I am debuting my comedic monologue “The Harbaugina Monologue” tomorrow at Cafe Zoe, at an open mic, from 1 to 3, a benefit for Project Read.
As it happens, I had two opportunities yesterday to talk about football, and how it fits my psyche.
First, I paid a condolence call to Mr. William Davis Parker, my old little league coach and father of my schoolmates Nancy Taylor and Bill Parker; Mrs. Joan Parker, who I recalled as having the world’s finest spinach salad recipe, had past away last fall. During our visit, among the recollections I had was that at the first week or so of school in the fifth grade, when I was new to Fremont Hills Elementary, in Los Altos Hills, Calif., (but of course part of PAUSD), there were some intramural touch football games the first of which ended with me catching a pass from Billy Parker in stride and for a long touchdown. At the start of the second game, the captain of that team, the 6th grader Frank Kull, walked up to me, poked me in the chest, and said “I know you. You are Mr. Bomb. Well, I’m gonna cover you myself.” The name did not last more than that one afternoon, but it was nice to be recognized.
Earlier that day I was waiting for my friend on Main Street Los Altos and a group of students passed, on their way to Linden Books, with a teacher. I heard one young man addressed as “Spencer” and recognized him as the son of my old Terman Tiger teammate, Brad E. (I knew Brad had a son of that name; there was a story about their baseball team in the local paper).
I followed the group into the store, explained myself to the instructor and asked for an intro to Spencer.
“You know my Dad?” he marvelled, shaking hands.
“Yes,” I replied. “We played football together. Many years ago. In the eighth grade. I blocked for him and he carried the ball. He was bigger than me, although he was also faster.”
He repeated his astonishment that I indeed know his dad, and I added the impressive facts (or the coincidence) that I also knew that his grandparents were celebrating their 5oth anniversary (because I am driving my Dad to that event, and my Mom).
We had a funny flag football team in that I was a tackle on running plays and reported eligible to line up as a receiver on passing plays. I recall telling the audience at a City Council candidates forum in 2009 that twenty years earlier on that same campus that I made a diving catch on the last play of the game, Terman versus Wilbur, but the officials said I was beyond the end zone and ruled it incomplete, and we lost what turned out to be our only blemish to the season. In the candidates debate so many years later I brought it up as some kind of vague example of the problem with arbitrary authority.
Beyond Terman flag football, I don’t have any actual experience on that topic, except as a fan, and as a sportwriter, and now I blogger. But I plan to start my comedic monologue – which might stretch to 60 minutes or so once I get the hang of it–although tomorrow I will probably be ready for the showers (or worse: retirement) after six minutes or so with these stories to establish my expertise.
The gist of the act –whether it is funny-ha-ha or merely funny-strange shall be revealed –is that I am the exact same age as the 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and recall playing against him in high school basketball, when he moved to town in 1980. I never liked him — I admit he is or was an exceptional athlete, all league or better in football, basketball and baseball for Palo Alto High — while I was at the rivals, Gunn –and I think it funny that I have this angst I carry around about him all these years, 32 and counting.
In April, 1982 our high school newspaper staff, at the Gunn Oracle, produced a joke issue of the Palo Alto Campanile (the Crapanile) which featured several articles about a fictitious character, based on Harbaugh, called Jim Harbarph. We were commenting on the fact that the actual Campanile lauded him ad nauseum. They featured a picture of Harbaugh playing basketball for their Winter Sports wrapup tombstoned with a picture of the same guy pitching for their Spring Sports Preview. And the rest, as they say, is her story.
But it is also true that even as I try to unfold myself (that a term from Hamlet Ii) here people actually are adding to my tale with their favorite Harbaugh-hater-stories, including a dad from the fabled 1980 Vikings gridders, and a Mom from the Stanford team he recently coached. (I haven’t tried to reach the Detroit Lions coach, nor ask Ben Rothlesberger about that nationally televised pat on the tush, which I captured and released).
The dad I am talking about doesn’t hate Harbaugh but did recall something useful as comedic fodder.
It’s mostly my own viewpoints and perspective but here it seems I could read through 398 comments at Youtube to see who agrees with me (although many others side with and identify with Jim)
The title is a play on the famous Eve Ensler monologue, the title of which I referenced above because the local society columnist could not bring herself to mention it by name when the feminist author spoke to Castilleja here, a tony girls school.
I will have to procure some dental insurance as this thing progresses. Meanwhile, record mogul and budding monologist himself, Joe Sib of Side One Dummy Records and “California Calling” (which did include a riff about 8th grade flag football, “velcro versus snap-ons”) said to keep the day job.