The Night Sark Came To Town
This is Officer Lee Groinman.
was in these parts, the coldest night of the year, colder than any night
in recent memory, below zero it was, in fact, the only colder I’d ever
seen was in Spokane, but we’re not gonna be talking about anything
Spokane right now…But it was the wind that really grabbed your
attention. A bone-chillin’, suck the lungs right out of your face type
wind, you know the kind…This wind came down from the Northland with a
vengeance, the night became unfit for neither man nor beast…
was the night Sark came to town…
phone rings at my duty station, twenty minutes to shift change. The
read-out on the phone says “Sgts. Office”, never a good sign.
“Groinman, we’re short on staff tonight, I checked the mandate list and
This meant I was to do a double shift and work over until morning. I
was “mandated” on the coldest night of decade. I called the wife Gloria
and told her to keep the water running, and especially in my basement
bunker, my Man-Cave where things are usually colder anyway. “And one
more thing Gloria, keep them dogs in, Malamutes or not, I don’t care.”
“Lee, those two haven’t left the wood stove all night. That wind is so
cold, Elsie won’t even pee.”
Like I said, it was the coldest night of the century…
like to say that at daybreak I was on my way home, but night-shift ends
at 6:15 AM, it’s still darker than the insides of a cow and cold too. I
think it’s even colder now. My truck, my truck! It’s been sitting
in this arctic blast for 18 hours now. No big deal you say? It’s diesel,
Oh please Lord, let it start. Start, hell, I can’t even unlock the door,
it’s froze solid.
“Where the hell are we? SPOKANE?!”
With the help of a cigarette lighter I get the door unlocked. My Big Red
Dodge diesel starts. Life is good….
was the night Sark came to town…
roll into the gravel drive up to my place just before 7 AM. Still dark,
and still blowin’ bitter cold. The backside of my place faces due
northeast, towards Spokane. The backside of my house is taking
the brunt of the wind. Finally, after nearly a day, I was home. I enter
the kitchen to find my wife all busted up in huge sobs and tears.
“What’s wrong Gloria?”
Lee, oh Lee, I can’t flush the tootie!”
“Tootie” means toilet in Gloria lingo. No flush means froze pipes in
problem Glors, I used to live in Spokane, I’ll get these pipes thawed
and we’ll be flush in no time.”
culprit is in the basement, my Man-Cave, the bunker. I enter to find the
exhaust pipe for the vacuum system hanging from the ceiling. The wind
had blown it loose clear from the outside! This left a 2 inch hole
running from my basement directly to the sub-zero arctic wind tunnel
that was just outside my bunker walls. This PVC pipe running into my
basement created a turbo-charger effect, why at the end of that pipe you
could flash freeze beef or human flesh for that matter. Did wonders for
my plumbing as well…
fix the pipe and grab all my football tailgaitin’ gear, ya’ know the box
with all the Coleman propane tanks, I think I’ve got about 10 or 19 of
those buggers all in various levels, some full, some half, some empty… I
get all my heaters going and proceed to ‘thaw’ things out. It’s a slow
process, but never this slow. Along about 4 in the afternoon, I begin to
drift into a coma. I’ve been awake for a day and a half. I think I’m on
“BOOM ,crikkle, shissss”
“What in wonders! Is Gloria taking a shower?” I’m coming out of
my coma. How long have I been out? Gloria’s not in the shower. I run
towards the bathroom, steam is coming thru the bathroom door, I throw
open the door to find water running thru the ceiling fan, water running
thru the bathroom lights, water running thru the bathroom walls, water
running over my ankles, water running thru my man cave...
was the night Sark came to town…
know, I gotta tell ya this, I’ve seen many ugly things in life, headless
bodies, burned babies, but you really do get a special kind of
feeling to see water pouring thru your fixtures…Then to grab a rusty old
pick axe and slam a hole thru your perfectly good ceiling, just to see
where the damage is, a ceiling that just moments before was performing
as any normal ceiling should…My Man Cave bunker is destroyed. Ceiling,
floors, fixtures, walls, photos, books, Christmas cards, the only thing
left standing was the tub. Of course, things come in threes. I’d get
one section of pipe fixed, turn the water back on, and another section
would burst. Repeat. I’m soaked every time. There wasn’t a dry towel in
the entire house. The mess was mesmerizing, all creatures were stirring.
