By Kristen Gehrke
The call came in the middle of the night, as this type of call is apt to do. I scrambled for my phone and mumbled something into it before accidentally hitting the speaker button.
“Hi,” the gravelly voice at the other end of the line said. “It’s Larry.”
“Larry. Don’t you remember me?”
“Larry that my mom used to work for?”
“No.” He sighed. “The other Larry.”
The only other Larry that came to mind was an alligator I fell in love with on a trip to the Wildlife Safari when I was four. I’d made up a whole story about how we were going to get married and live in the jungle or some such nonsense. I was four.
“Yeah, I don’t know any other Larry. Have a good night!” And I hung up.
The phone rang again. Stupidly, I answered. “What?”
“I bit Merritt Paulson.”
“Who is this?”
“Larry, I have to ask you something ridiculous.”
He hesitates. “Umm. Okay.”
“Larry, are you an alligator?”
“Of course I am.”
So, last week, Twitter revealed to us that our beloved Merritt Paulson, owner of both the Thorns and the Timbers, had somehow gotten himself bitten by an alligator.
We’d seen the gigantic bandage on his hand during the championship ring ceremony for the Thorns and a fair few of us chalked it up to an injury sustained when an intern (or other team official) had wrestled his phone away from him.
Apparently, we were wrong.
Merritt Paulson was bitten by an alligator and now, at 3 a.m. on a Sunday morning, the alligator has tracked down my cell phone number and placed a call.
I don’t even know how these things happen. How do alligators dial telephones?
“So, Larry, tell me: why did you bite him?”
He sighs. “The answers to this one question are many and varied.”
“Lay it on me, Larry. I’m listening.”
With that, Larry launches into a complicated explanation involving generations of his fore-gators, the new Beckham team and the issues with finding a suitable stadium site, his dislike for modern capitalism and his desire for, oddly enough, the Timbers to find their first win of the season.
“See, that’s key, that is.”
I sigh. “What is?”
“You all needed to refocus. You spend too much time trying to figure out what’s wrong with the team. Tactics and planned subs and lack of fitness and the missing French guy and I don’t know why everyone hates Paparatto so much. He’s gonna be fine.”
“I don’t understand what you’re saying, Larry.”
He groans. At least I think that’s what an alligator groan sounds like. “You stopped for a few hours. You stopped analyzing and overanalyzing and reanalyzing and you talked about something fun. Because what’s more fun that Merritt getting bitten by an alligator?”
And I realize he’s kind of right. “You know, Larry,” I say, yawning. “I wore a plastic alligator on my head all the way through the game Saturday. Some of my friends did, too.”
“I know,” he says. “And I forgive you. And you’re welcome.”