it’s not personal, sonny


mundane moments in a mundane life
"'s strictly business.”
I signed up for the second-chance tournament. It was nice of them to give us something to do, but it felt a little like going to daycare while we waited for our more fortunate road partners. I waited in line to ask the tournament director some last-minute questions. The lady in front of me, who possessed an enviable blonde ponytail, was taking quite a bit of time. Her hair moved enthusiastically and from this abundance of motion, I soon realized she was arguing with the tournament director. I popped out an earphone to eavesdrop.
The first words I caught were my name.
Bored curiosity honed itself to DEFCON alertness.
A few more words and it became apparent the blonde ponytail was asking that I be banned from the tournament. I walked forward and stood to her right. I looked up at the tournament director leaning over the table on his platform, then at her directly. She saw me, recognized me, and, to her credit, continued barreling forward full-force.
I had met her at a tournament some months before and she had been quite complimentary of my game. We had spoken casually. Neither of us had won the tournament. Like many I had met because tournaments had plunked us together in common interest and close proximity, she had been a pleasant acquaintance for the duration of the event. In my memory, she was a happy face sticker: bright and flat. I did not know very much about her, but she had been nice. Her face writhed with emotion as I watched her take shape.
“…player of known ability. Known. Ability…”
She fleshed out from a circle to cylinder.
“…you can’t let her play…”
Cylinder became sphere.
“…let me tell you what she’s won…”
Knives swiveled and pared. Gouges and chisels carved. Stamps and flourishes added detail, and by the time she had ceased talking, her whole countenance had been sanded to a fine roughness.
“Let me check with everyone else,” said the tournament director.
And then it was just the two of us staring at each other as we waited.
I found I had great admiration for her. Truly, she did not give a shit, and stood strong behind her convictions. I had great pity for her as well. She must have gone through a lot of failure and disappointment to be the person she was now. I decided not to contest her claims, even if they resulted in my disqualification.
The tournament director returned. “She gets to play. Her wins in another league have no bearing on her ranking in this one. Next!”
She pushed violently away from the platform where she had rested her arms. She stared me down. “You would’ve done the same,” she said. My admiration for her evaporated although the pity remained. She spun on her heel and marched away, her impeccable golden hairs flipping me off with every bounce.
“Next!” The tournament director motioned to me. “How can I help ya?
“She was talking about me,” I said wistfully, watching her go.
The tournament director laughed kindly. “Well, you must be a helluva player for her to come charging at us like that.”
“I’m really not.” The top of her ponytail sliced through the dense crowd like a shark fin. “But she makes me believe I am.”


the godfather, 1972

2 Replies to “it’s not personal, sonny”

  1. She just gave you a mental edge for the entire tourney. If you matched up with her, it would be a sure victory for you in that match. She lost before the lag.

    …and I’m gonna have nightmares thanks to that pic.

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