Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Last Dance of the Chicken Man

What will likely be the final weekend the Missus and me ever spend at Union High School was not in vain. Frank's effort to capture the Region 3 title at 189 pounds came up one win short. He fell in the finals. But the weekend's mission was accomplished nonetheless. He will be heading south next weekend. If you are a high school wrestler in New Jersey, your hoped-for destination at season's end is Atlantic City. Frank has earned his way to his destination.

Friday the rag-tag traveling caravan that is the Middlesex High School cheering section shall head south on the Parkway again. The Missus and me are making our third - and likely final - trip to the State Championships. Over the past eight years, we have had the pleasure of watching the brothers Bozzomo ply their trade - something that each has done with more than a measure of success. Joe capped off his high school career with a 6th place finish in the State in 2006. This week, Frank makes the second of back-to-back trips to AC. He finished one match short of the podium (top eight finish) last year. I would not pretend to know what his chances of placing are this year. Other than knowing the names of the kids he has wrestled this season - including those who will join him in AC - I would not know the other competitors in his weight class if I tripped over them. It is a safe wager however to presume that every young man who shall compete this weekend believes that he is capable of making some noise. Each of them has attained enough success in arriving at this point to have earned that confidence.

I have lived here in the State of Concrete Gardens for forty-four plus years. The sewer that is Atlantic City has existed in its present form for close to my entire life. We got into the casino business here in the 1970's. Gambling was legalized here with the promise of economic prosperity and untold riches to be shared by the many. Perhaps that was the dream but in response to the query, "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true or is it something worse?" Atlantic City has been something much, much worse. And its prospects for improvement are not good.

Yet, as much as I loathe the place I am looking forward to making my third trip since '06, which will likely mark the final time I ever set foot in it, other than for work purposes (believe it or not the Superior Court of New Jersey Atlantic County is located on Burt Bacharach Boulevard). I have gotten a lot out of - and have enjoyed very much - spending a portion of the past eight years watching Joe and Frank wrestle. For what they have achieved on the mat and for the manner in which each has conducted himself they have brought much pride and much joy to their family and to all who root for and care about them. This weekend represents the journey's end.

Down here it's just winners and losers and don't get caught on the wrong side of that line. Frank will not.......

....regardless of this weekend's results.


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