Diggin’ It

            Many of you are probably assuming that the title to this missive indicates a discussion of the beloved Sugar Smacks icon Dig ‘Em, the cereal eating frog. Although I have met Dig ‘Em on several occasions and found him pleasant, he is in fact quite a dull conversationalist and not worth mentioning hereafter. The title instead refers to the infamous Diggs Tournament; an annual even held in Southern VA in which colleges from around the nation would come to play volleyball, camp out, and do plenty of drinking and frolicking. While my homies and I had no truck with the sport or those who played it, we were very fond of drinking and frolicking and so made glorious plans for that weekend.

            It was a beautiful spring in my last year in the AF and things were beginning to shape up considerably, or so it seemed. In the social turmoil that occurred after the Animal House fellows departed, a new core social group emerged, thick as thieves and sturdy as an oak. In these golden times we could not foresee the thunder heads on the horizon that would be sparked by the arrival of Vaughn that would culminate in violence and betrayal of the worst kind. Enough about that until its time.

            Tiff had gone to the tournament the year prior with Harley, Kent and the rest as Kent had a fine talent for sniffing out where the really good times were to be had. After returning, she seriously could not shut up about it and managed to finally excite the rest of us into mounting plans for a grand expedition. In preparation we obtained tents and camping supplies, enormous coolers filled with nothing but sausages and diggs-tournement-travis-cartoski-cliff-souder-bryan-bray-tim-kylebeer, and many yards of Christmas lights; my contribution as I had the greatest collection. The key to a good time at these things was to stake out a good camp site, and establish the boundaries. As thousands of people flocked to this thing, arriving early was essential.

            Tiff and I worked the overnight shift on Thurs/ Fri and took off for the event right after work that morning and managed to stake out a premium location. Alex arrived soon after and the three of us defined the campsite by pitching our tents at the three corners of the perimeter. I set to work hanging the lights, as a single outlet was available for use. Despite Alex’s protestations that they should not do so, I insisted they remain blinking; an affront I would pay for in the night to come.

            We spent the morning drinking beer, as on the overnight shift everything is reversed. Generally I was in the habit of being in bed by 11:00 AM for a 4:00 or 5:00 PM wake up. Though I tried to retire to my tent about noon, tired after working the previous night, the hot VA sun beat down making sleep difficult. In addition, people were flowing into the area by the dozens, and I would swear that despite the out of the way location I had chosen, every single one of them managed to knock into my tent as they strode by with their gear. The reason I mention this all is to help explain events further down the road, which I am obviously foreshadowing with the delicacy of a rock through a plate glass window.

            Unable to get good rest, I decided to join the revelers in what would be a long and hazy day. Our campsite consisted of our new core group: Tiffany, myself, Bryan, Alicia, Alex, Travis, Kelly, Tim Kyle, Bowsher, Celeste and Mike. In addition, some of the others from the shop managed to find us as well, like Farm Boy, Cliff, Badman, and to my considerable annoyance, Foster.

            I’ll be perfectly honest and admit that I didn’t care for Foster because Tiff had a thing for him. That in and of itself was not hate worthy, but that I found him to be such an idiot douchebag that it rankled me something fierce. It’s not that he was a bad person, per se, but that I saw him as someone with no future and definite bad news. For lack of anything else, I settled into an annoyingly protective big brother role for the time and let my unwanted opinion of this gentleman be known. My first encounter with him had been an evening at Travis’s where he called over to see what Travis was doing and admitted that he was just cruising about town with a bottle of whiskey. Travis had the good mind to lure him over and confiscate his keys until he slept it off, but it did not generate a glowing picture of him in my eyes. Sadly I report that his habits proved fatal and that he plowed his car into a tree not long after I departed, killing himself and his passenger.

            On the first night, no volleyball was played to my knowledge; not that we had any intention on watching any. One of the best features of the early evening was the annual marshmallow fight which I partook in with great glee. What I found interesting about it was that almost all of the participants seemed to actually fear being hit by the fluffy clumps of tasty goodness. As I expended my ammo early on, I moved up to the front lines in order to recycle spent ordinance and hurl it back against the other side. Before I knew it, the front line was a good 10 feet behind me and I was on my own hurling against the retreating opposition. All but one; a perky co-ed who also was not terrorized by the bouncy little missiles and joined me in reusing spent sugar. We quickly became locked in a death match.

            By the end of it, we were about 5 feet from each other, scooping up and hurling fast and furious, attempting to get desirable face shots in that had the devastating effect of causing the other person to momentarily blink. By that point the front lines on each side had retreated to the point where they could no longer hit each other, so instead concentrated on us to the effect of nailing their brave points in the back far more than the opposition. The match was finally called a draw. At that point, my brave competition charged up to me, into my arms, gave me a surprising kiss, and ran off. Later in the evening I went looking for her, but this was an impossible task in the darkness and chaos.

