Tuesday, October 04, 2005

From Hero to Zero

The following is a weekend in the life of SonDog. October 1-3, 2005 will go down in history as three days that this douchebag will never forget...

Saturday morning: I awoke to the excitement that a 5-year-old experiences on Christmas Day. On October 1, 2005, I was going to experience the true feeling of being a man. Seriously, I was going to be one of those guys on the cover of romance novels (or so I'm told by "those who I know very well"). Women would want me; Men would want to be me. My neighbor and I were going to take a chainsaw, cut down some trees deep in the White River National Forest of Colorado, bring said wood home, then chop the hell out of it with an axe. Really, is there any other experience that could come close to defining ones-self as a member of the male sex?

Other men (those who myself and the Gubernator like to call "girlie men") choose to pay for their wood. Not myself and Bill. Bill and I were going to get our own wood. Damnit, if our forefathers could do it, so could we. Really, could you imagine Wyatt Earp saying, "Listen here my good man, I was wondering if I could purchase a cord of wood from you for somewhere around $75. Also, if you could deliver that load straight to my doorstep, that would be fantastic. In fact, if I could not lift a finger during this entire operation, I would be very pleased."

So, at approximately 8:00 AM on Saturday morning, Bill and I (along with our two manly dogs) took off in my truck, hell-bent on finding some trees to destroy (Technically, for good fire wood, you need to find trees that have already been dead for some time. I like to call this, a "technicality"). Somewhere around 9:30 AM we found a fantastic spot in the middle of nowhere that looked perfect for firewood. There were plenty of aspens and pine trees laying about, just begging to be ripped into (don't end a sentence with a preposition; don't end a sentence with a preposition). In fact, both of us swear that we heard one tree shout, "Please, cut me down, you hunka-burning men!" No doubt, this was our spot.

Bill, who for his anniversary had just received an incredible gift of a Skihl chainsaw (really, there was a movement in my pants just mentioning that), opened his mint-condition case, yanked out his beautiful piece of testosterone, ripped the accelerator cord, and fired up his incredible man-toy that is a V-10 powered, loud-as-hell chainsaw. We proceeded to find the tree with the largest girth imaginable, as no other tree would suffice. Five, six-foot cuts later, we had some firewood for the winter. We both thanked God for allowing us to provide for our family before the bitter-cold winter, then proceeded to find our next victim.

This pattern went on for a good two-hours. To hell with the fact that we may not be able to fit all of these ginormous logs into my truck. Nature needed us to clear some under-brush, and by God, we were going to do it. I mean, the US Forest Service should be thanking us with a written document. I'm not even close to kidding. In fact, I just completed writing a letter filled with compound sentences and hyperbole, addressed to our local Director of Colorado Department of Forestry, demanding some gratitude.

At any rate, somewhere around 2:00 PM, Bill and I returned to our condo complex with our truck-load of wood. Since neither of us had ever "cut" our own wood, or "chopped" our own wood, we had no idea what we were in for next. Earlier that morning, I purchased an indestructable axe (or so the label at Home Depot said), and an item known as a "wood grenade." (Note: A simple "wedge" was available, but when the word "grenade" is incorporated into a retail item, what would you choose? Seriously, "wedge," or "grenade"? That's what I thought. There's no contest, right? Men choose "grenades," "girlie-men" choose "wedges." It's just science.) It was about time we put these two toys to the test.

For the next three hours, Bill and I swung away with all the power of Zeus. Between the two of us, we plowed through a good four trees, shattering each log with the awesome lethality of the muscles in our backs, arms, chests and hands. The logs didn't stand a chance. Like Paul Bunyan, we ripped through enough wood to build a small duplex. With each swing, Bill and I received a burst of air into our respective egos. By God, there were no other men in the world doing what we were doing this day. If an author was there to write a book, he or she would be forced to put down his or her pen and take some pictures. This was a site to be seen, and never forgotten. For a good nine hours, Bill and I became legends in our own minds, and we still had all of our appendages.

