The Rower’s Prologue
By Jack Nicoletti:
There he sat, in seat 2C.
The Rower, basking in his own glory.
He sat leisurely back, enjoying first class
But to sit with the normals? He’ll take a pass.
He enjoyed reading philosophy and Machiavelli
His teachers have all hailed him “exemplary.” He had a body of stone, as if chiseled by God
But his hands were torn to shreds; his only flaw.
The blisters were merely a product of hard work
“Rowing is life” he said with a smirk.
He had the smugness and charisma of a game show host
Who knew he’d grow up to be the man with the most.
He had the mannerisms of a fifty year old with the body of a young guy
With one glaring shiner on his right eye.
When asked about the injury all he could say
Was that he walked into a cabinet last Saturday.
This of course was just to save face.
He listened to their stories as the plane cruised through the airspace.
Just as his classmate finished up their tale,
He knew it was time to come clean about the fail.
After all, we all have a story to tell.
So he put down his Machiavelli and figured “What the hell?”
The Rower’s Tale
“Alright, I got one” the Rower began
As he winked with the raise of his blistered right hand.
“It happened the winter of this senior year
When upperclassmen were no longer something to fear.
After four years on the high school’s crew team,
I was finally exposed to the whole party scene.
An invite to a night of mad celebration
Surely enhanced by forbidden libations.
‘The Crew Christmas Party’ the invite did read
Themed with oars painted red and dark green.
Don’t love parties, unless political.
‘Twould help me be less analytical
To attend a function of this fashion
Would surely help my chances of action.
See, for the past few years or months of late,
I’ve had my eye on a potential mate.
Her hair glows the purest color of gold
And her smile could stop me in my tracks, cold.
She goes by the name Ophelia Brists,
And she wears red hair ties around her wrists.
Her father’s the coach of our great crew team,
Making this fantasy purely a dream.
‘Twould never happen. Not this century.
Even with manners deemed ‘exemplary.’
With overprotection, the coach did vary,
But he’d banned her from dating until she was married.
No sex, no drugs, no rock n’ roll,
No ‘walking too close to telephone poles.’
Yet she still found a way to appease her father:
By dating the Captain! ...oh, why even bother?
He’s tall and he’s ripped and his biceps are sublime,
But enough about him, it’s my time to shine.
Back to that night with the invite on my doormat.
‘The Crew Christmas Part-’ wait, we went over that.
But did I tell you there was a theme?
Oh yes, this was true…
My eyes scanned the page as my smile started to gleam.
‘Don’t get fancy or dress as just you,
But get jiggy with it and wear a costume!’
The theme was ‘Holidays Around The World’
The invite read as the snow did whirl.
I tore open the door and ran to my room!
I was sure to have the most righteous costume.
‘Around the world’, you say? Well, I’ll be damned!
I’m the purest Italian in all of the land!
I loved The Godfather; after all, it’s a classic.
Three hours of drowsy dialogue? To me, it’s pornographic!
I opened my closet for anything posh,
And found a pinstripe suit, most flaquinosh.
It was a little tight, to my dismay,
But it fit like a glove (if I was OJ).
Next came the fedora, tried and true.
I looked like a real gangster out of Tony Soprano’s crew.
Now, the final step to make it concrete...
One stroke of a Sharpie and it was complete…
I posed in the mirror, and to my surprise,
A true mafioso stood before my very eyes.
I wore a pinstripe suit with a jet black fedora
And a drawn on mustache the ladies were sure to adore-a.
The theme: Around the world, and I was Italy.
In with the new me and out with the little league.
I pulled up to the party at eight-thirty-four
Boys drinking beers and girls being strong independent women.
If I only I knew what would await
Within the oak wood door behind the black front gate.
Heads turned fast enough to cause an earthquake
As I quickly realized I’d made a grave mistake.
This room was not filled with gangsters nor mariachi
But with Elves and Santas all seeming to watch me.
I couldn’t believe it; I misunderstood.
With my head in my hands, I was boned for good.
The theme was not ‘Holidays AROUND THE WORLD’
But it was ‘HOLIDAYS Around the World.’
Here I stood, like Scarface’s idiot roommate
As the sound of laughter began to reverberate.
