It's like Xmas in July, never 2 early to get in the spirit of the season!
>>On a more grounded looking-ahead note, following are some notes my brother, Teff, managed to purloin from the diaries of one S.T.G. when he was out and T. was doing a bit of Spring Cleaning (he's the one done all the work). Anyway-has-it, T. was only outdone by his hero worship of the Big roller(role model), by S. who authored these----Before they hit the presses, or even a decent editor's desk::
The Reaper Bowl
I had never known my friend, Joe Lopp, to be a particular enthusiast of the more popular forms of sports, nor of the popular culture of society, in general, for that matter. So it was with some surprise when he sprang upon me, one dreary fall day, the particulars of our next assignment, or ‘case', as he preferred.
“Well, Stanley, we have quite an outing to prepare for,” he said to me.
“Oh? What’s this?” I asked, normally channels along which potential clients pursued Joe’s services tended to run through me, as his apprentice and personal secretary, so this was indeed coming from out of left field.
“Why, our newest case, of course. And this one will be a bit out of the ordinary.”
“How so, Joe?”
“The clients, for one thing, will be new to our rolls.”
“Are you going to fill me in?” I was going along as I always did. Joe’s theatrical background and nature caused him to draw out dramatically such moments as this. Whenever he had interesting news of any kind, it was easy for me to get swept along in the wake of his own enthusiasm.
“We have not one, but two, new clients. They are working in tandem on this particular venture.” This was not unheard of in the mystery shopper industry, though somewhat uncommon.
“Who are they?” I pressed him, “Names, man, names. And what’s the case?”
Joe chuckled, holding up both meaty paws in a gentling gesture, “Whoa, Mr. Greene, pull up, please. One thing at a time.”
Still rumbling with mirth, he hoisted himself from the depths of his vinyl armchair next to mine, and waddled across the fine Samarkand reproduction rug to the fireplace. Grasping the poker, he prodded the burning logs in the grate to renewed flame, the dancing light flickering about the walls and ceiling of Joe’s study.
“First off,” he began the slow drip-drip of information leaking, always so reminiscent of Chinese water torture, “our client tandem.” He seemed to be choosing and savoring his words here, resting an arm on the mantelpiece. I nestled back in my own chair, watching, waiting. “The first name may be unfamiliar to you. They are the General Consolidated Vending Corporation. Based in Michigan, I believe you’ll find in your researches as we prepare for this case.”
“Sounds somewhat familiar,” I mused.
“They put the vendor into vending, supplying the food and beverage courts at various sporting and entertainment venues around the country.”
“Of course, with such a generic company name, they’d almost have to be in that line of work,” I remarked.
“Just so. And the other client and partner to GenCon in this endeavor is a somewhat more well known, dare I say prestigious, entity.” He smiled down at me.
I sighed, “Who, Joe?”
“The Mid-Mountain Athletic Conference, otherwise known far and wide by the acronym: MMAC.” He drew out the ‘m’ sound as, “mmm.”
“The MMAC?” I, too, drew it out in imitation of him. I sat up in my chair, shaking my head. Was I supposed to know this name? “Who are they?”
“A college sporting conference, Stan,” he replied, with some exasperation, “They’re quite well known for their athletics and business success. A model conference and member of the NCAA. FYI Stan, they are the governing body for college athletics in the U.S. The MMAC and its member schools are looked to by other conferences and their members, for tips and guidance in running a profitable college sporting concern. Honestly,” he turned his back, shaking his own head now at my ignorance.
Not a great sportsman myself, I felt somewhat helpless in the face of this minor dressing down. What could I say? I really didn’t give a hoot about such past times. Still, from the way Joe was talking, this definitely sounded like a big fish in a big pond. I had heard of the NCAA, of course. I wasn’t entirely stunned that he would land such a big client, at this particular point in his career Joe was the best in the business. The mystery shopper everyone tried to emulate, and it was to be the most productive period of his illustrious career. Truly, 'The Golden Years'.
Yet, for all that, if I had never been much of a sportsman, Joe was even less so. How would he relate to such a testosterone-induced industry? It must be noted here that Joe’s sporting experience (and, yes, Joe did regard himself as a great sportsman), was almost totally devoid of much physical exertion. His games and diversions largely consisted of card and parlor pursuits, as well as board and puzzle games. Some darts, arcade, pool and bowling in his youth, to be sure. But, nowadays, croquet and a rare round of golf were all he was up for, when not on a case, or enjoying an evening out at a touring Broadway show, or barbershop quartet rehearsal (where his occasional catcalling had gotten him ejected more than once, I can tell you).
“Indeed,” he continued, “they sought me out specifically. By name, I might add,” he was that good, “yes,” he actually bounced up on the balls of his big, flat feet, preening himself, “they knew me by reputation.” Then he looked over at me a bit sheepishly, recovering himself. “Obviously, Stanley, you’ve had a great hand to play in my success, to date.” He proffered a small, bobbing bow in acknowledgment.
I laughed and stood, stretching. I moved over to the sideboard to pour us a couple of whiskey sours. “Not at all, my friend. I’m a mere mite in your shadow. But, pray tell, what’s the case that would bring together these eminent entities to seek your services?” I asked.
“Well, as to that ...”
On a cold, overcast Friday, during the early hours of October 30th, less than a week after Joe had explained the details of the assignment to me, we boarded an Amtrak passenger liner headed south to the coast. We would not be traveling all that way, however. Our stop was the next afternoon at a mid-size university town in the Appalachian Mountains. After we were taken to our sleeping quarters by the porter and settled in, it dawned on me that tomorrow we would find ourselves at an evening college football game on Saturday, October 31st--
“--Halloween?” I blurted out loud.
“What’s that, Stanley? Er, oh yes, tomorrow is the date of that quaint folk holiday. I hadn’t thought of it, frankly,” Joe was wrestling a bag into the overhead rack.
“This will be my first football game, and on Halloween, even,” I remarked.
“Now don’t get superstitious on me, Stanley,” he finally managed to secure his luggage. Heaving a great sigh of relief, he collapsed into a seat, where he took out his handkerchief, flipped it open so that it billowed like a sail, and proceeded to mop his streaming face.
“I’m not superstitious, Joe --.”
“Morgan, please,” he corrected. “Morgan Bellevue, remember?” (Cont.?)
[These notes date from pre-2008, it's safe to say. There is more to this story...Reaper Bowl, make no mistake....it is simply a matter of acquisition, and transcription. But I will try my best to get the whole thing...]