Nobody ever believes me when I tell them I once saw dogs playing on the high slide at Elmington Park. I realize that the story lacks both proof and credibility. Even the slide is gone now.
But I know what I saw. I was jogging through the park on my lunch hour, and there they were: two exuberant golden retrievers who repeatedly scaled the slide’s 12-foot ladder, then rode down on their rear ends like kids.
Back at my office after lunch, people snorted derisively at my report of this remarkable occurrence. No one there even allowed for the possibility that the sliding-dog story might, conceivably, theoretically be true.
Come to think of it, no one believed my story about the 250-pound cheerleader who left an entire basketball crowd agape when she performed the splits at halftime. Or the one about the man in Denver who discovered that he was being watched every morning while he shaved by a snake that would lift its head out of his toilet bowl.
Given this history and the general cynicism of our age, I wouldn’t expect you to believe me when I say I saw some whomperdejawed doings last weekend. But I feel certain they happened. I could have sworn I saw them on TV.
Would you believe me if I told you that I saw Arkansas torment Tennessee for 58 minutes of playing time, attempt to run out the clock, then suddenly seem to realize they were being rude guests and politely hand over an almost certain victory? Of course you wouldn’t. I’m still not quite sure I believe it.
But, with less than two minutes to play Saturday, and the Hogs leading 24-22, Arkansas QB Clint Stoerner stumbled as he pulled away from center. As he fell over, he placed the ball down on the turf as conveniently for swarming Vol defenders as if he had been leaving a quart of milk on their doorstep. Maybe it doesn’t quite rank with the miracle of the loaves and fishes, but it’s in the neighborhood.
I also saw something that will now require physicists to rethink their theories on the immutable laws of the universe: the Lady Vols lost a game. Believe that one? Didn’t think so. If Rabbi Schneerson had pulled that one off during his lifetime, his Lubavitcher followers wouldn’t still be trying to convince skeptics that he was the Messiah.
Now try this one. The Oilers kick a go-ahead field goal with six seconds to play, and the Steelers reprise the old Cal “lateral-rooski”only they lateral it all the way to their own end zone, where the Oilers pounce on the ball for an exclamation-point TD. You’re right. Even the X-Files would reject that plot as too outrageously implausible.
All right, here’s another. Syracuse scores to take a one-point lead over Virginia Tech and goes for two. But a Tech defender intercepts the pass on the conversion, returns it almost the length of the field, then fumbles; the ball rolls into the endzone, where Tech recovers for two points to regain the lead.
Before the game’s last play, Syracuse QB Donovan McNabb heads for the sidelines, vomits, then returns to throw a winning TD pass as time expires.
Or picture a Penn State receiver streaking down the sidelines after a catch, fumbling the ball (which miraculously stays in play), then catching it again on a bounce and continuing for a touchdown without breaking stride.
Or how about TSU rallying to score twice in the final four minutes to beat Murray State and clinch its first OVC titlein fact, the first title for any historically black university in a white-majority league? And what if I told you that, at game’s end, Murray’s mascot, a racehorse, bolted riderless around the track, prompting one person to swear he saw the ghost of legendary coach John Merritt gripping the reins and shouting “How ’bout them Tigers, baby?”
Would you believe that the Vols, having defeated (however precariously) a Top 10, previously unbeaten team, would fall to No. 2 in the writers’ poll, replaced by Kansas State? I didn’t believe it either.
Of course, two or three years ago, I wouldn’t have believed that K-State, still the losingest Division I football program in history, could even be CONTENDING for a national title.
And what if I told you the Oilers came up with a new name (not Tradition, not Presidents, not River Bandits or Smokies), and people actually seemed to like it. Boys, you can take that one right to the Ripley’s Museum in Gatlinburg.
It’s all true. Check your newspaper and ESPN. Hey, just a few weeks ago you wouldn’t have believed that the national leader who’d be forced out by the Monica Lewinsky scandal would be Newt Gingrich. Look what happened.
Maybe we’ll just have to get used to stuff like this. Maybe El Niño has altered our psychic landscape as well as our climate. Maybe these are signs of the End Times. Maybe we need to start paying more attention to pre-millenialist radio preachers, consulting our local woolly worms, and ingesting Prozac.
The implications are both scary and exhilarating.
Next thing you know, the NBA stars might vote to play this season for free and donate their salaries to disaster relief in Honduras.
George Steinbrenner might sell the Yankees to the city and become a Buddhist monk.
Georgia football players might learn to read.
Pavarotti might be invited to sing the National Anthem at Talladega. The surviving Beatles might regroup for one show at Starwood.
Stretching things farthest of all, Vanderbilt could score 31 points in the fourth quarter to defeat Tennessee and knock the Vols out of the Fiesta Bowl.
Don’t laugh. As you’ve seen, anything can happen.
And by the way, did I mention my old friend from high school track who used to catch shot puts with his bare hands?
How It Looks From The La-Z-Boy
Oilers 20, Jets 16
Tennessee 34, Kentucky 21
Alabama 21, Auburn 17
Florida St. 27, Florida 23
Arkansas 31, Mississippi State 21
Georgia 30, Ole Miss 16
Kansas State 31, Missouri 14
UCLA 34, Southern Cal 27
Michigan 21, Ohio State 20
2. Kansas State
5. Ohio State
7. Florida State
9. Notre Dame
10. Texas A&M