Ophelia approached, her eyes screamed ‘pity’
But all I could do was stare at her gorgeous eyes.
She laughed for a second and quickly recovered
Dressed like a sexy reindeer, watching me suffer.
Word had spread; I was the laughing stock
I went from riches to rags, all by 9 o’clock.
I finally decided enough is enough! And I made a decision to ditch this stuff.
I excused myself to the first floor bathroom,
Realizing plainclothes was better than this costume.
The fedora was easy; just remove the thing
The suit not so much, but it was quite dashing.
Then came the mother of all mistakes
A Sharpie-drawn mustache; a complete disgrace
‘It can’t be too hard’ I thought to myself
Secretly wishing I’d dressed as an elf.
I turned on the faucet and soaped up my hands
As the Sharpie-drawn mustache refused my demands
I scrubbed and scrubbed, for minutes on end
I’d never be the clean-shaven rower again.
Slowly but surely the ends started to fade
But to my chagrin, the middle part stayed.
‘It is what it is,’ I reassured myself
‘Just a little mark’, putting the soap back on the shelf.
I took a cleansing breath and elevated my shoulders
Allowing fresh air and optimism to take over.
As I walked outside, I felt different indeed
Like I was in power; finally.
The crowd's reaction was different, which brought a slight scare.
Some shocked, some laughing with their arms in the air.
I brushed it off as a fun party joke
As I searched for Ophelia, who was having a smoke.
Out on the porch, I walked confidently
As the shock and laughter continued, coincidentally.
I wasn’t quite sure what was so absurd
But it wasn’t more important than what I’ll soon have heard.
Ophelia had just had a fight with her beaux,
And she looked at me differently with a new kind of glow.
I don’t know what it was that made her this way,
Perhaps the confidence that I had just gained.
I saw something I’d never seen in her eyes
A primal hunger, I fantasized.
She talked and I listened; we deeply conversed
As we both started to feel a burning thirst.
She said what all men dream to hear since the womb
‘Why don’t we take this up to my room?’
I nodded enthusiastically and away we embarked
As the partygoers continued to make their remarks.
Once more I brushed it off as we headed upstairs
To begin our own Mrs. Robinson’s affair
We got to her room and she slammed closed the door
As I clumsily bumped into her dresser drawer
She chuckled as we both sat down on her bed
My adrenaline soared like I was bungee jumping with thread.
We looked into each other's eyes and passionately kissed
As I imagined how much that Captain would be pissed.
We continued for minutes, y’know, just making out,
Until she said something raised serious doubt
Realization hit me like a brick to the knee
As soon as she moaned ‘Talk German to me’.
Right when I heard it, it all became clear.
The laughs, salutes and jaws dropped in fear...
It must have been hell for the average observer...
I had accidentally dressed as Germany’s worst Fürher.
Furthermore, my mind started to race
Ophelia was hot for this thing on my face!
It was completely absurd that in two hours time
She fell in love with my accidental hate crime!
It was a complete accident, I swear to God!
I want to go to Harvard, and chill in the quad!
Does this really seem like something I’d do,
When my three favorite letters are S, J and W?
‘This has to stop now!’ I told her with conviction.
A proclivity so upsetting, it had to be fiction.
She started to yell ‘Stop shaming me!’
As I asked ‘Intolerant? You’re the Nazi!’
I opened the door, and to my surprise
there stood the Captain, wiping tears from his eyes
‘Ophelia, I’m sorry!’ The Captain screamed
As he opened his eyes to see the horrid scene
The Coach, walking by added his two cents,
As he loved the Captain and his Mercedes Benz.
‘Ophelia, I think you should take him back.
He’s a very nice b- ...what the hell is that?!’
Again I stood, frozen in fear
Three separate parties wishing I’d disappear
My feet stuck to the ground, the hours getting late
A Captain, A Coach and his Daughter blasting me with hate.
So let this be a lesson to you, my friends.
Costume parties rarely work out in the end.
You should never trust a girl with hair ties on her wrists
And you can never be too careful who you choose not to kiss.
And that my friends, whether you laughed or cried,
Is the very true story of this here black eye.”