[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="STOB's Attempt to Re-Create Ken and Steve the Gator."][/caption]
Prior to writing this satirical take on losing a very silly thing like a cannonball competition I want to take a second to recognize the not silly at all happenings around the world. Not normally STOB's place to comment on them, and I will not go into detail on any of the ugliness. Just know that when you read STOB and it seems as if we are ignoring the ugly stuff, it is on purpose. That isn't our place to speak on things such as those. Instead we hope to be a distraction from the craziness. Our thoughts and prayers are with those victims in the cases we all know too much about.
It's a pool staple. The cannonball. Everyone has done it with varying results. Some go for height. Others speed. Many size.
No matter the approach, the result all are looking to attain is the same. The glory of the splash.
On Saturday, I joined the ranks of the splash hungry in a 2nd of annual cannonball competitions at my buddies yearly pool party. It was a hodgepodge of contestants in which I was going up against. There was myself, 6'7 low 200's in weight, guys near/over 300 lbs and gals likely 1/3 of some of their competitor's weight. The competition was to be judged by 3 judges, there were to be only 2 rounds. Out of the 6 contestants (get's a little hazy here) I believe there was to only be 2 moving on to the final round. In the end it turned into a 3 round affair. 4 moved to the second round until finally being whittled down to a final 2 competing for the title.
Scoring was based on the actual cannonball, where splash and good form (knees tucked, arms wrapped...good human impersonation of...well ya know a cannonball for cripes sake) was taken into account, combined with entertainment value (pre-jump dance routine, singing, flexing a lack of muscles...anything to please the judges and crowd).
I had competed in the cannonball competition the year before. I lost, coming in third place. The loss stung right up until the day of this year's competition. It was either the sting of the loss, or the one cannonball attempt in which I rolled and ended up flopping on my back. That shit stings! To say I was hungry would just be wrong. I wasn't hungry, there were plenty of snacks around the pool for me to fill up on, and fill up on them I did. But I did want to win.
The prize was a $5 Target gift card, a WWE (plastic) Championship belt, and a 40 Ounce of Steel Reserve Malt Liquor (which was to be chugged by the winner in Indianapolis 500 Victory Milk-like form). To say the stakes were high, would again just be wrong. This was just friendly competition among friends...but again...I wanted to win. Five bucks at Target could get me more than a pack of gum...it could get me two packs.
The first round was pure madness. There was pre-jump dirty dancing, Justin Bieber's "Baby" was sung, Jake (we all know him!) Tebowed, and there was a failed attempt at a somersault. All got either high or low marks from the judges for reasons that nobody could understand. Then it was my turn. I set down my beer, stepped out of the shallow end of the pool that I had made my spot to take in the competition's attempts. My swim trunks felt as if they were 100 lbs on my shaky legs as I walked toward the take off zone. My head was aflutter with ideas for what my attempt should be...but then I had a moment of clarity within the stress.
"Keep it simple in the first round...execute and save the big stuff for the finals!" - Unknown Guy talking about the NBA Dunk Contest.
With that knowledge gained from (insert guy who said it) I took flight. I was looking for as much vertical jump as possible, hoping gravity would induce a great splash pattern. Once at the apex of my jump I tucked my knees in to my chin (TWSS) and wrapped my spindly arms around my legs, nailing the perfect cannonball form. SLASHDOWN!
Judge 1 - 8. Judge 2 - 9. Judge 3 - 9. 26 total. I was into round 2.
I had taken the entertainment side of the competition and ignored it in round 1 and survived. I went for perfect form and splash only. In the finals I'd need to be more entertaining. Back to Dunk Contest 101.
"Bring in a prop, and you will drink the victory pop." - Me, 2012.
Most of the other competitors had used up their great ideas in round 1. Their second jumps were for the most part lacking in imagination. Then, it was my turn. With my own quote ringing in my ears, I brought a prop AND an assistant. The equivalent of Blake Griffin's dunk over a Kia while catching an alley oop from Baron Davis in the sunroof. I put my version of Baron Davis on the inflatable alligator (Steve was the gator's name) and had the two of them at the edge of the pool. I then got a good run up, and cleared both, while keeping great cannonball form.
Judge 1 - 9. Judge 2 - 10. Judge 3 - 9. 28 total, winner?
No. I thought I had taken the finals. Instead I had the rug pulled out from under me like Arie in the Bachelorette finale. There would be a Splash Off.
Scoring went out the window. It was simple. Both contestants jump and the judges confer to decide who should be the winner.
My competition was a gal.
Already the odds were stacked against me. Two of the three judges were gals and the third judge (Rome) doesn't know a good cannonball if smacked him in the face and called him mommy. Sure I could create a bigger splash, but could I overcome the fact that no matter my approach I looked like some bully pushing around a gal?
My other issue was that I used my best cannonball idea in what I thought was the finals. I was plumb out of ideas and singing Justin Beiber pre-jump was out of the question! Where is my NBA Dunk Contest quote to help me?
"If you are dunking against a crowd favorite...you've got a snowballs chance in hell of winning." - Guy who dunked against Spud Webb, Michael Jordan, Julius Earving, Blake Griffin or Dwight Howard.
I brought back Steve the Alligator, it was my only shot. Only this time he was held perpendicular on the edge of the pool near the wall. I wanted Ken to lay on the Steve the long way as well, but he'd had too many brews at this point and couldn't mount Steve. In hindsight he is likely glad the sentence prior didn't have him mounting Steve, but at the time I was pissed.
This attempt was to imitate the often attempted free throw line take off dunk. Showing the distance in which I was able to jump instead of in my prior cannonball showing off the height. The jump went flawlessly. I thought I just might have a shot.
Then my rival had her shot. She did a comedy routine, that even I chuckled at. Pretending to canoe on the pool deck, and then cannonballing into the pool as if the imaginary river she was canoeing in led her to a waterfall. The entertainment value was high, but I thought I had won the technical aspect.
The judges convened.
It is in these moments that we must remember that it isn't who wins or loses. It's that the competitors gave their all and....
I FREAKING LOST!?!?!?
$5 worth of Target grade A premium gum down the freaking tubes. My dreams of holding the dollar store WWE (plastic) Championship Belt dashed. My blinding headache from chugging the Steel Reserve, now someone else's rush to the medicine cabinet for Tylenol.
This will not be the end though my friends. Oh no! I will once again go for the Cannonball Championship next year. Training has already begun, ideas and blueprints have already been scribbled down and laid out.
And when I do win, the Steel Reserve will taste that much sweeter as I will know how bitter a pill it is to swallow defeat...and chlorine...in a cannonball competition.