Ho Ho Ho.
Yup, life as I’d known it, was now over…
but time do march on. It is now spring, where hope is eternal and spring
football is merely days away. But we still haven’t seen the insurance
check for the Man Cave Bunker destruction. But in the end, when all is
said and done, with all the repair work I’d done myself, I should just
have some extra coin for a special little surprise for the wife…Spring,
where hope springs eternal…
The Man Cave Bunker is now put back together, it was a long ugly winter
down there, but the place has never looked better. I let the wife go to
the paint store to pick out the colors, she comes back with green.
A kinda puke green. Don’t know if Groinman can do green during
the fall, time will tell. Yup the place looks great, you could damn near
live down there now. I added some mirrored cabinets along two walls of
the bathroom. The first day stepping out of the shower, I got that
wondrous kind of feelin’ of being naked in somebody else’s house. Much
improvement indeed, kinda’ like the football program, it’s spring,
I get this phone call, it’s from my nephew Aaron, a wild-assed kid if
there ever was one, Aaron has a newborn named Jakob Ole, I figure Aaron
needs to get out of the house so he calls on his old Uncle Lee.
“Hey Uncle Lee, Coach Sark is coming to our Church to give a mentoring
speech to our men’s group, I’ve got you a ticket and it’s on Tuesday,
your day off!”
Perfect, I’m thinking to myself, I’m remembering the last time
Sark came to town, now he’s coming to this Church, Presbyterian's no
less to give a talk on mentoring.
wondering if Sark knows anything about plumbing, fixtures, or drywall…
“Well, let’s see Aaron, things are kinda tight right now, we still
haven’t got the damages check cleared yet from the insurance. How much
are the tickets?” “No worries, Uncle Lee, I gotcha’ covered! It’s on me!
Actually Uncle Lee, I figure you’ll go, cause a spectacle of yourself,
embarrass the snot out of me, then you’ll write a story. I’ll have
something to show Jakob when he’s older.
Well, at least the kid’s honest. So Aaron’s doing this men’s group deal,
can’t be bad, he’s bought four tickets to this deal, so it’s my
bro-in-law, my dad, Aaron and me. Aaron’s church is in Yakima, so we
decided to meet at his house. We get to Yakima and the rain is pouring
sideways. Now it never rains in Yakima! This rain brought back memories
of my bathroom ceiling… We were plenty wet by the time we entered that
Presbyterian church. I couldn’t help but wonder about the last time
Sark came to town and if this place had an open bar, nope, and this
Church was also full of Presbyterians…
we make our way up towards the front, the place is packed. We’re wearing
Purple so these three old Codgers see us and assume we’re from the UW
Staff or something, they invite us to sit with them, well, I’d hate to
disappoint so we joined them. When in Rome…
sooner had we sat down, I swear, that these huge plates of Prime Rib
started to appear. They were being served from the slender arms of these
beautiful women, all of them!
“You gals all Presbyterians!” I stammer in udder astonishment. Who
would have thunk it... “Hey Dad! Look at the plates on that one!”
now Sark enters the gym, saved by the Sark I suppose. Did I mention that
this dinner was taking place in the gym? Yup, the basketball gym down in
the basement. We had to walk down this staircase to get to it. Kinda’
reminded me of that scene from “The Exorcist.” Speakin’ of Basketball,
how ‘bout them Dawgs!
Well, maybe ET can teach them to shoot…
after about an hour and a half of us entertaining the three old codgers,
it’s finally Sark’s turn to talk. He’s dressed in a greenish business
suit, kinda’ reminds me of my bathroom wall, but anyway, he cleans up
real good, and this is Yakima where everybody else was in Georgia Boots
and John Deere caps, well there was those one two geeks dressed in
coug gear. I was in the process of escorting those two fools out, turns
out they were the preacher's sons or some such rot, full growed ones
too…pre-paid dinners my arse…
noticed Sark didn’t eat, maybe he’s veggietarian, or he’s on the UW
O-line diet, he mentioned how the O-line now averages 305 pounds. “What
about Morgan Rosborough?” I asked from my seat. “There’s one in every
crowd, isn’t there.” Replied the Sark.
