It’s our last full day at the beach—but never fear—our crew has perfected the art of the vacation finale. We know how to end a fantastic trip with a memorable bang, full of ritual and ridiculousness. The first event of the final day: the bocce tournament.
We don’t take this sport lightly. Our tournament has multiple heats, elaborate double elimination rules, and even a loser bracket. We have arrived at the semifinals. It’s Neal against Gunner.
Neal is on his last throw. This ball has to land closest to the white target ball if he is to make the finals. He pauses. He concentrates. He throws. The ball arcs high in the air, looking like it’s in slow motion, and then thud! It lands next to the target.
Neal begins his celebration. Picture those wide circling arcs soccer players run on the field after scoring a goal. This is Neal, running far and wide, his hands in the victory pose. We aren’t sure, but we all think we hear him yelling in Latin, “Veni, vidi, vici!”
Neal doesn’t realize that he has not yet won. Gunner still has a turn, and he’s standing there—one ball in his left hand—patiently waiting for Neal to stop the shenanigans and get out of the way. Neal stops, flabbergasted that the game is not over. He does not see the last ball in Gunner’s hand.
Gunner throws. The ball hangs in the air in the highest arc we have ever seen. It lands closer to the target than Neal’s. Neal has not made the finals and falls to his knees in agony. He sits in the sand for a while, arms outstretched and facing the heavens. He yells, “Whyyyyyy?”
CJ eventually wins the coveted trophy in his final match against Gunner, but the trophy has to stay in California. Sanctioned games for the trophy transfer happen only at the fall tournament. It is written on the clip board.
The joke of the day quickly becomes the theme jingle for ESPN. “And in today’s sports news, Neal Bocksch runs amok in a premature celebration that ends in agony for him as he is knocked out of the semifinals!” followed by “Dah Dah Dah, Dah Dah Dah.”
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