Friday, April 22, 2011

Chapter 21: Malcolm Galiozzi

Beads of Sweat is a book about a high school cross country team.  About one in every six chapters is a biography of one of the runners.  This chapter, we meet Malcolm Galiozzi, a fringe varsity runner.

0615  So glad it’s a Tuesday morning.  No Dank Tank today.  He nearly killed us yesterday after “the situation.”  It’s like he knew we didn’t have the tank this morning so killed us yesterday afternoon.  And why the hell is he punishing us so hard two days before our first meet of the year.  It’s not like Westerling is a pushover. 

Man, if this was a tank morning I’d already be up and at school right now.  Smith would be blaring his music, he recently discovered AC/DC and it’s been a “Long Way to the Top” every damn morning, and getting in our faces.  The dude needs like two hours of sleep a day.  Check that, I bet he sleeps in his classes all day long.  At least Hartman lets a kid pick the music.  The maniacal one does every other damn thing for us.  Like today, he’s going to tell us how to “conduct ourselves” when we have dual meets.

Unlike some other guys, I don’t skip breakfast.  My mom hooks me up with something, usually hot.  Today, she put together some oatmeal.  I pour the oj and she makes the hot stuff, “it’ll stick to your ribs,” she tells me.  She thinks I’m too skinny and is always tell me to eat, eat, eat.  Hartman looks at me and tells me I need to work on my love handles.  Sonuvabitch, he’s always riding my ass. 

I need to look good for the ladies.  Non Dank Tank days I make sure to dress it up.  I need to get in the shower and then pimp myself out.  Hammond picks me up and can’t stand it when I make he wait.  He leans on that horn till the whole neighborhood is up.  After the shower, I dress it to the nines.  I got these sweet kicks for back to school and they don’t even have creases in them yet.  What takes me the longest is the hair.  I got to make sure it’s just right.  Smitty, if I see him before first period, will come up from behind me and jump on my back and mess up my hair.  I hate it when that asshole does that.  The hair has got to look like I don’t care.  That’s not easy.  But they got this new gel that makes your hair look natural and not wet and greasy.  The stuff is eye-talian gold, as Spider puts it.  Hey, these guys might laugh at me but who’s always the one trying to hook them up with girls.  I mean I got girls calling me all night.  When I don’t pick up, they text me.  It’s a miracle that I get even some of my homework done.  Damn. 

0710  Right on time, Hammond picks me up.  He lives like four streets over, so it’s really no inconvenience for him, only when I make him wait.  My mom tries to hurry me along, but that’s just because she doesn’t want the neighbors squawking to her about the horn.  I get in the car and every morning it’s the same thing.  The dude listens to sports radio in the car.  Can you believe it?  I try to punch the presets but he slaps my hand away.  Tells me he’ll put me in the backseat.  What a jokester.

0730  Even though Hamz gets us to school in plenty of time I got to hustle to first period so my old fart of a teacher doesn’t mark me tardy.  “Late is late,” he says, “there are no degrees of tardiness.”  My mom would kick my ass if she knew I check into first period late when Hamz gets me to school with like fifteen minutes to spare.  But there are just so many people to talk to in the morning, never mind all the texts I’m getting.  I have to check in on Sarah and Marlene and Jessica, and, of course, my boys: Smitty, Jenks, and Frank.  Believe it or not, I even hang with some non-xc guys like Williams, Haji, and Brimmer.  Paws and Sellberg came up on me in the hall the other day between classes, but I had to tell them to skedaddle.  I can’t have frosh hanging on my jock in the corridor, I mean really, that’s reserved for the guidettes. 

0950  English class is like the best class of the day, besides lunch and gym, of course.  I mean the teacher, Mr. Miele, is old but cool.  He lets us just talk most of the class.  He calls what we do Socratic Seminars or Fishbowls or Get One Give One, but I just see it as talking.  He never nags us to, but I even take some notes.  He lets us use them on tests, a history teacher would never do that, so I take some.  What the green light symbolizes, the character traits of Daisy, the problems with the first person narration because he’s not even the protagonist, the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleberg, I think that’s how you spell it.  I got this shit on lockdown. 

