25 April 2007:
I had fallen into a rut. Cleveland celebrated the opening of spring by spitting snow everywhere. Any inspiration provided by the equinox froze beneath ice sheets. My blog sat barren and neglected—the month of April afforded little hope, as my internal calendar flipped for the 23rd annual time. I strolled into my mid-twenties rather sheepishly, as if I were searching out a seat on the RTA and wished to sit equidistant from all the other travelers.
But last weekend, the weather broke. Spring punched me in the face. The smell of fresh clippings wafted along the swelling sidewalks. The spectators had rushed the field. I spent my day job slinging mango smoothies and hummos/pita at young urban professionals and undergrads brave enough venture beyond the hermetically sealed bubble of their private university down the road.
I stumbled home from work late that Saturday night. The electricity of the first true spring evening vibrated inside my lungs. Transcendence tapped me on the shoulder. It was time. My roommates greeted me enthusiastically. They had big news.
“dB,” Jdubbs said, “me, you, and Thed are entering a bocce tournament in Little Italy.”
“We found a flyer down there,” Thed said, a grin-shaped crater on his face. “Our team is called cinque piu uno.”
“It means five plus one,” Jdubbs explained. He presented me with an Italian magazine, the cover of which featured five penguins walking to the right; a sixth stared stoically back at the reader.
“Okay,” I said hesitantly, “what does this have to do with bocce?”
“Each team has five members,” Thed said. “So ours would be you, me, Jdubbs, Chuck, and someone else. We haven’t figured out who yet.”
“Then who’s the plus one?” I asked.
"I dunno," Jdubbs said, "our merch girl." It seemed they had envisioned a hot, impassioned voice from the bench. We only needed a fifth, our cinque.
Thed and Jdubbs went on to describe the uniforms they had designed: track shorts and skimpy tees: purple, purchased from American Apparel; they planned to blazon the shirts with sponsors and the 5+1 penguins logo; also, aviator sunglasses; and, of course, (ironic) mustaches. I requested tube socks and matching purple Sambas. The ensemble was complete, at least in concept.
We slid headfirst into spring. This bocce tournament was to be truly transcendent. We planned practices on the grass medium separating the lanes of Euclid Heights Blvd. We considered hiring a documentary crew to chart our progress. We considered actually buying a bocce ball set.
And still, we needed a fifth, the final keystone to be set into place, the one person who could tie it all together. The foundation had been set. Bocce was going to solve all our problems, and a world of opportunity was opened to us. Thed, Jdubbs, and I—friends by chance, roommates by choice—left for a party that night feeling inspired beyond even our wildest expectations. The three of us were rolling headlong toward our destination, and would collide with it in due time. What mattered was that we were on the right trajectory to make contact.
Bocced Up archive