Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, December 3, 2016, 10:28 a.m.
I got lots of work done this week, but the last two evenings have been kind of random. After days of mostly writing, I left the house in the afternoon, ran some errands, made no definite plans.
On Thursday night, I headed in the general direction of the Presbyterian College basketball game against Johnson & Wales, which I kept calling Scotland & Wales, but first I decided to eat supper.
I thought about Chinese, and then I pulled into the parking lot of El Jalisco Mexican Restaurant, and then pulled out, and then considered a few other options before going back. A man and woman were playing music in the bar, and the first song I heard was a Charlie Robison tune and I knew I was hooked up. Several friends showed up, as if by magic, and I stayed a while.
The musicians were Harold Senn and Catherine Varner. I know this because Harold gave me his card, which refers to them as A Touch of Gray: Music for Mature Folks. I knew all their songs. I have more than a touch of gray, but I’m not too sure about how mature I am. At times, I feel in suspended adolescence, but most times I just shoot for a few decades shy of my age as measured in years.
I drove by Templeton Center and stopped in the parking lot, where I checked my Twitter to confirm that the Blue Hose were safely ahead at the half. Then I drove on home and failed to watch the NFL game between the Cowboys and Vikings. Harold and Catherine left me in a mood to play, on my guitar, a couple songs they had played, I knew and hadn’t played in a while. I was mildly cognizant of Dallas winning.
On Friday night, I did go to the game. This time I had a few errands in Laurens, and, as luck would have it, by the time I got my hair cut, shopped for groceries and had supper in a restaurant we don’t have in Clinton, the timing was just about right to watch the Red Devils and Raiders play boys’ and girls’ basketball at the LDHS gym.
As testimony to all this being unplanned, note that I took no photos.
It was a three-quarter-full gym, the Laurens students were dressed in flannels and the Clinton kids were in “ugly Christmas sweaters” (and man, oh, man, did they take that seriously), and the teams split. The Laurens girls clobbered the Clinton girls, 64-22, and the Red Devil boys trimmed the Raiders, 49-46.
This is not a peak time in the annuals of Clinton girls’ basketball, but I rather enjoy watching them play because I so respect their effort. Girls, I have observed, have more enthusiasm than boys at the high school level. They are undaunted by adversity. I respect that they play hard even if not well. Boys, in similar circumstances, are more prone to sulk. Clinton has one polished player, M.K. Kelly, who looks as if she is playing a game all her own to which her teammates cannot adapt. She is the only player. Others are athletes who are there for volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter and softball or track in the spring. At times, it looks as if the glass backboard might crack from the force of one of their layups, but they do have good athletes and will get better as they become more acclimated to the current sport.
The new head coach, John Gardner, has some work to do.
The boys’ game was not pretty. Clinton barely won a game in which, if you didn’t look at the scoreboard, you’d think it was winning by 20 points. The Red Devils also have a new head coach, Eddie Romines, whom I can attest is obsessed with basketball because I have known him since he played it.
Laurens’ Ben Sinclair entered the season with the barest cupboard I have ever seen. No one who did anything for last year’s 16-6 team is back. The Raiders graduated 10 seniors. Sinclair did a fine job coaching them, and they almost pulled off what would have been a stunning upset.
The Clinton boys have lots of players who have only recently arrived on court from the football field, as the season was lengthened by hurricane recovery and a playoff berth. They sometimes appeared to be still playing football. They played at a dizzying pace, regularly out of control, and that is why a game they played at an 80-point pace ended up producing 49.
Clinton (2-0) could be strong. They aren’t anywhere close yet. Region 3-3A is likely to be strong in most every sport. The first- and second-seeded football teams, Newberry and Chapman, are meeting next week for the upstate football title. Every season is going to be a slog, but it’s the reason they play.
The two schools meet again on Tuesday in Clinton. I might go wandering again.
Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs.
Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my third novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, is on Kindle sale at $.99 for the entire month. Links to print copies are below.
Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.
Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.
Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.
The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.
The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.
Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.
Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).