by gabe wollenburg
“Every time you eat ice cream before a game, you throw up. You think you’d stop eating ice cream before game time, but you don’t. You just keep stopping at the ice cream place on your way to the arena!” Coach Johansen’s neck veins strained as he struggled to maintain his composure.
He was met with silence.
“Well? What do you have to say for yourself?”
Guy Toledo inhaled. Then spoke: “We’re winning, aren’t we?”
“That’s not the fucking point,” said Johansen.
Guy shrugged and frowned deeply.
“It’s not,” said Johansen. “You know that.”
Guy shrugged again. “I dunno,” he said.
“Come on,” said Johansen. His steely eyes locked on guy. “What do you have to say?”
Guy mumbled into his shoulder: “It’s not ice cream anyway.”
“Not this again.”
“No. It’s important,” Guy said, looking up at his coach for the first time. “It’s custard. Not ice cream.”
“Custard is worse! I mean, custard has more fat, more sugar and is, in general, not a thing that a professional athlete puts in his body two hours before a match.”
“But we’re winning, aren’t we?”
The two men stared at each other briefly, both feeling the growing sense of disappointment fill the room.
“I just don’t know what to do with you. You’re talented. You’re smart. You could be the next Wayne Gretzky– don’t roll your eyes — you really could. You think I just go around telling my players they could be that good? I don’t. I hate most of my players. But you, Guy, you’re that good.”
Guy looked at his feet.
“But you’re never going to be the next fucking Wayne Gretzky, because Wayne Gretzky didn’t fucking throw up on the ice 15 fucking minutes into the first period.”
Guy continued to look at his feet.
“Every. Fucking. Game. ”
“I’m sorry.” Guy said, hoping the lecture was ending soon.
“Look, Guy. I can’t have it. The league’s coming down on me. The team’s coming down on me. The fucking Zamboni driver’s coming down on me.”
Guy nodded. “I understand.”
“I don’t’ think you do guy. I don’t think you do.”