Red and I drove
in silence to Santa Monica. We stopped for a Frosty Freeze, a vanilla cone
dipped in chocolate, and continued on our way. The Frosty Freeze didn't cheer
me up. On the contrary, it made me think of all the Frosty Freezes I was in the
process of losing. And then several large blobs of ice cream dropped onto my
crotch. Red was right. It wasn't my day.
Just before we
reached Ocean Avenue, I judged the game was over, and decided to confirm my
worst suspicions. I would bite the bullet, turn on the car radio and hear the
miserable news, and that would be that. Which is exactly what I did. What I
heard was so astonishing, I was forced to pull over and park. I was suddenly
unable to concentrate on my driving and didn't want to do bodily harm to
innocent motorists and pedestrians.
In the first
place, the game wasn't over. There were about 40 seconds left to play. In the
second place, the score was 24-17 Chargers. In the third, fourth and fifth
places, Oakland had the ball on the San Diego 18-yard line, Dan Pastorini had
just injured a leg, and Jim Plunkett was taking his place. There was only time
for a couple of plays. The Raiders had to score a touchdown and the extra
point, or they would lose. If—and it was an enormous if—the Raiders got that
touchdown and the extra point, they would tie San Diego 24-24, the game would
go into overtime, and I couldn't lose, even if the Raiders did! Six points is
the maximum that can be scored in an overtime period (a field goal for three
points, or a touchdown; extra points are dispensed with), and of course I had
the Raiders and seven. I turned to Red, grabbed her shoulders in my hands, made
her face me, and solemnly said, "Look me in the eyes."
Red looked me in
"Redhead, I promise on my word of honor, on my mother's life, on the lives
of my sister's children, if Plunkett completes a touchdown pass...I'll marry
"O.K.," and smiled.
back, then stepped up into the pocket. He looked left, and threw right. The
radio announcer said it was a high looping pass heading for the right corner of
the end zone. Raymond Chester leaped miles into the air over untold numbers of
Charger defenders, gathered the ball into his arms, and fell to earth for a
Raider touchdown. I stepped out of the car and began jumping up and down on
Santa Monica Boulevard as if I were trying to stomp out an imaginary fire. The
extra point was good, and the game went into overtime. I continued dancing in
the street, shouting, "Yay, Jimbo! Yay, Raymond! Yay, Oakland! Hooray!
Yahoo!" Out of the corner of my eye I saw Red dancing, too. She was also
screeching, "Yay, Jimbo! Yay, Raymond! Yay! Hooray! Whoopee!"
married!" she yelled.