“But only one Morgan!” I yell. “One Morgan is more than enough.” said
Sark went on to talk about how tough things were for him growing up. He
gave much credit to his JC Coach John Featherstone. Sark had no major
offers coming out of High School and had to settle for a baseball
scholie to El Camino JC. I’d never heard of El Camino JC, but I loved
the car. Well Coach Featherstone bet Sark that if he could quit chewing
tobacco by Friday, he could stay on the baseball team, if not, Sark
would have to come out for the football team. Sark promptly lost the bet
and turns out for football.
Sark becomes the starter for El Camino. They go 2-8, the worst season
ever for El Camino, but Sark gets noticed. He gets a scholie to BYU.
Sark now tells the crowd that he went to BYU not because he’s Mormon, at
this point the Presbyterians erupt into a standing ovation. Actually
says Sark “I was raised Catholic.” At this point the Presbyterians sit
Sark becomes the starter and leads BYU to their first non-bowl season in
modern memory. Sark has a better season his senior year, gets hammered
in Husky Stadium for their only loss. Sark waits for the NFL draft,
waits thru day one, then waits thru day two, no phone calls.
Sark opts for the CFL and signs with Saskatchewan, the “Arm pit of North
America!” Where the wind just doesn’t blow, it sucks. Sark plays in the
CFL for three years where he leads the league in TD passes. Sark also
leads the league in interceptions…Oh that Sark…
Sark takes a job selling dot. coms after his CFL stint. Sark is not real
sure of what a “dot.com” is, but he sold a lot of them. Coach
Featherstone hears that Sark is back in town, I don’t think
Featherstone’s bathroom blew up, but Sark was definitely back in town
and Coach Featherstone gets Sark to come out and coach his QB’s.
Sark had found his passion. He could coach better than his physical
skills would allow him to play. Sark had to rely on his superior mental
skills. After all, it was his mental aspects of the game that had
allowed him success, not his somewhat average physical skills.
stage was set. Norm Chow from BYU got the Offensive Coordinator job at
USC. Sark begs Chow for an interview. Chow gets him 5 minutes with Pete
Carroll. Five minutes is a big deal at this time, it’s almost Letter of
Intent Day. Two and a half hours later, Sark is the QB coach for SC.
Sark went on to say that it was eight years ago on a Wednesday night at
10:30 when Carroll asked him to do the game plan for Saturday’s game
with Notre Dame. He wanted it by 8 the next morning! Sark worked thru
the night and got it done. He handed it to Carroll at 8 am the next day.
“Where’s your 15?” Asks
Carroll, Sark had left off his first 15 plays of the game. He got a one
Sark talked to Carroll about the UW job. Carroll pushed him to go for it
with everything he had. Sark also talked to Pete after his hire.
Carroll said “Sark, you remember that time I had you do the Notre Dame
game plan on a Wednesday night?” “Oh yeah, sure Pete.” “Well ya’ see
Sark, even 8 years ago I knew that someday you’d be a head coach. And
Sark, one more thing before you leave, I’ll need that game plan back on
my desk NOW! And Leave my Coaches ALONE! Find your own
COACHES, You ungrateful little CUSS! I’ll rip that job
recommendation in half! You HEAR ME! And don’t let the door slap
you in your ARSE HANDLES!”
Pete, he may recover…
Well Sark went on to close his talk, it was about mentoring and helpin’
each other out and whatnot. He mentioned Coach Cozzetto, who is nearly
20 years older than Sark himself. Sark says that Coach Cozzetto calls
him “sir.” “Dan, ‘Sark’ is fine when addressing me.” “Okay Coach, but
dammit, I feel like I’ve been reborn here!”
sir, folks, Coach Cozzetto feels “reborn” here at the UW. Makes you
wonder about the goings on at ASU? You see, you’re never too old to be
mentored per Cozzetto and Sark.
how about our Dawgs, and the return to glory?
Coach Sark says: “It won’t take long. I didn’t come here to lose! This
is WASHINGTON! Every year is a BOWL YEAR. We are
about CHAMPIONSHIPS! The guys are transforming their bodies. I
can see this TRANSFORMATION happening right before my
Yup, kinda’ just like my Basement Man-Cave Bunker…
After Sark’s talk I caught up with him just as he was about to exit the
stairs and disappear into the rainy and dark Yakima night. “Hey Sark!
You ever do any drywall?”
looks back at me, smiles and says “Nope, never did the drywall thing.
But Rosborough has, I’ll have Morgan give ya’ a call.”