Peace, Love and Thunderstanding: The Rebuild (Part 1)

"You'll be back," Tony told me at my going away party, "faster than I was." He stopped there, but in his eyes he said the rest. "What will fill the existential hole in your life?" Family? Sure, there was plenty of that. Coaching youth sports? For a time. As the weeks turned into months, and the months turned into years. The call of the Ogle whispered to me at night, and running away from it, I turned to the only thing I knew.

Competitive checkers is a fickle mistress. In a sport where the median age is eight, the spectators turn on the veterans like myself. The flair and precociousness I developed in my early years in the sport were frowned upon when forty year old me spiked the final jump and requested my juvenile competitors to find a real job. My endorsement deals dried up. Tournaments turned me away for fabricated reasons such as me not attending that elementary school. Occasionally, I found an underground game where a couple triple-jumps might give me a few moments of relief, but more often I found myself turning to pints of Trader Joe's Limeade, straight from the bottle.

One day, while sitting in a mostly vacant parking lot in Nichols Hills, waiting for the store to open and checking Twitter while my nerves demanded sweet, sour nectar, the whispers came back. "The Thunder have a whole roster to re-make and no one is talking about it on The Ogle," it said to me.

Well, until now...

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