagine what it would feel like if HE were the one that got cancer, and it makes my stomach hurt every time. My mom also called her sister. Once my aunt heard the news, she started crying.

The next night I was alone in the computer room and I started crying for the first time in years. When it began I was trying to decide whether or not I should cry hard or just drip a few tears. My final decision was to go all out which included the strange noises, head jerking and snot flow. After about two minutes I felt awkward, so I stopped and vowed never to cry again.

I was scheduled for a needle biopsy to determine if the tumor was malignant or benign. In my head I already knew it was cancer. My pain got worse over the months, so it must be growing. That means cancer, right?
On Sunday night I told Sly and Downtown to start spreading the word. I was no longer concerned with how other people became aware of my situation. I just didn’t give a shit any more. I was deliberately dramatic, which isn’t usually part of my personality. “Make somebody cry for me,” I said.

The week before this I was worrying about my AP History test on early American colonies, but after learning I had a tumor, school seemed less important.

Keep reading:
book excerpt: Forever Sweet Sixteen (Part III of III)

Leia Mais…

Friday, March 16, 2007

book excerpt: Forever Sweet Sixteen (Part I of III)

A certain individual said he wouldn't support me because he hadn't read any of my book. For that reason I've decided to share the second chapter to I've Still Got Both My Nuts: A True Cancer Story.

My dad said to me, "If you run out of things to write for your blog, you could add chapters from your book. Nobody would even know."

Although he was right, this will most likely be the only time I show segments from my book.


Update: This is an old version of Chapter 2. As of February 2008 it has been significantly altered.


If time was to stop and I was stuck at one age for the rest of my life, then I would want to stay 16 forever. The only two negatives at that time were not being the legal age to get into an R-rated movie, and the hip thing…

I was 16 and over halfway through my sophomore year of high school in Northern Virginia when it started. I was on the tennis team, not because it was my favorite sport but because I wasn’t good enough to make soccer or baseball. In the first week of practice we had a round-robin tournament to determine seeding.

My first match was against Froddy, also a sophomore. Froddy was a very technical player with a powerful serve, but got frustrated every time he made a mistake. My style of play was simply to run my ass off and hit the ball back each time. Our match was extremely intense and long, spanning over two days of practice and lasting three hours. Every game went into deuce. I had trouble handling his serve and he had trouble putting me away. Finally, as practice was coming to a close on the second day, I won. “Fuck you,” he screamed as he threw his racket at the ground. “I hate this fucking shit!”

On my drive home from practice that day I felt a throbbing pain in my left hip. Am I that out of shape? The following afternoon I started to do the pre-practice run, but every time I landed on my left leg I felt an extremely sharp pain in my hip. I put the pain behind me and continued to run. The season just began; no fucking way am I going to complain about leg pain.

When the season started I was playing mostly doubles with Froddy, who was fun as hell as a partner. After his mistakes he’d get down on himself and start cursing. I constantly had to calm him down: “It’s okay, Froddy. Everything’s gonna be alright, just chill.”

We were a great team and demolished most of our opponents. Unfortunately, my hip was holding both of us back. I tried my best to push through the pain, but I was still much too slow. Eventually, our coach split us up and paired him with another player, while they became the #3 ranked doubles tandem on the team.

I stuck it out the rest of the season and played as hard as I could. Stretching helped some, but there was no avoiding the pain. I took a whole lot of shit from my teammates and friends. “Quit being such a pussy” was commonly said to me.

By the time May rolled around, I knew there was something seriously wrong with me. I decided to wait before I told my parents because my family was going on a trip to Israel at the end of June and I didn’t want to ruin it.

The Israel trip was awesome, and much more fun than I had anticipated. We were in a large tour group, so there were some other kids that JD and I hung out with while my parents absorbed all the history (social studies was always my worst subject). One night in Jerusalem we went to Pizza Hut for dinner. “I’ll have the personal pan pepperoni,” I said.

“What is that?” the waiter asked as the rest of my table started cracking up.

“What are you guys laughing about…oh yeah, the whole kosher thing, my bad. I’ll take a cheese pizza.”

The best part of the trip was climbing Mount Masada, located next to the Dead Sea. Most of the group took the lift up to the top of the mountain, but some of us walked in the 115 degree heat. The past couple weeks I had been in constant pain, even in a resting position, but I was determined to walk up that mountain.

“Are you sure you want to walk this?” my older brother, JD, asked. “It’ll be hard, even for me.”

“Yeah. No way am I sitting this one out.”

