“Welcome to the court, Wendy Simon!”
The crowd gave a limp response that was mostly sarcastic clapping, some misogynistic comments, and people saying “this is a great time to take a piss and grab a pretzel.”
Wendy didn’t care, she was in her glory. Ever since she entered that contest at the Sbarro on campus she dreamed of this moment. Never in her life did she have so many eyes on her. The most she had, outside of standing in front of a class, was when she attempted to do an open mic at the student center in front of a staggering five people – it’s biggest turnout to date.
Wendy was the type of girl who didn’t get much attention. She didn’t take care of herself, had a few close friends, and often read Tolstoy, Kafka, Capote, or, when alone, Stephenie Meyer. Her afternoons were typically sitting atop the cobblestone wall that surround a small pond behind her dorm room reading absentmindedly as she drifted off into thoughts about how she wants to be swept off her feet one day by Edward. She spent her nights alone in her room watching basketball videos, it was a secret obsession, she considered herself a good player even though she never built up the courage to join a team.
She once made 15 free throws in a row, a commendable feat in her mind.
As she strode out to the center of the basketball court she was 50% invigorated and 50% terrified. Her knees knocking together the whole way, she finally made it to center court where she stood next to the M.C. taking in the moment.
Of course this was a division three school so there was only about 60 people in the crowd, but this was still the most people she had ever been in front of.
“Hi, Wendy, how are you tonight?”
“A little nervous, huh?”
“Yeah.” She said sheepishly.
“Well take a deep breath and we will start to countdown from five.”
“Everyone let’s start it up! FIVE!”
A few scattered people among the crowd joined in but whispered the numbers as to not be singled out as a participant in such events. Wendy grabbed one of the multi-colored, Harlem Globetrotter-esque, balls off the rack and took her customary six steps backwards.
Wendy takes a deep breath and focuses on her training. She was notified two weeks earlier that she had won the opportunity to take a half-court shot during the homecoming game against the Raccoons at halftime. As soon as she heard the news she contacted a study-partner who happened to be dating a member of the basketball team. He rode the bench most of the time but he still had to make the team so some skill must be there she thought.
Everyday at three Wendy and Warren would practice in the gym for two hours. Wendy actually got pretty good. During their sessions she would make two-to-three half-court shots with about 70% of them actually hitting the backboard.
Wendy closed her eyes, took one last deep breath and then opened them.
“And now here goes Wendy for the chance to win a $250 gift card to Sbarro! GO!”
Wendy holds the ball with two hands over her head, the ball behind her as she charges forward like a soccer player throwing it back into play. Everything around her slowed down but it’s not clear if it’s the mocking complacency of the crowd or if her mind has actually slowed everything down. As her left foot plants right before half-court she thinks “I GOT THIS!”
Her arms come forward like a catapult used to protect the throne and she release the ball high into the air. Her eyes go wide as the ball flies away from her becoming a little smaller as each moment passes. It’s on-line to go straight into the basket, she can taste the Sbarro now.
The M.C. is jumping up and down in faux excitement, the crowd lazily follows the ball as it reaches its precipice and begins its descent.
“It’s going in.” She whispers to herself as her heart begins to beat faster. Her whole body is warm with excitement, her senses are tingling and her mind goes completely blank. A premature smile comes across her face and she starts to raise her hands in celebration.
The ball reaches the rim and hits off the back causing it to bounce high in the air creating more suspense than a $250 Sbarro gift card should ever create.
But this is more than a Sbarro gift card, this is Wendy’s moment in the spotlight – well the biggest spotlight she had ever been in.
The ball finally succumbs to gravity and starts to come back down now hitting the front of the rim where it bounces a few times and sits there for a moment that seems to last a lifetime for no one else but Wendy.
The ball is indecisive, it won’t make up its mind.
Then it does. It falls toward Wendy making a loud thud on the floor.
She missed the shot.
“GODDAMN COONS!” She screamed.
Whatever noise that filled the arena, which was mostly the ball hitting the hardwood floor repeatedly, was now sucked out of the room. Wendy grabs her mouth as the words she just screamed finally registered in her mind.
“No! No! No! I love black people!”
The M.C. covers his mic, “I think they thought you were talking about the opposing team, one, and two I think they were reacting to you cursing God not the obscure racial epithet you made.”
Now Wendy was in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.