Bill and I can't believe we already have our own figureene...

Originally, this was a one-day project. However, too much fun was had by all, and we each had another day "off" from the work world to re-live this day. Thus, we decided that Sunday morning, we were going out for more. You could almost hear the forest shivering with fear.

Sunday, October 2: 7:30 AM. It was time. There were trees to be cut down, damnit. Sleep is for weaklings. The sun is up, so I should be as well.

I thought Bill and I chopped up some huge trees on Saturday. But, that was just simple naiveté. Once we arrived at our "secret" wood-chopping spot on Sunday morning, it was clear that there were some bigger proverbial fish to proverbially catch. The mission for the day: Find something... no, anything... that was bigger than what we threw the chainsaw and our muscles at on Saturday.

Immediately, we found our victim.

Four feet wide and 300-feet tall, there sat the digger-pine of our dreams. I swear, we both thought we had taken a wrong turn past Wolcott and wound up in Northern California, where the Redwoods are the size of large-skyscrapers (as opposed to small-skyscrapers). This pine was a warrior. It was the pine that dared men to take a slice. For, if you tried, you would surely fail. Yes, this was the pine for Bill, myself, our manly dogs, and the chainsaw.

Three hours, two pines, and three aspens later, Bill and I had enough wood to last us the winter. Since football was on this day, we were planning on taking the wood home, dropping it in the garage, and waiting a week to chop away. However, once we returned and unloaded the wood, our boiling-over testosterone demanded we utilize the wood grenade and axe at least once. The first victim would be a two-foot section of the giant pine we slayed with our own manly hands. Several blasts into the wood grenade with the back end of the axe later, we had more firewood. Naturally, we decided that simply one section would not suffice on this day.

Two hours later, Bill and I had chopped through enough wood to construct the Panama Canal. By this point, our backs and hands felt like they were about to fall off. The word "backiotomy" was thrown about more than once. Between the two of us, we had taken roughly 732 swings with the axe. Of course, neither of us had ever felt better in our lives. The pain we were in was a sensation only felt by battle-scarred warriors. For God's sake, we were men, and as long as we were around, the world would be a safer place.

Monday, October 3: Huge Vail Valley Recreation District softball game today. As co-coach-manager of the team, it is my responsibility to make sure our team plays with the fire necessary to win. I mean, this is Vail Valley softball. Texas high-school football has nothing on this league. This day, we were set to play the best team in our elite-league (no, really, we play in the elite-league. Don't ask me why). We had to bring our A-game in order to win.

Somewhere around the second inning, something just felt wrong at shortstop. I just took a wicked hop off of my left wrist from a one-hop seed up the middle. I mean, this ball hit flush. But, I'll just shake it off and get the next one. Two batters later, I had just committed my first error, slightly pulling the 2B off the bag on a play in the hole. Something just didn't feel right, but I thought I could fight through it.

Um, two errors later (in the same inning), it was in my head. "For the love of all that is holy, don't hit the ball to me," was the line that I repeated internally more than "I've fallen and I can't get up!" I couldn't believe this. All season, I had played a solid shortstop. In softball, there isn't a more demanding position on the field. With every play, there is something that you should be doing. I mean, every ounce of my pride was at stake here. I HAD to get the next one. It was a given, this was just an anomaly. I've seen Jennie Finch get down for grounders for crying out loud. What's with this matador BS?

Jennie Finch, teaching me how to get down, not fall out of the way, of a softball...

By the fifth inning, I had committed two more errors. By this point, my entire genetalia had shriveled up inside my body like a scared turtle. I tried everything I could to keep thinking about Jennie Finch, but all of the manliness that I developed through the weekend had disappeared through a worm hole quicker than Jennie if I were to run into her in a bar. How could this be happening to me. What the hell is my problem? How can I go from all-Vail shortstop in one week, to all-bullethole shortstop the next? It's the soreness in my back... my hands... my arms... anything. I know that's it. I mean, I just chopped wood for two days for Christ's sake!!! Men don't make this many errors!

