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True Life: I'm a Stringer for the Winston-Salem Journal

It’s been quite a while since my last column, and naturally most of you probably assume that I pulled a Ricky Williams and left to study holistic medicine in Australia for a few months. Or perhaps you assumed that I pulled an Eric Heroman, declared myself for the NBA draft without any college basketball experience, and have been showing off my jumper for the scouts for the past couple of months. After all, the gaudy 5.2 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 4.0 fouls I put up per game during this year’s B-League intramural season led Andy Katz to say recently, “He would have to be legally insane to hang around for his senior year. In fact, if he does stay, that means he probably isn’t smart enough to graduate anyway.”

However, as some of you may know, I neither traveled to Australia nor declared for the draft. Stunningly, I decided to retain my final year of NCAA eligibility and hang around at Wake Forest to try and get some sort of piece of paper they’re handing out next May. And since my last column, I’ve been pretty lazy.

But I have done a few things. I’ve spent far too much time trying to teach myself how to play piano, even collaborating with my friends Jonathan and Thomas to put together one of the worst live music performances of the past 20 years (clips are available on this site, and yes, there will be another performance when Jonathan comes in town in early June). I tutored an eighth grade student at least well enough so that he passed his end of grade test, and at least well enough to get myself a tasty pay raise to 20 dollars an hour this summer. I have found (after extensive research) that 99 out of every 99 girls are legally insane, but the government has rejected my findings, claiming that the fact that I am also insane could skew the results.

I’ve also continued to cover some high school sports for the Winston-Salem Journal, which finally provided some inspiration for me to grind out another column. As I noted in my column “So I’m a Real Journalist Now?” every game I cover provides something a little bit different. Maybe it’s the coaches, the players, the game, or just the trouble I usually run into trying to get my story in on time. The job occasionally gets painfully hectic, which occasionally drives me crazy, which ALWAYS gives me fantastic material for a column.

So using the same gimmick I employed for my should-have-been-Pulitzer-Prize-nominated columns “Not My World Cup of Tea, But…” and “Real World: Dishwashing,” it’s time for another running diary. Today I’ll be detailing my trip on a Friday afternoon to cover the West Forsyth-South Mecklenburg baseball game in Charlotte. Our story begins like any other day, with our hero waking up early.

11:45 a.m. – Since my cell phone is plugged into the wall across the room and I have no clock in my room, I have no idea what time it is. My body feels like it might be time to get up, but I don’t want to risk getting out of bed when, for all I know, it might be like 10:15 or something. So I give myself another 10 minutes…

11:55 – I just rolled out of bed to check the time, and I immediately feel more productive because I’m up before noon. Should be a good day.

4:30 p.m. – We’ve skipped ahead because absolutely nothing of consequence happened in the last four hours. I’m heading over to my apartment because I know need something out of there, but I can’t remember exactly what it is.

4:40 – I walk into my apartment, but I have no idea what I need, so I leave.

4:45 – I’m a little tired, so I run by Starbucks and get some coffee. I make a point to order “the biggest coffee you have,” even though I know they call it a “Venti.” I’m trying to make a statement, because any time a company names their smallest possible size “Tall,” they don’t deserve my respect. Nonetheless, this “biggest coffee you have” coffee I just ordered is mucho, mucho grande.

4:50 – Just remembered what I forgot at my apartment – blank CD’s in case I need to email my story from the Charlotte Observer. I’m sure there’s absolutely no chance this will come back to haunt me later.

5:15 – I’ve finished my “biggest coffee you have,” and my mood has improved substantially. Let’s not kid ourselves; I’m pretty wired at this point.

5:20 – I just planned out my entire summer and wrote a short novel in my head, all in the last five minutes. The coffee is apparently starting to kick in.

5:40 – I hit traffic around Lake Norman. I’m sure it will be fine.

6:00 – Still in traffic. I’m actually writing stuff down while I’m driving, partly because we’re going about 3 miles an hour, and partly because I really don’t drink coffee very often.

