Of Strippers, Huskies, and the Drill
BEND, OR – I’m 54 now, at an age where I’d really feel pathetic if I walked into a strip club because it would pretty much confirm that I’m a dirty old man, but I went into Stars Cabaret anyway.
The place is filled with hot young girls, all of whom mess with your mind and your wallet. I found a seat near the stage but not right on top of it, making sure I could see the nude dancers and the Wisconsin-UNLV game at the same time.
Why anyone would watch a college football game when you’ve got naked chicks in front of you is proof that the Go 2 Guy is so far over the hill that he’s a speck in the distance. But it’s also proof that after all of these years, I can still use two clichés in one sentence, reaffirming my status as a hack journalist.
I feel a tap on my shoulder. Unfortunately it’s not one of the dancers.
“I’ve got UNLV and the points,” says the stranger, whose voice sounds familiar.
I look at the score – Wisconsin 51, UNLV 3 – and immediately ascertain that having UNLV and the points is not a good thing for this person or anyone else who bet against the Badgers.
I turn to acknowledge this man and still can’t make out who he is because it’s a dimly lit joint and I’m slightly hammered after pounding Kokanees at Bend Country Club all day.
He appears to be mostly disheveled, around my age, no doubt a loser of a man who probably has two divorces under his belt if he’s in this joint.
“Jesus Christ!” he shouts. “Don’t you know who I am?”
The scent of his cheap-whiskey breath appalls me. I take my eyes off of Nicky in her birthday suit and suddenly it comes to me. My God, it’s the Drill! My alter-ego, here in Bend, I’ll be damned!
The Drill and I separated in 1978 after we graduated from Washington State. I went on to do what I thought you were supposed to do in life – have a career, get married, get divorced, have kids, have a mid-life crisis, buy a home in a cul-de-sac.
The Drill did what I wanted to do but didn’t have the balls to do it – he moved to Mesquite, Nevada, and slept with hookers, bet with bookies and hung with drifters. He drank a lot of booze, played a lot of golf and one time mixed the two, temporarily shacking up with a beverage-cart girl named Shelley who must have been as desperate as he was.
Shelley dumped him like all of the others did – women want men who are ambitious, driven and rich, and the Drill is none of those things, preferring to be a penniless slacker.
Because he’s such a golf nut, the Drill hitchhiked here to play in the Pacific Amateur.
I gave him a great big bear hug. He’s my best friend and the biggest Coug fan and Husky hater I know.
“Hey man, did you go to that Raise the Woof thing last week and bark for Sark?” the Drill asks, laughing, already knowing my answer.
“Nope, didn’t make it,” I said.
The Drill can’t stand the Dawgs. He has a life-sized portrait of Tyrone Willingham on one of the few walls in his studio apartment, offering a daily reminder of the perfect 2008 season when the Huskies overcame all odds to finish 0-12.
He scoffs at Steve Sarkisian, believing that the Husky coach must have known about the Reggie Bush shenanigans at USC. He ridicules Nick Holt, the Huskies’ bald-headed defensive coordinator, calling him overpaid and overrated.
It utterly astounds him that Johnny Nansen is on the Huskies’ coaching staff because he played for the Cougs.
“That guy’s a traitor in my book!” the Drill says. “I wouldn’t work for the Dawgs if I was down to my last dime.”
“Well, aren’t you?” I ask.
“Aren’t I what?” he says.
“Down to your last dime,” I say.
“Nope,” the Drill says. “After taking UNLV, I’m down to my last nickel! I still wouldn’t take a job with Washington.”
“You wouldn’t take a job with anyone,” I say.
“Touche,” the Drill says, realizing that I know him better than he knows himself.
“You know what else bothers me about the Dawgs?” he asks.
At this point, I know what’s coming – a full-on assault of the Huskies. I order us a couple of Dirty Mothers – which takes us back to our days at Longacres – and sit back to enjoy the verbal barrage that’s coming.
“Who comes up with their dumb-ass slogans anyway?” he asks. “Last year it was ‘Go Purple. Be Gold.’ What the hell did that mean? They probably paid some ad agency six figures for that crap.
“Then this year, it’s just as bad if not worse – ‘Husky lives here.’ Are you flippin’ kidding me?!?!”
The Drill pauses to down his Dirty Mother and orders another. Desiree is doing some unbelievable things on the stripper pole, but she doesn’t distract the Drill. When he’s on a Husky rant, nothing can stop him.
“How about that Josh Shirley kid? Come on, man, Rick Neuheisel dismissed him from the team at UCLA. That can’t be a good thing, taking on a Slick Rick reject. If I were a U-Dub co-ed, I’d keep both hands on my purse.”
“That’s low,” I say to the Drill, knowing that he’ll continue to swing at the Huskies’ ankles anyway.
“All right then, let’s talk about Johri Fogerson,” the Drill says. “You know that siren they’ve got at Husky Stadium, the one they fire off when they score?”
“Yep,” I say. “Hate that damn thing.”
“Me too,” the Drill says. “And this year we’ll hear it more often.”
“Why?” I ask. “Because the Huskies are going to have a better offense?”
“Nope,” the Drill says. “They’re going to use it every time Fogerson’s in the game because they think it’ll make him run faster!”
The Drill’s laughing so hard that some of the Kahlua and cream from his Dirty Mother is bursting through his nostrils. And I have to admit that I’m guffawing too.
“What do you think about their plan to move students to the end zone after Husky Stadium is renovated?” I ask the Drill.
“That’s frickin’ brilliant!” he replies sarcastically. “They should never treat students like that. I know for a fact they will never do that to the students at Washington State. But it’s all about the almighty buck.”
The Drill is really on a roll. His eyes are slot-machine slits, bloodshot as usual. I figure it’s time to tee him up for one final drive, and I’m expecting a 300-yarder down the middle.
“Any thoughts on Bishop Sankey?” I ask.
“Any thoughts on Bishop Sankey,” the Drill says, repeating the question and pausing for the longest time before raising his voice, causing Desiree to stop whatever she was doing with the pole and glance in our direction.
“Yeah, I’ve got some thoughts on Bishop Sankey,” he says. “YOU DO NOT VERBALLY COMMIT TO WASHINGTON STATE AND BACK OUT OF IT TO PLAY FOR THE HUSKIES, GOD-DAMMIT!
“GO AHEAD AND BACK OUT IF YOU WANT – IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE A COUG, WE DON’T WANT YOU ANYWAY – BUT DON’T BACK OUT AND PLAY FOR THE HUSKIES! PLAY FOR ANYONE ELSE, BUT NOT THE HUSKIES!”
The Drill is trembling. I take the Dirty Mother from his hand and place it on the table. I put my hand on his shoulder in a futile attempt to calm him down.
“I KNOW HE’S JUST A KID, BUT I WILL ROOT AGAINST HIM ‘TIL THE COWS COME HOME!”
A burly bouncer heads our way and tells me that my friend is no longer welcome at Stars Cabaret. Slumping in his chair, the Drill is worn out from his Sankey tirade. I lift him up and help him out the door.
I know he needs a place to stay so I offer him a ride to our rental house in Sunriver. We hop into my truck, and right when I think he’s about to pass out, the Drill has something else to say.
“Ya know, there is ONE thing I like about Washington.”
Upon hearing that, I almost drive off of Highway 97 into the lava fields.
“That new school preshident of theirsh; he sheems like a cool guy,” says the Drill, now slurring his words. “He’s 61 and he married a 38-year-old babe. Gotta give him an ‘attaboy’ for that!”
The Drill…God love him.
“Go Cougsh!” he says before drifting off to sleep.