Coach Kelly. You. Are. Wrong.
– Douglass Arthur Arbisi-Grobnik
Doug & I met in 1983, our first year of Bronco League baseball playing for the West State Grocery together. It was our 5th year as ‘organized’ baseball players; having graduated from T-Ball and Pinto to Mustang and Bronco in league structured fashion. I knew Doug was going to be my friend forever during our 3rd or 4th practice together as Team Grocery.
Many ask how Doug earned the ‘El.’ Let this be the first & only time it’s stated that it has nothing to do with the character Kevin Nealon plays on the popular tv show, Weeds. It’s deeper than that. El Doug was born out of a culturally misdirected racist comment Coach Kelly threw at him in practice when we were 11. We refer to Coach Kelly as The Irish Fuhrer now-a-days. This specific exchange below between Doug & Coach Kelly during name check replays often. I often believe this is when the great El Doug became more of a leader than any one man called mayor of Rockford, IL. And at such an early age.
Grabnik-Arbisi?? Doug raised his hand.
Check. Warhole?? Doug kept his hand raised.
Oh you got 3 last names?? Hand, high.
Coach, my name is Douglas Arthur Arbisi-Grobnik, not Grabnik-Arbisi.? Here it comes.
Hate to brake it to ya kid but I don’t play games with hyphens & vowels ok? Ok. How about we make all the Mexicans here happy too? I’ll just call you, El Doug? Ok? You’re fast too- 2 laps, now! Warhole?? Doug kept his hand raised.
It’s called english- 2 laps, now.? Holding hand high.
Coach. It’s Whorehall. Like a hooker. ?Hand still raised, team laughs.
Grabinski-Arbinski, we got a funny guy, like a hooker. Lemme guess your pops over there is a banker too? 4 laps and bring the bag of balls to the other dugout on your way back. Now, now now!? Hand held high, frozen, not 1 motion to move himself towards running any laps.
(The defining moment El Doug would be my friend forever.)
You don’t make any sense! Coach Kelly. You. Are. Wrong. 1, It’s Whorehall not Warhole; 2, I don’t run laps; 3, I’m Polish-Italian AND American, not Mexican; 4, I quit. I hope you lose you.. you, ummmm… you drunk Mickey!
‘You drunk Mickey.’ Obviously Doug confused something he heard his ma or pops recite around the house with a Disney character. His heart was all there though the brain to mouth delivery & execution wasn’t quite perfected yet.
Doug’s hand remained high. Each finger but the middle one collapsing into a proud fist. The most memorable bird man & child could imagine. He stood up, tried to spit, failed, and briskly ran towards his father. Stu happened to be chit-chatting with my dad, Randy, 30-40 yards away. Thus began a lifelong friendship rooted in team, irony, rebellion, pride, defense, humor, ethics, rules that are made for the breaking, the grounds for quitting, & character,
That day forward, Doug became El Doug. He owned that title with a finger, not as a quitter. He came back to play; though he was forced to apologize to The Irish Fuhrer at his mother’s request. The apology should have been the other way around. Yes, Doug. But what are ya gonna do now about it?
The irony settled in at such a young age. We didn’t quite get Coach Kelly’s racist jokes til later on in life. Doug prefers to refer to Coach Kelly or thoughts of him as a mouse still. That drunk irish Mickey. What a rat.
Many drunk El Doggie conversations resort back to Coach Kelly if he’s feeling the blur & burn. Here’s my breakdown on Coach Kellys & everyone we know Uh oh.
Hiya I’m Mister Coach Kelly I know everything. Um lemme call up my other drunk, righteous,Rockford, IL roofing friends & we’ll fix that ourselves. Save some money, bring a keg of Miller Lite & some weed, & let’s make a party out of it? Ok. There ya go Matilda, I fixed it honey!
Meanwhile, 2 years later after the roof caves in, call the professionals to undo the wrong you’ve done to do it right. Guess who you call? Here’s a guess: Vowel-Hyphen-Consonant. El F*cking Doug. To think he was our coach with a mouth like that?! People like him ruin it for everyone. What a jerk… this f*king town. This *cking town. Three words that end many of El Doug’s drunk rants.
I tend to blame Coach Kelly for Doug’s drinking problem. But without The Irish Fuhrer, there may never be an El Doug. So was born ‘The’ Doug as some fortunate enough have come to know him. The promise of a good leader was always inside him; humble enough to take a lap or two for the team (or not) depending on the situation. Not anymore. Instead we got another decent young man ruined by politically incorrect community leaders leading young cubs into a life of irony too early. The good ol’ boy way is also the Rockford way. Depending on your sense of humor, the worst was yet to come.
Welcome to Rockford, IL, saddle up to the bar.
Here’s a bible & a drink chip, stick around for awhile won’t ya?
You still haven’t met El Doug; or the other dumb drunks.