7:00 – Since the traffic jam lasted about 45 minutes, I’m pulling into the school as the game starts. I slip my Oldsmobile into a microscopic parking spot, squeeze out my door, and start my jog towards the field. When I arrive at the stadium, the game is already in the bottom of the first inning and the press box is looking a little crowded. Thankfully, the guy from the Charlotte Observer offers me a seat next to him, and I slowly begin to feel like less of a goon.

7:10 – My allergies kick in and my nose starts running incessantly, forcing me to break out the wad of tissues I stuffed in my pocked before the game. After about 15 minutes, I have a stack of about four used tissues beside me and I’m almost constantly holding my finger to my nose so I don’t start sneezing. I feel like a goon again.

7:45 – Now for an update on the game: South Mecklenburg is starting to take control and the game’s moving along pretty quickly, which is always good news for me. When West makes a pitching change in the fifth, I finally run to the bathroom and take one of the 10 or 12 best pisses of my life. On my way back, I start to head up the stairs to the press box and notice some good looking girls glancing my way. I’m so money.

7:45:02 – I just tripped near the top of the stairs. All dignity is lost. I am not money.

8:30 – Things are looking up. South is cruising along and will likely close this baby out before 9:00, plus the Benadryl I took an hour ago is starting to turn off my nose faucet. I’ve also started writing up my box score, so if all goes well, I could have my story in nice and early.

8:50 – South closes out West 8-0, and I head down to the field to do some interviews. These actually go pretty smoothly, and I finally get in touch with the AD from South to check on using their field house to email my story.

9:40 – I absolutely blazed through my story in about 35 minutes AND I got some free food from the hospitality tent. In fact, some ladies from the school just gave me an entire 2-liter Pepsi and two big cups of ice for the ride home. The story isn’t even due for another hour and a half. I am now money again.

9:50 – I head into the field house to email the story and notice that the room actually DOES have an Ethernet cable like I had hoped. After a celebratory trip to the urinal, I return to find that my computer is pulling the “yes, the cable is plugged in, and yes, I am connected to the internet, but no, I will not email your story” routine for some reason. No big deal, though – I’ll just burn my story onto a CD and email it from the Charlotte Observer.

9:51 – I realize I do not have any CDs, and I do not know where the Charlotte Observer is. I am not money whatsoever.

10:00 – I call the Charlotte Observer, and to my surprise they actually don’t seem too pissed about letting me use their computers and giving me directions from all the way across town.

10:10 – I swing into a 24-hour Harris Teeter and break out the old “Please, God, I’ll never ask for anything else if you let Harris Teeter sell blank CDs right now” prayer. Thankfully, it works, and mere $4.37 later I’m back in business.

10:30 – I finally get off the highway with the Charlotte Observer in sight. But for some reason there are hundreds of people roaming the streets. This means two things: I cannot see anywhere to park, and my cell phone won’t work around that many people.

10:40 – After one trip around the building, I realize that Three Doors Down is having a concert about one door down from the Charlotte Observer. So, the crafty veteran that I am, I drive away from the building and THEN make my phone call to see where I should park. This works brilliantly, and minutes later I pull into the parking deck UNDER the Observer like a complete badass.

11:00 – My story is finally in (after one more minor hiccup in which I was told the wrong email address to send the story to) with about ten minutes to spare. Like there was ever a doubt.

11:45 – Biggest decision of the night: whether or not to stop at Steak and Shake on the way back. I make the correct decision (as always); I pull into Steak and Shake and a lovely 60-year-old waitress named Diane fixes me right up with the Steak and Shake Dinner. I have concluded in my 21 years of life that stopping to eat at Steak and Shake is the correct decision in almost every set of circumstances imaginable, unless childbirth or a missing limb is involved. And even then, it’s not necessarily wrong to stop…

12:30 – I’m now listening to 102 Jamz, and they definitely have the “late night only” DJs on the air. I’m not sure these two know they’re even on the radio – they’re just babbling back and forth about “new joints,” “old school joints,” “the flows,” and something about how “the whistles go WOOOO!” And yes, I made that last line up.

1:15 – I’m back safe and sound to the house. The coffee has completely worn off and my bed is audibly calling my name as I walk in the house. But before I call it a night, I get on my computer and head to Sure enough, my article is up on the web, almost exactly the way I wrote it. All along, I was so money, and I didn’t even know it.

Anders Larson Archive