If we pull together, we can do it …
It was to be held behind Duke’s Place at 1:30PM. The time came, we hustled into the truck from PW.
Driving there was uneventful but there was anxiety all around. I could feel it.
Left over from the earlier meeting, the sounds and the sights of our guys with fists clenched, pumping in the air, “We will win,!!, We will win!!”, kept popping in my head as we proceeded.
When we got there, the whole block looked like the typical CBC grounds, grassy and adequately cared for. Is there, I asked myself, a big enough spot for this, here? After we parked, the first impression was that there was something festive going on nearby.
Today was the annual Seabee Day. Families and kids, casually and colorfully dressed, were all over the place. From the looks of things, I knew we were going to have fun. But I also knew, we were there to take a part in a competitive event. But have fun, nevertheless. Win or loose….
It seemed as if everyone knew where it was going to be held. I followed the crowd. On the left side, I noticed many mounds of loose dirt, as high as six to eight feet placed in a single file, bordering the place on the north. I thought, maaann, these contractors! When will they ever stop digging? There was a lot of activity on these mounds though. Kids were all over it. Up and down. Then up again and down again. I remembered my kid-hood and the mounds of dirt I used to climb upon. I also remembered my “tape worm” incident. The doctor told my dad not to let me play in the dirt any more. – Gee, the stuff you remember at the oddest times- As I approached the ultimate location, the corner of my eye caught this sizable, bare spot in the middle of the field. Closer examination revealed a large mud pit filled with water. Oh my God, what was to become of us? I screamed silently, “I’m not getting in there!! No way, in hell, am I gonna fall in there!” I looked around to see if anyone else had a similar panicky look. I met some indicating eyes that; yes the reaction was mutual. Are we all crazy?
Yes, we were and we were going to go through with it. There was no turning back. Now, one could see the opposing team members. You knew who they were just by looking at them. They were the CB’s, with the bulging muscles and thick necks. Spouses and girlfriends helped them limber up while our guys practiced stretching, and flexing. Then, the thing that was to tie the teams together for each match, the rope, appeared within my sight.
It stretched across the mud pit. I thought, oh man, there is enough rope here to hang every one of us if we should lose. Get rid of your sneakers and wristwatch before you get out there, I reminded myself. Before I knew, the stuff was off and given away to a friend for safekeeping. Then all of a sudden, I found myself standing against the rope trying to grab it as tight as I could.
You could only see a couple of guys before and after yourself. I prayed and hoped that there were more guys on that rope on our side. Anxiety was building up. You could hear the short and sharp gasps of air and clearing of throats as usually heard in a lecture hall. This was the “river of no return”. We were the first to go against a mighty opponent.
Finally, the rope was alive, stretched and hard. There was no time to think or rationalize, but to grab and pull, grab and pull, together, with all the might we had. It would inch away in one direction and then, the other as if it made its own decisions. The air was hot and getting even hotter with the sounds from the deepest chambers of the throat, blasting a single word, puuuullll, puuuullll. Spits and sweats were flying in the air, as the heels sank deeper and deeper into the earth. One cared about nothing.
There was nobody except you and the rope. Puuuullll, puuuullll. The body shook and shivered under the duress. You had to keep your eyes half closed to keep the eyeballs from jumping out. I felt my popping ear drums and fingers swollen with blood and taking an ameba shape. I was hallucinating. There was no pain except the pain one gets from being pulled apart.
All body joints cried in unison. I grabbed the rope and pulled again and again coordinating with the panic stricken scream, puuuullll, puuuullll. Mentally, I had a fix on it. It was allowed to move only one way, towards me. There was a yearlong moment, so it seemed, when the rope stood absolutely still. One never exerted so much stress in the body only to achieve absolute stillness of the thing you were tied to.
Finally, The stillness broke, the rope moved in fractions of an inch. Soon, it started to come in a hurry dragging the opposition into the mud pit.
We ran so far back only to stop short of hitting a tree directly behind. My team was up in the air reaching the heights in triumph. It was hard to distinguish the cheers from yelling of pain. The Public Works team had won the first go around. Shortly, the yelling and gasping sounds subsided. We began the process of recovery and realization of a win.
It was absolutely, positively exhilarating!
The Public Works team won two tug of war matches and lost one match on that Seabee Day in 2 May 1997.
By Tall Fellow
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