            Most of the evening was spent as expected, drinking and wandering about between campsites, with time taken here and there to cook a sausage or two to keep up the energy. I would like to remind everyone that by midnight on Friday I had been awake since about 4:00 PM on Thurs and that a full 32 hours had passed since I had last slept. Combine this with copious amounts of beer, an epic marshmallow fight, and much reveling and you have one tired monkey. I remember sitting down on the lounge chair for a moment of rest and nothing else until I opened my eyes to see Tiff standing over me smiling and tugging something off of me.diggs-tournement-i-am-decorated-ii

            I appeared to be tangled in some sort of wiring that was starting to burn in places. I moved my head and a full can of beer fell into my lap, making me drop the sausage that somehow found itself in my hand. It slowly dawned on me that I had committed the cardinal sin of falling asleep amidst this group of drunken assholes. I was very happy to find out that my eyebrows were in fact intact and the rest of me for the most part. I was fortunate in that my friends provided the necessary restraint in holding back the younger instigators. I received the information with some degree of horror that Badman had been poised to dump a cooler full of water of me before Alex pulled rank and stopped him by pointing out the usual negative effects of mixing water with live wiring. Oh, but he would get his.

            The following day was much of the same and I managed to get by without watching a single volleyball game. I have no doubt that Aaron is reading this with growing irritation as he would no doubt far more enjoy the recounting of a ball being batted back and forth than plodding through my seemingly endless and pointless story. Smack balls on your own time I say! Tiff and I each traveled back to Hampton for showers and I came back in the early evening with enough time to let the fun begin again.

            One of the benefits of this trip was that it gave Tiff and I a chance to iron out some issues and definitively define what our relationship was to be from then on forward. While the final conclusion was not my first choice, I did feel somewhat relieved to have things settled once and for all, lingering hopes not withstanding. I felt that with that I would be able to enjoy my remaining time all the more and could not have been further from the truth, but for other reasons.

            That night I was introduced to the concept of ‘muddin’; a sport by which someone with a jeep revs it up and goes charging about, usually though the mud, until it becomes stuck. Bowsher was so kind as to bring his jeep along, and although we had diggs-tournement-bryan-bray-attempts-to-driveno mud, he and Bryan felt the freedom to plow it careening through the trees between campsites at breakneck speeds while foolish passengers stood hanging on to the roll bar. Naturally I was first in line and managed to take the attached picture but moments before Bryan managed to surprise me with a quick right turn which threw me from the vehicle. I can’t believe no one got killed that night, though many an angry pedestrian was forced to dive out of the way.

            By the following morning, I had enough of the hoopla and peeled out of there at the crack of dawn. In my haste to be away I ended up missing Badman getting his finally in a move of unbridled stupidity it should have been included in my last story. Our way of disposing trash at the campsite was to burn it in the fire. Everything from paper plate to beer cans and bottles met their end in the fiery furnace at the camp center. Badman, apparently deciding he didn’t want to carry the rest of his cooler home, decided to chuck a full, capped bottle of been into the fire. Not understanding what happens to pressurized containers when suddenly heated, he remained next to the fire looking in. The bottle of course exploded right into his face, showering him with boiling beer and glass shards, nearly taking out an eye. As it was, he had to be rushed to the emergency room and was known as the bonehead of the month in the shop for sometime after.

            The Diggs tournament had one other longer term effect. On the second night we were there, Bryan decided it was time to call me out. He didn’t approve of all the time I spent hanging out with Tiff instead of pounding brews with the boys. The nipple ring as well particularly offended him. I was accused of the high crime of being unable to hang anymore and a pussy to boot. The charge hung heavy in the air, greeted with thunderous silence by all present and hushed to hear my rebuttal. Thus the challenge was born whereby I had one shot to prove my manhood and relative worth to the drunken assemblage.

            Having taken the proverbial glove to the face, I responded to the slap with a call to formal dual. A date was quickly set and rules established. Deciding to eschew the traditional 10 paces and pistols as the Air Force had recently banned the practice; we chose as a field of honor our living room with the weapon of choice being Jagermeister. The rules were simple. Every 10 minutes we would each down a shot of the syrupy medicine, poured by an impartial third party, until one of us passed out or hurled. Anything else was fair game – we could eat or drink anything else we chose, but just not throw up.

            The event itself became well publicized in no time and everyone who heard begged for invitations to the event. In the two weeks leading up to it, heavy wagering was made, and Bryan emerged a quick favorite. Once it was a foregone conclusion that I would indeed be the one to fall, more bets were made as to how many shots I would last; some of the speculations being pathetically low like 4 or 5. Bryan may have had the rep, but I had an angle, Charlie.

            The day came with much bravado and chest beating. A select few observers were invited to witness. Wagar, John McCauley, Bowsher, Travis, Kelly, Celeste and Mike in Bryan’s corner, and just Tiff in mine. God bless her for believing, although later I found she had money on Bryan and was just trying to be outwardly supportive. Bryan and I each made a show of having a couple of beers before the contest even began as evidence of superiority. The time came and we began. Alex poured and we did the first shot. Immediately I put my strategy into play. I got up, went into the kitchen and downed a full 16 oz glass of water, and continued doing this after each and every shot.

