"Hey!" Mike said to Otto and me. "Why don't we get some people together and have supper at my place after the dance?"
"Great idea," I said. "But what'll I eat? I can see your mom trying to feed me all that good Japanese food: 'Sorry, Mrs. Konigi. Just a bowl of spinach, please—a little on the rare side. And a can of Nutrament for dessert.' Sure," I continued seriously. "Count us in."
"Sounds great, Konigi, I'll letcha know," said Otto.
Mike strutted back down the aisle, and I turned back to the Lolo National Forest of western Montana.
Pretty soon we crossed the Bitterroot River, which meant it was about time to get dressed. Coach was knotting his tie. We had a rule that said Evergreen athletes had to dress presentably on road trips. In our sophomore year that had meant a sport coat and a tie. We got it changed in our junior year to include turtlenecks and letter sweaters, but we still couldn't wear jeans. Otto had a clip-on tie and a gold shirt he bought for a dollar at Safeway. He was wearing the shirt as he scooted by me into the aisle to put on his good pants and his letter sweater.
In my bag I had a gray cotton turtleneck Mom bought me just for road trips after we got the rule changed, and an old-fashioned thug hat Carla gave me for my birthday. In my sleeveless letter sweater and my baggy cords I looked like an escapee from the Little Rascals show. Mom and I used to watch them on TV together. She'd get up early for work so she'd have plenty of time to put on her makeup. I'd sit with her and we'd watch the Little Rascals on TV in her room. She loved it because she used to go to their movies when she was a kid. She said they were called the Our Gang Comedies then. I was always late for school.
We pulled into the Custer parking lot, and a few Custer and Battleground guys pelted the old green and gold bus with snowballs in a friendly way. Not much hair poked out of the stocking caps around Missoula then. The door opened and the sharp, cold air rushed in. On a hill behind the school, snowmobiles swarmed. Either the ring of their engines or the shot of cold air aroused Kuch from the nap he began around Coeur d'Alene. Everybody filed out of the bus and into the gym. I sat and waited for Kuch while he knotted his tie and changed from his denims to a pair of plain navy-blue slacks. He added a sport jacket, and we joined the guys in the gym.
Schmoozler and I sat off in a corner of the bleachers with some Custer guys who were reading parts of a dirty book aloud to each other. We were all chortling and guffawing. We beat them in a real close match in the afternoon. We were down 14-20 going into Otto's match. If Otto hadn't pinned his man we'd have lost. Both Custer and Battleground had big, tough heavyweights, and Coach had made Otto captain for both of the matches. After beating Custer, the worst was over for us as a team. Battleground had some pretty tough guys, but overall their team wasn't as strong.
I had felt good all through my Custer match. Coach had stuffed my nose before I went out and it had only bled a little. The match lasted into the third round. It was only when the ref raised my hand as the winner that I began to get dizzy. I had to grab onto him to keep from falling down. When it was over, I lay behind the bench and didn't get up until Otto went out to wrestle. Still, the gym spun when I stood up. Coach decided to have Doug Bowden wrestle in my place the next night. That gave Doug some tournament-type experience and it gave me a rest.
I spent the night with the Carpenter family. Their kid Chris drew with Schmooz in a tremendous match in the afternoon. Rance Prokoff from Lewis and Clark shared the Carpenter basement with me. We shot a game of eight ball to see who got the davenport, and Rance won. I slept under the pool table. Actually it was pretty cozy. I managed to hook up a little desk lamp and read The Autobiography of Malcolm X till pretty late.