I finished the climb in 45 minutes. Once I reached the top I felt one of the worst pains I’ve ever experienced. It was also one of the proudest moments in my life; that, and sticking it out the whole tennis season with an aggressive tumor growing in my pelvis.

When we got home from Israel, I finally told my mom that I should see a doctor, so she scheduled an appointment for me. My family internist told me it was a stress fracture and scheduled me for an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). The radiologist saw something strange on the pictures, so my internist ordered another MRI. A couple weeks later he ordered me to get a bone scan. By this time he must’ve known something was terribly wrong because bone scans are generally used to look for cancer. All the while, I still thought it was a stress fracture. After the scan my doctor said there was nothing else he could do, and sent me to see an orthopedic surgeon.

Keep reading:
book excerpt: Forever Sweet Sixteen (Part II of III)

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

March Madness

2007 NCAA Final Four in AtlantaOn the first day of the NCAA Tournament in the 11th grade I was at home, sitting on my ass in front of the TV. Even if I was healthy that day I wouldn’t have gone to school. It was right before the first tip-off and I was pumped as hell. I had my bracket in one hand, thinking I had the money picks. A bag of Cheetos were in the other hand. Suddenly my phone rang.


“Hey Ben, have the games started yet?”

“Is that you, PepperoniNip? Aren’t you in school?”

“Yeah, I’m just calling from journalism class.”

“They have a phone in there? Damn.”

I heard a voice in the background. It was my journalism teacher angrily asking PepperoniNip what the fuck he was doing, not in those words. “I’m just talking to Ben about basketball.”

“Oh, okay,” my teacher replied.

“Yeah, so they started yet?” he asked again.

“Nah, but they’re about to.”

“I’m going to call back in 30 minutes for score updates, so don’t go anywhere.”

It didn’t take me long to realize that people with cancer have the permission to do just about whatever they want. On the days I was at school I’d often leave class for short periods of time. Usually it was to go to the bathroom, but sometimes just because I was bored. I didn’t need teacher approval or a hall pass – I had a permanent one in my wallet.

That freedom carried over into my senior year, even though I no longer had cancer. Students always showed up late to my homeroom class, including me. In fact, I was late nearly every day, but Mr. Spunkmeyer never gave me shit about it. My friends would often follow me into class late and say, “I had to ride the elevator with Ben to help him carry his book bag.” Spunkmeyer knew they were full of shit.

There was one particular day that I actually needed help carrying my backpack, so I asked PepperoniNip if he’d do it. He agreed, and of course we were late. Spunkmeyer didn’t believe I asked for his help and marked him late. PepperoniNip went home and told his mom, so she emailed Mr. Spunkmeyer to complain. He responded, “PepperoniNip has already been tardy four times this grading period and it’s only the third week of school.”

I even abused my elevator privileges. After a fire drill one morning I let several of my classmates ride up with me. We were already way past the maximum weight limit when Fattypants started jumping up and down. The next day the elevator had an “Out of Order” sign. I had no problem taking the stairs, but the wheelchair students were fucked.

My cancer pass finally ran out at the end of the school year. After my four-millionth consecutive tardy, Spunkmeyer was beginning to get agitated. All you cancer patients out there listen up – you can only milk these things for so long. You have a lot of potential to fuck around; just play it smart.


My 2007 Final Four picks: Florida, Georgetown, Memphis, Kansas. Kansas over Georgetown for the championship.

But, my heart is with Go Wahoos.

Leia Mais…

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Chemo Sprinkles

So, you cut your arm and you don’t know what to do. You gashed it pretty good. Blood is dripping everywhere. The pain is substantial and you can’t stop the tears streaming down your cheeks. Here’s the good news – with our brand-new product you’ll never have to worry about getting gangrene again.
Just Sprinkle Some Chemo On It!*
That’s right, folks. Nothing will survive the onslaught, let alone bacteria or even your own soft tissue.

*warning: May or may not cause secondary infection which may or may not lead to limb amputation or death.

Worried about getting your girl pregnant? Women, are you concerned about gaining weight from The Pill? Throw your worries out the window with Just Sprinkle Some Chemo On It!* Our odorless sprinkles go right on the balls, causing instant testicular explosion and sperm death. The lab rats in our experiment didn’t even feel it, and went on to live healthy, sexually active lives.

*warning: Slow absorption may lead to genetic mutation in sperm. If they manage to impregnate, which is highly unlikely, the child will most likely be an alien life-form. Misshapen dong, inability to urinate and ED are also possible side effects.