            Bryan, who was welcome to do the same thing laughed at my strategy feeling I was likely not even delaying the inevitable crash. By shot 5 I had a mild buzz but Bryan was talking loudly. At shot 8 I was teaching Tiff how to play chess while Bryan was staggering about with a glass of water trying to catch up. At shot 11 I was making spaghetti for everyone in the kitchen while Bryan was starting to not make so much clockwise-johns-sister-bryan-bray-me-alex-wagar-john-mccauley1sense anymore. Alex appeared in the kitchen and remarked that things weren’t looking so good for the home team. I then wrote down my spaghetti sauce recipe for him from memory with a steady hand. At shot 13 I was playing chess again when Bryan suddenly lurched over, scattered the pieces from the board, then bolted for the door and hurled in the courtyard. The mighty Wolf had won the day and bragging rights forevermore.

            Alicia put Bryan to bed and the party continued for some time more. Everyone was somewhat schnockered by then and it suddenly seemed like a good idea to hop the fence of the complex pool and go skinny dipping, my first time to engage in this activity and much emboldened in all respects from the awesome victory I had won. Unfortunately I may have beaten Bryan down a bit too hard. Not only did I publically trounce him, see his girlfriend naked (which he understandably didn’t appreciate), but I didn’t even get a hangover due to the massive amount of water I drank. The following evening as he staggered about with the dry heaves, I callously offered him a beer, which he wisely declined. I was not challenged again.

            We all agreed that Diggs had been a real hoot, and would have been even more so if the extras hadn’t shown up with their howling and bloody accidents. We planned a 4th of July weekend down in the Outer Banks of NC with just Tiff, me, Alex, Bryan, Alicia, Tim, Bowsher, Travis and Kelly. At that point I felt we were a pretty tight knit group and had no way of predicting that within 2 months any given person was only on speaking terms with one or two others. In any case, we kept the trip hush hush and I was tasked with making the arrangements.

            Tasking me with this was a fairly stupid thing as the sum total of my planning was that we would drive down there and figure things out from there. Initially we planned to go down caravan style but ended up doing a ‘Cannonball Run’ style race to the big fish at the Nags Head welcome center. Tiff and I won handily as she knew some back road shortcuts. Tension ran a little high once we met up and it was clear that we had no idea where to go. It was here I also learned that women really don’t appreciate history lessons in times of uncertainly as my attempts to explain the significance of Roanoke Island and Kitty Hawk were shouted down in short order.

            As the sun was going down and things seemed hopeless, we stumbled upon a beautiful stretch of beach with large sand dunes and a grassy field for the tents in Kill Devil Hill. The property was posted of course but we decided to trespass wantonly as no one was around to shoo us away and all the real campsites were full to capacity. My total lack of planning actually worked to our benefit as the illegal accommodations were far better than being crammed into a crowded KOA full of families, frats, and grouchy seniors.

            We didn’t know that it was to be the last great time we would all have together, but enjoyed it as if it were anyway. It was also Tim Kyle’s last weekend as he was the first of our generation to say goodbye. Aside from his faux homosexual advances on old Grigs, he was one of the few to make it out without significant strife and would be sorely missed in the war torn months to come. It was a great weekend filled with fun on the beach, big cook outs; crab dinners at the local shacks and even a bit of go-carting. The nights were filled with drinking, story telling and watching the sunset from the giant dunes; the makings of a golden time in the last great summer. When we packed and left, we were already excited about the next outing which was never to happen.

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7 Responses

  1. Bah! It is well known that volleyball tournaments are better for drinking than playing. I would have also ignored the volleyball.

    Nice job with the injected pictures. You have also ramped up your writing schedule this holiday season. I have another “Official Story” in the works.

    i look forward to the story of the war-like final months.

  2. What’s with the random reference to seeing his girlfriend naked, is that from a previous story I’ve already forgotten? Did you have any bets on yourself or did you win only bragging rights?

  3. Actually it’s from a line previous in the very same paragraph in which I mentioned how all those left standing went skinny dipping; traditionally done naked. Louis, I’m surprised! That was a Thies level comment!

    I didn’t have any bets on myself as I was one of the most surprised that my crazy scheme actually worked. I read about the tactic in Maxim, as did Bryan as we generally read from the same copy, making him a three time loser in this regard.

  4. Due to your odd, long-winded sentence construction, I had read that part to mean that you went skinny dipping in the pool on your own.

  5. That would have been too pathetic to mention! Unlike, of course, the rest of the pathetic things I insist on mentioning, if only to make all the others whose nipples I’ve twisted feel better.

    Are you coming back to Buffalo?

  6. What a silly question. Of course. I am here now.

  7. Once again I managed to miss everyone who came back to town, including Dan who actually called and got me on the phone. Dammit!

    Anyone so inclined to actually want to see me next time they are in town, please:

    1. Let me know you are coming as far in advance as possible.

    2. Make me commit to a date and time.

    If not so inclined, well just keep doing what you are doing as it is working fine.

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