Saturday, September 01, 2007

Baird Men

I spent a hot sultry week in Texas in late August with 20 sweaty men. And no, I am not a Senator from Idaho.

Somehow sandwiched between two appointments in Texas I was able to fit in our 18th annual fantasy football draft in an armpit now known as New Ulm – about 60 miles west of Houston. Well in actuality it was a simple little place that we Texans like to call country – but it had its challenges. Namely it didn’t have internet or cell phone coverage. So it was black out city. And that was ok. (but different). And it certainly wasn’t the casino in Louisiana that we had gone to the past two years (but was now gouging us for big dollars on hotel rooms).

Doesn’t matter. This fantasy draft thing is really an annual reunion of guys I have known from high school, college and bidness. The oldest relationships go back as far as when I was 15 with Mud, Dave and Jim. We’re all 49 – that’s a fucking long time.

We were staying in bungalows to have the draft and golf and what not. Ronnie, Todd, Mark and myself came up the night before to have a boy’s night out. Ronnie (TAMU class of 81) is as much a pop culture advocate as I am. So it was there as we were kibitzing about on the porch over adult beverages that we realized we had simultaneously witnessed a pop culture gem while in two very different states (that would be California and Texas).

Rock: I watched Scent of a Woman the other night. It has to be a top ten movie for me.
Ronnie: I did too! “I’m going to take a flame thrower to the place!.”

And so on. If you don’t know this movie that Al Pacino won his lone Oscar with – then run don’t walk. It’s a touchstone. Scent of Women is the tale of a young college guy, Charlie Sims, who goes on a weekend in New York with an older blind ex-soldier (Frank Slade) to make a few bucks while in college – and he’s also getting hosed by his buddies in a political snitch confab. And Slade only wants to go to New York to commit suicide – and poor Charlie has to stop him. And when he does, Slade saves him back (sound like Pretty Woman?) by representing him at a court-like proceeding at the Baird school where he is being incentivized to ratting out some classmates.

Of course you know the movie. And the whole point of this post is that our draft group got it as well.

What is interesting to us guys is that we can pretty much identify with both the characters – Charlie and Frank. Charlie, as the young college student full of ideals trying to make the next step, and Frank Slade the washed up old veteran who has seen the years. We are now both of those men.

While the movie is great it is nothing without Al’s pulsating monologue at the end. It is everything and it is here. And it was everywhere during the draft – and realize this is a bunch of guys calling out football players names for 6 hours – but it was pelted with comments like “Baird men” and they’re just “minnows” or “ you’re going to crucify his soul!”.

The universal feeling that we got from several of the guys about this movie was a bit overwhelming. I will admit that this is one you don’t want to talk about – it’s a bit touchy feely – but everyone was a fan of Al’s speech. And that is a guy thing – don’t want to admit it but its there.

The reality was we were all “Baird Men” and, then, not. Most of us were Aggies. That’s a good group.

Baird men.