Having digestive troubles? Too much, or not enough going out the back end? No longer do you have to revert to those tiny anti-diarrhea pills or nasty laxatives. Just Sprinkle Some Chemo On It!* dissolves fairly well in water and the taste won’t make you vomit too often. We have two different formulas with varying degrees of potency, designed to get you regular again. Our Extreme-Cytoxan formula will even turn your shit fluorescent yellow and highly radioactive. The kids will have a blast with it.

*warning: Internal bleeding occurs 78.34% of the time, although most of our rats recovered after 2-4 weeks. The rest of them use a colostomy bag for life, which they seem to enjoy.

Let’s make shaving become a thing of the past. People spend too much time, money and energy shaving, buying products, and worrying about which to get – the 5 blade or the 10 blade. Our solution is simple, effective, and cheap: Just Sprinkle Some Chemo On It!*
Chemo sprinkles go right on the skin. After three hours of significant burning, the hairs will be gone forever. You heard me correctly – you’ll never have to repeat the procedure for the rest of your life.

*warning: Skin cancer and parasites should be expected to develop at site. If this happens then you already know what to do – Just Sprinkle Some Chemo On It!

Your neighbor’s dog just won’t shut up, huh? He keeps you up at night. He barks at your kids when they walk to the bus stop. Enough is enough. Just Sprinkle Some Chemo On It!* with our special peanut butter scent should do the trick. Our Adriamycin-XXX formula kills instantly, making it look like a doggy stroke. That fucker will croak in a pile of his own shit and guts.

*warning: Chemo sprinkles that aren’t consumed by the dog could potentially leak into the groundwater. If this occurs then evacuation must take place anywhere within 15 miles of leak. After 15 miles the sprinkles will hopefully dissolve to the point of only moderate toxicity.

Disclaimer: Just Sprinkle Some Chemo On It! is not responsible for any damages that may occur. This product is not, and never will be, FDA approved. Many rats were killed during experiments. Not recommended for children and the elderly, as well as adolescents, young adults and the middle-aged. And your dog.

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Hot Fat Injector

Plump, happy Hershey's kissWhen I was five my dad discovered his cholesterol was super high, so he changed his lifestyle right away. My mom started serving dry chicken nearly every night for dinner, and I started eating over at my friends’ houses every chance I got. It’s really a shame because back in the day she’d make some mean dishes like lasagna and chocolate chip cookies. She still makes fabulous honey cake and potato latkes. It’s just that fucking chicken that gets to me.

When I was 10 I started getting cholesterol tests during my yearly checkups. I hated them, but the smiley face sticker the nurse gave me when it was over made it worthwhile. In the 8th grade my cholesterol was 208, which is considered high, and I voluntarily went on a low-fat diet for one year. It’s fucking nuts that a 13 year-old kid would do this, but since both my parents had high cholesterol, I thought it was necessary.

The only two times I ordered pizza that year I said, “I’d like a half-cheese pizza, please.”

“What do you mean ‘half-cheese pizza’?” the Pizza Hut employee asked.

“When the pizza is made, only put half the normal amount of cheese on.”

In the summer of ’98 my family went on vacation to Hershey Park. After riding through the chocolate factory we were all given free Hershey’s Kisses. “I’m not allowed to eat these,” I said as I gave them to my brother. An hour later I couldn’t take it anymore and guzzled two pints of chocolate milk.

One of the best things to come out of cancer was my parents’ newfound lack of concern over my fat and cholesterol intake. Many cancer patients lose weight, and they didn’t want that to happen to me. Not only were my parents willing to buy me high-fat foods, they basically shoved them down my throat. If they had the ability to inject lipids straight into my vein, they probably would (although Cinnabon tends to do that naturally).

During cancer #1 my immune system was normal every third week, so my brother would come home from college and we would all go out to dinner. We always went to a steakhouse because of the high concentration of iron in meat. “We need to stuff you full of steak to boost your hemoglobin,” my mom always said. One night I attempted to eat a 16 ounce steak at Outback Steakhouse. It felt like death.

The permission to become a fatass was my gift. Thanks cancer.

Leia Mais…

Monday, March 5, 2007


Rocky movie posterAs the story goes, when I was three my dad let me watch Rambo: First Blood. Needless to say, my mom yelled at him good. That day very well could've been the beginning to my obsession with Sylvester Stallone’s movie characters; more specifically, his character Rocky. "The greatest underdog story of our time" – I ate that shit up. I was sad when his trainer Mickey died and I was scared the Russian would kill him. I still remember seeing Rocky V in the movie theater when I was six years old. Nobody else was there besides my family and the reviews were terrible, but I still loved it.