Jennie, laughing at one of my many errors...

Realizing you are contributing (check that... CAUSING!) the ghastly defeat of your team is a very humbling experience. After the game, I would receive a hug, I'd be told that I'm still loved, I'd be told that they've seen me play enough and this was just an incredibly "off" game, and I'd drink a couple of beers. However, the demoralizing feeling that comes from athletic inability/unaccomplishment is one that sticks with you like a bad rash.

(Class Exercise: Pretend your ego is your foot. Now, pretend you are looking at the weather-stripping on the door of your truck, and the weather-stripping on the chassis of your truck. Next, pretend you are sticking your foot in the middle of the two, and slamming the door on your foot as hard (and as many times) as possible. Do you see how your foot deflates? See how flat it is? Yeah, that's my ego about right now.)

While drinking whiskey that night, I would begin to wonder what caused this monumental letdown. Then suddenly, it hit me. I hadn't shaved my head in three entire days!! That's it! As a baseball fan/player (when I was much, much younger), I fully appreciate the superstitions that are part of the game. I can't remember completely, but I'm pretty sure that I had shaved my head the night before every game this year (as point of fact, I shave my head every morning, but that's beyond the point of fact).

To eliminate this feeling of self-pity from my brain, I had to shave my head THIS NIGHT! In fact, not only would I shave my head, but I would shave my entire face... WITH A BLADE! This is something I have not done since I was 16. Electric razors were the way of my life. But, not on this night. I was going to be a man again, and goddamnit, I was going to blade away everything from my chest up (with the exception of my goatee and eyebrows).

23 razor cuts and four patches of razor burn later, my ego had a little bit of life refilled. To assist, I walked outside, and stared at the enormous pile of fire-fuel that Bill and I created on Saturday and Sunday. Suddenly, I realize that there is much more to life than chopping wood and playing recreational league softball. Yes, it was time to re-evaluate things, and I would start by reading a book filled with Japanese proverbs and Ideals of the Samurai. This should help.

Proverb No. 1: He who does not fetch own fuel has no respect from other men.

Destiny, it seems, is not without a sense of humor.

It's decided. Bill and I are going out next weekend for more wood. Do we need it? No. At this point we won't run out of wood for 3 years. However, there's trees to cut, damnit, and we're going to find them. Plus, my ego needs a refill.


Hannah said...

Just stumbled on your blog. I like this post a lot.

(I would think of some witty comment but y'know, it's 9am for gods' sake)

disruntledbldgAbandit said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
OZ said...

The comedy of picturing a stubble headed, chainsaw wielding softball player with an axe strapped to his back like Ash's shotgun, is just funny. It's funny how a tried and hallowed traditional manly event like cutting firewood, can be overshadowed by a poor showing in a sport that's dimensions and rules barely keep it out of the "activity" column. I think the male competitive spirit shows through in this article. One day, you're providing heat and warmth to all those that depend on you for sustenance and life, which should far outweigh the lack of performance on a field they use for tee-ball on Saturday mornings. Unfortunately, men are competitive animals (insert picture of mangled tennis rackets after poor performance on the court).

Anonymous said...

I'm not a sports fan so forgive me for not reading the other articles. -Hero to Zero - amusing! Allow me to confess: though I have sped read through the post several times....I remain fixed on day one: rereading word for word. Why? Well, as I know SonDog, I really couldn't allow his 'fall from grace' to disrupt my fantasy of him as the Warrior of day 1. Yes, SonDog the Warrior: Bulging muscles, sweat glistening off his swinewy body fighting his way through the forbidden forest. Battle axe in one hand, sword in another, cutting his way through the wall of enemies to free his Lady Love from the cluthes of evil.....
OK! I'm not about to commit a cardinal sin, but I am a gal who is not ashamed of a fantasy or two involving the men around me.....