1136  Why do schools always come up with these crazy ass schedules.  Everything’s so precise.  1056 to 1101 passing time.  1101 to 1131 lunch A.  1131 to 1136 passing time.  1136 to 1206 lunch B.  Can’t they just round off to the nearest zero or five?  At lunch, we actually get to use our phones without having to do it secretly in our pockets or under our desks.  I keep mine on the table but really I don’t use it that much.  I’m hanging with my crowd.  I eat lunch with Smitty and Torres from the team then Brimmer and Haji.  Also at our table, as if there were any doubt, are the ladies.  Marlene, Jessica, Maggie from the girls’ team, and Tatas.  I know you know why we call Tatas Tatas.  Oh yeah.  She always wears the low cut V-necks.  She makes Frank blush.  We eat and shoot the shit and Marlene is always running her mouth with some gossip.  Smitty will turn to her every once in a while and say in slow motion, “Marlene shut the fuck up.  Nobody cares.”  Brimmer and Haji will do this weird ass foghorn tugboat noise and Torres will laugh and Tatas will too and she’ll jiggle and we’ll make fun of her and before I can finish my Gatorade the bell is ringing and it’s off to afternoon classes.

1337  Made it to the last class of the day.  This marathon is almost over.  I can hardly sit in my seat at this point and Miss Priss up there decides she wants to lecture us on enzymes.  Please let us go to the lab and play with the microscopes or centrifuges or let us dissect a frog, something, anything, but a lecture.  Sometimes I swear I have ADD. I just can’t pay attention.  In the morning I’m okay, but after lunch forget about it.  I never really thought about it before but in the morning, besides first period, my grades are pretty good.  But in the two classes I have after lunch, my grades suck.  The classes are boring as all hell too, so that doesn’t help.  I got to make sure I have gym or art or some bullshit class like that after lunch next year.  If it’s math or science or history, I’m screwed.

1430  Practice.  Today should be a doosey.  I wonder if Hartman is still pissed from yesterday.  I was the lookout but I swear I never saw him till he saw me.  I saw him look at me and I said, “Oh shit.  We’re fucked.”  The bastard got us good.  Cards.  What demonic mind thinks of that?  And what was up with him calling me Damon all practice long.  That better not be some anti-Italian guido shit or I’ll have to kick his ass. 

So this is how Hartman starts practice.  He says, “What’s happened happened.  It’s in the past but I’m not going to forget it.”  Of course, he’s not.  He’ll punish us all year long because we dared to have a little fun on a Monday afternoon.  Those frosh aren’t here today, though, so I don’t know what’s up with that. 

Ole Hartman can’t be bothered with the past because we got our first meet tomorrow.  Practice ran real late yesterday because he still made us do our run after the card playing.  I’m hoping today’s practice is quicker because I have to work at Parker’s Market from five to nine.  Before we do our shakeout, he lectures on us on how to conduct ourselves before the meet.  I’m hearing this stuff for the third time now, but I suppose he needs to tell the pfb’s what to do.  He tells us to warm-up and stretch as a team.  Stay together.  Have a light sweat on your body when you go to the starting line.  Do your static stretches first then your dynamic ones.  Get to the line early and do some strides.  Do them fast.  Scare the other team.  Don’t even talk to the other team.  Talk with your legs.  Show them that you work harder than them and are willing to dig deeper than them.  Don’t let somebody pass you without a fight.  Always hang on their shoulder for at least ten steps.  And if you’re hurting, never look back.  At least pretend you have things under control.  He gives a couple more pointers, but you get the picture.  Paws and Deo stare and listen; I’m thinking let’s go let’s go I gotta be at work at five. 

1717  I’m late to work but I’m blaming Hartman for it.  Punch clocks don’t lie.  I texted Brimmer and told him to punch me in, but he didn’t text me back.  I sneak in through the exit door and go upstairs to the timecards.  Brimmer didn’t punch me in.  Oh well.  I go down and check in with the guy running the front of the store.  He tells me to bag for lanes six, seven, and eight.  Bag?  “I would’ve let you ring, but your ass is twenty minutes late.”  Fifteen, I tell him then add, just don’t tell Lengel.  He nods.  He knows the boss can be a real prick. 

Bagging’s not so bad.  I mean it’s busy for the first hour, hour and a half or so, but by seven all the women are at home cooking dinner for their husbands and kids.  I can’t talk on the phone but at least I get some texting in.  Haven’t checked it since practice and my inbox is about to blow up.  Marlene, Trisha, Stephanie.  Brimmer texted me back, “dumbass im not workin 2night.”

2125  My mom warms up a plate for me and asks me about my day.  It’s a roundabout question for how much homework I have.  She talks to me while I eat.  She won’t let me bring my phone to the table, but I can deal with that since she’s the one making the dinner.  I go to put my plate in the sink to grab the sponge, but she tells me, “Nevermind, go do your homework and try to get to bed before eleven.  You got your first meet tomorrow.”  I’ll know she’ll be there. 

2310  My mom lightly knocks then walks into my room.  For chrissakes, good thing I’m not giving it a grab.  I’m on the bed with Gatsby half open.  She coyly walks over to me, takes the phone, shuts it off, kisses me on the forehead, and pulls the chain on the light. 

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