In the 9th grade I tutored a girl for her bat mitzvah. A month before her ceremony I decided she was too soft-spoken and needed to speak louder. "I'm going to play a CD while you say your prayers, but ignore it," I said. "It'll be loud, so you just have to speak even louder."

I blasted the Rocky soundtrack to both train her and get her excited for the big day. She thought I was out of my mind. When she told me she had no idea where the music came from, or who Rocky was, I thought she was out of her mind. "It's only the most inspirational character and music ever," I said.

Less than two years later I got cancer. For the next 12 months, from when I found out I had a tumor until the last wave of radiation shot through my body, I left The Rocky Story: The Original Soundtrack Songs from the Rocky Movies in my CD case. I originally stuck it in there because I was afraid I'd need immediate inspiration during one of the hospital trips.

For almost my entire year of treatment I knew I was invincible. I repeat: I knew I was invincible. So I didn't need outside inspiration or motivation and the CD never left the front slot in my case. It was ironic how I had cancer, yet saw myself that way. In fact, I never felt invincible UNTIL I got cancer.

When I got to college I bought a black-and-white Rocky poster. It was a picture of Stallone standing on the front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art with his hands raised. I taped it to my wall above my bed. One day my roommate Dirty-D, J and I were watching TV in my room. J looked at my wall and read the top line of the poster. "'His whole life was a million-to-one shot.' You can't have Rocky hanging on your wall," he said. "You have nothing in common with him."

"So what," I replied. "The only thing you have in common with him is you're both from Philly."

"Damn right we're both from Philly."

"I guess you're right, J. I'll take the poster down immediately."

When J left the room I looked over at Dirty-D and started laughing. "If he only knew."

Months later I found myself back in the hospital with another cancer. This time there was no going home in between chemo cycles. I would have my own hospital room for no less than one month. The only ornament I added was my Rocky poster, which I taped on the bathroom door across from my bed. The doctors and nurses got a kick out of it, and often likened me to Mr. Balboa.

I still thought I was invincible, yet no longer truly believed it. Maybe I hung the poster just so I had something to look at. Or, maybe I needed Rocky that second go around.

Leia Mais…

Friday, March 2, 2007

T-Woods '03

The value of this story lies solely in the fact that it includes Zim, the 4th overall pick in the 2005 MLB draft. We lived in the same hall our first year of college. It should be noted that the 4th overal pick in the 2006 NFL draft also lived in our dorm. We nodded to each other from time to time.

One of my Hanukkah gifts that year was Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 for PlayStation 2, which became a huge hit on my hall. For some reason I had more skill at T-Woods than anything I’d ever done. I was simply amazing and never lost. My hallmate, SanFranCrazy, got into the game more than anybody, and even created a player ranking system. Of course, I was number one.

One night SanFranCrazy organized a huge tournament to determine the true Tiger Woods champion. We had eight players playing in two separate heats, with the four winners playing in the championship round. SanFranCrazy held the tournament in his dorm room, and even designed stadium seating so that spectators could watch.

I was the favorite to win the tournament by a long shot, but the three players in my heat each played the best Tiger Woods of their lives. I was in a dogfight. Dirty-D was leading after the first five holes, which was amazing since he sucked. When he dropped off, Zim, Balla and I were in a tight race. As the 18th hole approached I was one stroke behind. I would need an eagle to tie them, thus sending it into overtime.

When it was time for my 40 foot putt for eagle, we intently stared at the TV screen waiting for the “caddy tip” to show. “What the fuck’s taking so long?” I asked.

“Oh shit, they’re gonna fuck you!” SanFranCrazy yelled.

He was right. I became outraged as the caddy tip read “unavailable,” which occurs approximately 5% of the time.

“This is fucking ridiculous, the game cheated me! There’s no way to make a 40 foot putt without a caddy tip.”

“Benjy, I think it’s time you take your seat next to me as a spectator,” Dirty-D said.

I hit the ball as best I could, but missed by six feet. I couldn’t believe that I had been dethroned in the biggest tournament of the year. Zim won and took my spot as the number one T-Woods player, even though that was my very first loss. I took my frustrations out on SanFranCrazy by saying, “If Tiger Woods loses one or two majors, does he lose his number one world ranking? Hell no.”

After the tournament we all went home for winter break. My health took a turn for the worse the following semester, and everyone else seemed to lose interst.

I'm still waiting for my rematch.

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