MLS All-Star Game run-ins with Ruiz, Adu recall prom night
Posted: Saturday August 14, 2004 2:52AM; Updated: Saturday August 14, 2004 2:54AM
Kansas City Wizards defender Jimmy Conrad contributes regularly to SI.com.
There are many ways I can express my opinion, gratitude, and savoir faire about the recent All-Star gala in our nation's capital:
1. A dot-to-dot re-enactment, e.g. "and then in the morning I had some orange juice and said 'Hi' to Thomas Dooley". Nah.
2. A brief overview pandering to the random thoughts going through my head (Ah, Frank Yallop, it's good to see you, by the way thanks for trading me). Hmm, maybe, but I feel this style is affectionately known as a "normal" Conrad's Corner and I don't want to mess with any copyright infringement.
3. A flashback sequence that parallels the experience I encountered once arriving into the District of Columbia. Yes! This is it. This is what I want to do.
I want to share a moment from my past that induces the same emotion that I felt leading up to (heightened expectation and excited anxiety), at (an acute awareness of the details) and following (resolution and contentment) the All-Star Game. For me, only one incident in my laconic history can match this melting pot of emotion ...
A loud horn is beeping from outside the premises and my family wishes me "Good luck." My bus of friends -- Richard, Chris, Landon and the one they call Goose -- has arrived, and I maintain a cool façade as I creep inside of the vehicle. The backseat looks promising for now, and later, so I stake my claim to the territory. (All-Star Rosters/Prom List)
As I peer from the back to the front I try to observe the mannerisms of the rest of the crew, for it is my first time to a soiree of this magnitude, and according to the guy who I bought my corsage from, this is Goose's NINTH. So to break my own personal anxiety, I asked the volume of Boyz II Men be turned down and engaged in conversation.
"So Goose, this being your NINTH time, does the nostalgia of being invited to this special event wear off at any point?"
"Nope. It's just another opportunity for me to show off my calves," the Goose replied.
"Yeah, I guess the ladies do dig the calves. And why the hair change? Don't like Pearl Jam anymore or what?"
"I inspired grunge. A World Cup qualifier in Seattle in '92," the Goose stated.
Our automobile came to a halt and the doors opened. One by one my fellow canary yellow counterparts -- Kevin, Cory, Pat, Kerry, Brian, Jason, Ronnie, Jovan, and Andreas -- moseyed into the open spots.
There was only one open seat left and one person yet to enter. Of course, the open seat was next to me, and the one person yet to enter was the individual I got into a fight with the week before. It was Carlos.
Carlos and I had a few run-ins from long ago but nothing matched the intensity of this recent flare-up. Here's a brief rundown of what occurred:
I had the ball.
Carlos thought it was his.
I got it first.
Carlos wanted it back.
I remained steadfast.
Carlos tried to slap and kick the ball out of my hands.
I flailed my arms and caught Carlos with my forearm.
Carlos grabbed his jaw.
After I hit him in the shoulder.
Carlos' bodyguard, Mr. Total 90 Headgear*, came to break it up.
I don't know where the ball went.
Carlos had some choice expletives pointed in my direction.
Carlos got in trouble.
Carlos' dad, Sigi, made some calls.
I got in trouble.
Though the tension in the back of the bus was substantial sitting aside Carlos, my anticipation was too concerned with the upcoming extravaganza to take notice of past teenage bravado. But more importantly, our dates were waiting.
We vacated the vehicle, and I fell behind the group to enjoy a moment of personal satisfaction. A smile broke across my face as I thought, "It's about time I got invited to one of these."
My nerves were manhandling my sensibilities as I entered the auditorium, music was blaring from the speakers above, fireworks were going off in the background and the crowd was restless. Our dates met us on the dance floor, and the prom commenced.
For the first 15 minutes I thought, "Wow. So this is what I've been missing."
But then some kid named Amado started hogging the floor. He was dancing from left to right and back again, showing up my squad and stealing the spotlight. "OHH! You just got served," he kept saying to Pat.
After awhile, slow songs dominated the affair, and the extreme heat in the building settled the atmosphere to an anticlimactic pace. Everybody looked disinterested in the now and seemed to be anticipating the after party. I think Andreas was already there, because I didn't see any intention of him dancing at any point.
So before I became completely convinced that the event was a less than I had dreamed, a throng of people had congregated in the corner. I made my way through the mass to catch a glimpse of what all the fuss was about. It was a youngster nearly half our age doing whirly tricks with his feet and wowing the audience with his poise and grace.
There was a break in the action and I asked, "Excuse me, but how old are you?"
"Well, how old do you want me to be?" the young one countered.
"I doubt you're old enough to be a part of this exclusive occasion," I declared.
"The principal invited me. He needed me to spice up the festivity. Look at me. Excitement follows me wherever I go. You want to watch me, you need to watch me," he affirmed as his entourage nodded in agreement. "So does it really matter what my age is?"
"I, um, well if the principal thought that much of you, I got no problem with it," I offered reluctantly.
"I own the principal," he roared and then handed me his card.
FREDDY'S THE NAME,
STEPOVERS ARE MY GAME.
The whistles blew signaling the end of the celebration, and I did the traditional handshake with all the nearest participants. I took one last look around to commit the sights and sounds of the bash to memory and strolled outside to where our bus was waiting.
The here and now
As I look back fondly on both the All-Star Game and prom night, I realize that the lead-up to the big day is the best part; the big day itself pales in comparison to my unrealistic expectations but makes up for it in the little details, and the following days are spent doing calf exercises so I can be a part of the festivities again next year.
Editor's note: * Galaxy defender Ryan Suarez.