Column #177 I’m Gonna be World Champion!
February 1, 2005
I’m Gonna be World Champion!
It was three decades ago — 1974. It was the year the course of my darts career was set. I was twenty-one years old.
It was the same year that Richard Nixon was impeached, resigned the presidency, and was pardoned by Gerald Ford. Patricia Hearst was kidnapped. Peter Benchley published Jaws. A first class stamp cost a dime.
Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record. Dizzy Dean, Charles Lindberg, and Cass Elliot died. Muhammad Ali and George Foreman held their Rumble in the Jungle. The Beatles were legally disbanded.
Ronald Regan was the governor of California, Helmut Schmidt was Chancellor of Germany and Harold Wilson replaced the resigning Ed Heath as British Prime Minister.
General Motors offered the first airbags, Intel introduced the 8080 microprocessor and the firefly was decreed the official insect in Pennsylvania.
In the world of darts in 1974, Peter Chapman defeated Paul Gosling to win the News of the World. The late Philadelphian, Al Lippman, chalked up his second consecutive US Open championship. Two more Philadelphians, Joe Baltadonis and Helen Sheerbaum, topped the field at the North American Open.
My contemporaries, others in their twenties at the time, Bob Anderson, Alan Evans, Bobby George, Cliff Lazerenko, Stefan Lord, John Lowe, Rab Smith, Nicky Virachul, Jocky Wilson, Dennis Priestley, and Paul Lim were all pounding the sisal somewhere. At just seventeen years of age, so was Eric Bristow.
Keith Deller and Phil Taylor were fourteen. Peter Manley and Alan Warriner were twelve. John Part was eight. Ray Barneveld was seven. Mark Dudbridge and Colin Lloyd didn’t exist.
And me? As I was recently reminded while rummaging through boxes in my garage, instead of working out on the board that hung for four years on the back of my dorm room door, I was churning out gibberish for my college newspaper. I guess, pretty much, I was doing exactly the same thing I do today. And I damn well have the crappy-ass darts to prove it.
Long forgotten and yellowed from three decades packed away, the ditty that follows ran in the Western Michigan University Herald in February, 1974. As I pulled it from its place in storage and began to read I was both shocked and amused. I remember the moment perfectly.
“Dope will get you through times of no chicks better than chicks will get you through times of no dope.”
The scene is a small dormitory party. You know the kind. The lights are out and the flicker of scented candles illuminates the room. Pink Floyd’s Meddle album spins the turntable while swirls of smoke and muffled conversation fill the air. From somewhere, an intriguing conversation develops…
“Hey. Hey! Listen, man. I’ve got a question. This dude in psychology gave me a problem today and I can’t figure it out. Ya get this choice, see. If you were stranded on a South Sea Island what would you rather do: live out your life with twenty beautiful girls or an endless supply of pot?”
“Wow, that’s a heavy question, man. I don’t know; that’s pretty tough to answer. I just don’t know.”
“How about if I add a stereo system to the weed and some Pink Floyd albums.”
“Oh, man. I just don’t know. Both of them! Neither! Man, I don’t know. What kind of pot did you say?”
Tops, dude, and papers too. And the system and the tunes.”
“Shit, man. That’s the most difficult question I’ve ever been asked! I guess I’ll have to go with the pot. Yes, I’ll definitely take the pot. No, wait. After the past couple of months around here, I guess I better consider the chicks. No. I’ll take the pot. Yeah, man. I WANT THE POT! Where’s that joint?”
From the other side of the room…
“Hey man, you’re an asshole!”
“Bullshit! You’re an asshole!”
“Bite me, man. Take the chicks. You could give me all the pot in the world and I’d still take the chicks. I’d take Jennifer O’Neil and Raquel Welch…”
The person who posed the question interjects…
“Hold it. Hold it! Remember, the question did say anything about whether the chicks would put out. They might hate your ugly ass.”
“Exactly. That’s why I’d take the pot. It’s like that Skinner dude says about reinforcers and shit. If you consider the long-term possibilities along with the short-term possibilities, the pot’s got to be the only choice. The short-term pleasure of the chicks may sound good now but what are you going to do with them in fifty years? Just try tellin’ me you plan to be messin’ with your mother.”
“Man, you’re buzzed. You’re out of your frickin’ gourd! Man has to have chicks to survive. The Bible proves that. Plus, chicks are cool, dude. When they get all wrinkly and shit you can just lay around on the beach with an umbrella drink. They can serve the drinks, clean your bamboo hut, and catch the fish.
“Holly bat-shit, man. You’re wasted. You’re messed up bad. Listen to me. Put down that doobie and LISTEN. You don’t need chicks if you’ve got pot. Here’s proof. If you’ve got pot you can toke a number and go find a mermaid. And, if you can’t find a mermaid it don’t matter… ’cause when you’re buzzed everything’s always cool.”
After a thoughtful pause…
“Yeah! You know, dude, maybe you’re right. I guess I’d take the pot too. Definitely. Screw the papers and the albums too. For sure. You are absolutely frickin’ correct! I’d take the pot before the chicks. Any day!”
“Far less hassle, right?”
“Damn straight, man. Let’s smoke!”
And the party went on. The lights remained low and the room still moved with the flicker of the candles. Smoke and half-sober conversation still filled the room.
I clasped my beer, cracked the door, slipped out into the hall and passed out on the floor…
Suffice it to say the handful of nutty-as-hell words above caused a bit of a stir. The faculty advisor to my newspaper was not pleased. The dean of students was not pleased. If letters to the editor and the inability to get a date are any indication, the entire female population of Kalamazoo, Michigan was not pleased.
My parents nearly made me drop out of school.
What a dummy I was.
While the likes of the names mentioned above were honing their now championship-skills, I was so wasted that I couldn’t choose correctly between a bevy of nubile women and the contents of plastic bag. I couldah been a contendah!
Well, I’ve learned my lesson. Oh, maybe not…
Given a similar choice today (“Hey. Hey! Listen, man. I’ve got a question. This dude gave me a problem today and I can’t figure it out. Ya get this choice, see. If you were stranded on a South Sea Island what would you rather do: live out your life with twenty beautiful women or throw darts twenty-four hours a day?”), I would make the right decision!
And in another thirty years I’ll be World Champion.
From the Field,
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