Column #242 Johnny Kuczynski WSOD Profile — Part One
April 5, 2006
Johnny Kuczynski WSOD Profile — Part One
The little story I am about to tell you is true. It happened exactly as I am about to describe it. Honest. I swear it.
I’ve just returned to my office from a couple of weeks of business in Thailand. There are piles of papers all over my desk. I’ve weeded my way through exactly 420 e-mail messages, most of them hawking Viagra, and a bunch of voice mails.
One of the voice messages was from Johnny Kuczynski. Since he doesn’t have e-mail, we exchanged voice mail messages after he won the Las Vegas World Series of Darts (WSOD) qualifier and I agreed to send to him by regular mail the questionnaire that I have asked the other qualifying darters to answer so I could write their personal profiles.
I attached a short letter with it asking Johnny to mail it back to me before I left for my travels.
Believe it or not, writing the profiles of the players is not as easy as it may seem. Some of the darters can be quite difficult. For instance, Dave Marienthal wanted help coming up with a nickname other than New Wave, so he wouldn’t come off sounding “like some sort of weenie from Jersey.” Roger Carter “absolutely positively” wanted me to mention “at least four times” how he was “gonna kick all them Brits arses.”
Johnny’s questionnaire didn’t arrive and basically that was what Johnny’s message was about. He said he’d been really busy with work around the house – repairs to his roof and some landscaping – and he just hadn’t been able to get to the questions. “Besides,” he said, “there are just too frickin’ many of them!”
So I rang him back and offered to go to his house and just ask him the questions. He said that this would be fine but wondered how my wife would feel about me flying to Pennsylvania immediately after returning from a long trip. I sort of laughed and said, “Hell Johnny, I just read Wayne Mardle’s new book and to tell you the truth – my wife ought to drive me!”
Johnny had read it too and also got a laugh.
I was lucky enough to catch a flight pretty much straight away. I rented a car and drove to Johnny’s place. I called ahead from my cell phone and he met me in the driveway. There were workmen all over the roof and as we walked through the garage and into a small room just inside, I noticed that the roof was indeed leaking, quite a bit actually.
Johnny was wearing black shorts and a darts shirt and he had my questionnaire in his hands. The thing was, there were many more pages than I’d remembered sending, some fifty of them all bunched up like a ream of copy machine paper that had been dropped and gathered together real fast.
I made some sort of excuse, saying I was sorry there were so many questions but that getting his answers should only take ten or fifteen minutes. Johnny was amenable, which was nice I thought, having traveled so damn far. He handed me the papers and, wouldn’t you know it, I was correct in the first place. There were only a couple of pages. Somehow Johnny had collected up a bunch of miscellaneous papers with what I’d sent and thought the task I’d given him was just too overwhelming.
I noticed that mixed in with the stuff was a magazine article about Tippy Hedrin’s exotic animal sanctuary, Shambala. I asked Johnny about it, mentioning that one of my clients owned an exotic cat sanctuary for lions and tigers in Tennessee. Johnny didn’t have a clue where the article came from.
Johnny seemed to be favoring one side of his body and sort of massaging his back with his hand. He actually seemed to be standing a little bit crooked. He said he’d messed his back up a little before he decided to have professional roofers come in. I said something stupid like “you better take care of that before you get to the Mohegan.”
So we go to the kitchen, which was spotless – wood floors and shining counter tops – and Johnny starts to mix up a couple of drinks. He was a good host. He didn’t just pop a couple of beers like Carter and Marienthal would probably have done. I guess he might have been feeling guilty about not getting the questionnaire back to me.
As he was fixing the drinks I wandered into the living room just off the kitchen area and stopped dead in my tracks. I swear that Johnny’s living room looks just like mine. There’s a large white couch and matching chair, brass lamps and end tables, a roll top desk and a big beige throw rug on top of the wood floor. There is even a wicker basket full of dog toys.
So I go back into the kitchen and say, “Johnny, you won’t believe how similar your taste in decor is to my wife’s – your living room with the white and the brass and everything looks just like ours.” Johnny replied real nonchalant-like, as is his way, by reminding me that we’d done another interview a few years back – and that I shouldn’t be surprised by what I saw because he’d described it all then.
We walked back into the living room with the drinks. Johnny reclined sort of bent-like on the couch and I sat on the rug next to an end table with my questions. “There really are only a couple dozen of them Johnny,” I said. “Most of them are short one word answer jobs. This should only take a few minutes.”
“Fine,” he said. “But please try to make it fast. I’m really hurting – but DON’T put that in anything you write!”
I reassured him that there was nothing to worry about, that I’d have him proof the copy before it was published.
“So Johnny,” I said, “let’s start with your birth date – no, tell me first where you were born?”
There was a long pause, too long of a pause. And I’m thinking to myself – HOLY SHIT, he fell asleep!
I looked up from my papers at Johnny and noticed that the wall behind the couch was made of teak. Odd. I hadn’t noticed that before…
And then it became clear. I wasn’t at Johnny’s after all. There was no Johnny.
I’m in bed in my hotel room in Bangkok.
The digital clock above the television says its 4:00 a.m.
Ten thousand miles away from home I am and still I can’t get the frickin’ World Series of Darts out of my head. I blame it all on Tommy Cox.
So, if you read this and know Johnny Kuczynski, tell him to finish his questionnaire.
Otherwise I’ll tell the world about his back.
From the Field,
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