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LOOKING OUT FOR NO. 1 CAN DRIVE A GUY BONKERS

by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

WIMBLEDON, England — “Hello?”

“Is Boris in?”

“Who’s calling?”

“Just put the little twerp on the phone.”

“One moment, Mr. McEnroe.”

“. . . Hello?”

“Boris?”

“Yon?”

“THAT’S JOHN, YOU PEA-BRAIN!”

“Zorry.”

“Forget it. Look. I saw what happened Friday at Wimbledon. You shouldn’t have lost. Second round? The defending champion? No way.”

“I know. I am better player than dis Peter Doohan. But he heet shots dat ver unbeleeevable! He vas vantastic! He vas-“

“No, no, no! You got it all wrong. The opponent is never fantastic! You are always better! That’s your problem, Rhine- man. You’re too soft.”

“Zoft?”

“SOFT, YOU MORON! SOFT! SPEAK ENGLISH! SOFT! MAKE AN ‘S’ SOUND. SOFT!”

“Zorry.”

“AHHHHH. . . . ” Now repeat after me “Vat should I do, Yon?”

“That’s why I’m calling. I’m gonna share a few secrets with you. One champ to another.”

“Zanks.”

“WHAT?”

“Um . . . zank you.”

“Don’t zank m-, uh, don’t thank me. Just listen. Now. Let’s say you’re losing, like on Friday? First thing you do? Scream at the chair umpire.”

“Vat should I zay?”

“Try this: ‘ARE YOU BLIND? YOU MORON! YOU FAT LITTLE MORON! YOU ARE THE PITS OF THE WORLD!’ There. Now repeat.”

“Uh. . . . You moo-ron. You are de peets of . . . “

“PEETS? WHAT THE HELL ARE PEETS?”

“You zaid peets.”

“PITS! PITS OF THE WORLD.”

“Peets of de vorld.”

“THE VORLD? WHERE IS THE VORLD? IN THE ZOLAR ZYSTEM? IN THE OOONIVERSE?”

“Wwww—orld.”

“Awright, awright. Let’s try something else. If your opponent gets ahead? Distract him. Make a big deal about something. Anything.”

“Like vat?”

“Like . . . well, like a fan who coughs. Even if he only coughs once, start screaming: ‘HEY YOU STUPID MORON! WHY DON’T YOU GO TO A HOSPITAL? GO SPIT YOUR GERMS AT SOMEBODY ELSE! I HOPE YOU DIE, YOU $&#!!’ “

“Vat vas da last vord?”

“$&#!!”

“?

“No, no! Not asterisks. $&#!!”

“I don sink I can say dis. . . . “

“YOU IMBECILE!”

“Eeembeeceele.”

“IDIOT!”

“Eeedeeot.”

“GOD, BORIS, ARE YOU STUPID!”

“God, Boris, are you ztu–.” Boris is the boss “OK, OK. We’ll try some non-verbal stuff. When your opponent is going good? Slow the match down. Break his concentration.”

“How?”

“Pick up sawdust and throw it at somebody.”

“Zawdust?”

“Sawdust, grass, strawberries, your shirt. Anything. Show that guy who’s boss.”

“Yon, perhaps you are right.”

“And another thing. What’s this I read about your manager sending your girlfriend home?”

“Is true. He zaid, ‘Boris. No bonking.’ I did not know vat dis means, bonking. Zo I zaid, ‘Ja, no bonking,’ and poof! My girlfriend is on airplane.”

“Look, Boris. You’re the boss. You wanna bonk? Bonk. Your manager doesn’t like it, bonk him. The press doesn’t like it, bonk them. Bonk everybody. You’re champion, man. You rule.”

“Vhy are you geeving me all dis advice?”

“Maybe because I respect you. Maybe because I think you’re a fine champion. . . . “

“Yes?”

“Maybe because if you do some of these things people won’t think you’re such a cutie, and maybe they’ll TELL YOU TO TAKE A VACATION AND GET MARRIED AND CHANGE DIAPERS AND MAYBE I CAN GET BACK TO BEING NO. 1 WHERE I BELONG, YOU BABY-FACED –.”

“I zee. Vell, OK. I vill try.”

“Good.”

“And Yon?”

“JOHN! JOHN! WITH A ‘J’!”

“John? Bonk you very much.”

“You’re wel . . . hey, wait a minute. . . .”

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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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