Retakes Without The Wave

“Just a little wave,” my mom said.

“You want me to get a perm?” I asked.

“Just a wave,” she said. “A body wave.”

I had no choice. The appointment was made at the Red Barn Beauty Salon. Raoul – I’m not making this up – gave me just a wave. A body wave.

Raoul and my mother completely ruined the Anthony Michael Hall thing I had cultivated.

Shaun Groves middle school

But things got worse.

(Middle school is nothing but a collection of “things got worse” moments. I say we break with school from ages 12 to 14 and resume our educations again at 15, once the plague on our faces has cleared up a bit and everyone has body hair. Just a suggestion. Who’s with me?)

In the seventh grade I had to choose between playing kickball and working out to Jane Fonda videos in P.E. or playing a sport. Though I’d never watched the game and had no muscles anywhere, I chose football. Because I was completely talentless, the coach made me a wide receiver, knowing that we wouldn’t pass the ball all season.

I didn’t care. I wasn’t on the team to play the game. I was on the team to be on the team. To be one wrung higher on the adolescent food chain – even if I was hanging from that wrung with my underwear pulled up to my armpits by a linebacker. Wedgies are a small price to pay for acceptance.

Picture day kinda made it feel official. I would have photographic proof that I, yes I, was on the football team.

The night before pictures would be snapped…

“You have great hair,” Raoul lisped. “It took the chemicals so well!”

Just a wave was an afro when Raoul was done with me. The size of my head doubled. An ulcer in my stomach formed.

Raoul warned it would ruin the wavefro, so I washed my hair a dozen times that night. I slept with a hat on. The next morning I doused my head in my big sister’s Texas-strong Aquanet “extra hold”, squished, repeated.

I wore my helmet until the last possible moment. And then…

Shaun Groves playing football

This is why fantasy football exists. For all the guys who did buttocks squeezes to a Jane Fonda video on the cold asbestos tiles of a gymnasium. For all the guys who lined up at wide receiver and were never thrown the ball. For all the people who won the science fair and competed in academic decathlons and never got a pep rally. For all who are gainfully employed today but didn’t succeed when it really mattered. For all the people who’ve lived in a pathetic unathletic reality for far too long…there is fantasy.*

Foster The PeopleI’m living vicariously through Arian Foster – the star running back sans wavefro who is leading my fantasy team Foster The People. FTP dominated the competition this week – made up mostly of children 14 and under. I spiked my laptop, yelled “In your face!” at my nine year-old and did a salsa dance in the endzone of my office – also known as that space between my desk and piano.

For me, it was like picture retakes. This time without Raoul.

Here’s hoping Arian stays healthy, Romo doesn’t choke and Brandon Marshall creams the Packers’ secondary. Who are you rooting for this week?

*I hate that I even have to explain this, but this entire paragraph is sarcastic. As well as other sentences in this post. Please don’t be angry.