You know what I dream about? Not surprisingly, sometimes I dream about rowing. Often I am at the World Championships, and I am panicked. I have forgotten exactly when my singles heat is scheduled and even how to get to the course...
. . . and I'm worried I won't make weight, the ever-present recurring nightmare of all lightweight rowers.
But sometimes I dream that I am 28 years of age again and we all get to revisit the 1973 U.S. National Lightweight Selection Camp at Dartmouth . . . and we get it right this time. Indeed, if I had a time machine, I would definitely go back to ‘73, take some of the strongest rowers aside, and teach them how to make boats move efficiently and effectively.
Oh, yes! Now I actually know how to move boats . . . and I know how to teach it! I would do everything in my power to include these larger-than-life athletes in this larger-than-life effort to boat the best lightweight eight the world had yet seen. I might even give some of them a copy of the rest of this memoir.
And while I was at it, I might just travel at least one more year into the past and teach my own younger self how to move boats as well . . . so perhaps I could hang onto my own seat in the 1972 Eight. After all, my performance in 1972 was not all that different from others' in 1973. I wasn't moving boats any better than they were. It's just that my seat race results were acted upon.
Absent assistance from the future Peter Mallory via time machine, the 28-year-old Pete Mallory was scheduled to accompany Fairthy and his newly-selected U.S. Lightweight Eight to the 1973 European Championships in Moscow that summer as his Assistant National Coach . . .
. . . but Fairthy hadn't spoken a word to me since I first pointed out to him in private that he was ignoring his own seat race results at great peril to the success of the team.
I was just dying to see Moscow, dying to see all the events, all the competitors, all my friends on the heavyweight squad, to trade for international shirts at my first international championship regatta, just like I'd always dreamed!
And don't forget, I was also dying to see Joan Lind in Moscow.
But I just couldn't do it. I was dying just thinking about it.
And so, reluctantly, I submit my resignation to Fairthy and head back to my new home in Long Beach, California, more determined than ever to find a cure for PMD . . . Pete Mallory's Disease.
If I could now, surely I would also go back in that time machine and cheer up the Pete Mallory of that brutal summer of 1973. Hang in there, buddy! Our future will yield this magnificent quilt, for Heaven's sake! Shirts from East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Poland, even USSR . . .
. . . and those are just some of the ones that haven't disintegrated in the decades since! In just five years, in 1978 we will indeed be coaching at the first of the several World Championship Regattas that will mark our career . . . in 1979 we will even make it to Moscow! Oh, the irony! Real life is always stranger than fiction. Couldn't make this stuff up!
And pins to trade and collect. Don't forget the pins. We'll have a whole hat full!
And the regatta posters and pennants and boat club flags! A whole collection, in fact, two houses full! Even regatta banners, for Heaven's sake? From all over. When all this finally comes to pass, you're going to love every minute of it, so hang in there!
Incidentally, eventually Larry Wittig starts talking to me again. The same with Mark Davison. And I can report to you that not too long ago I also tracked down Pete Maxson in Florida to let him know that in this memoir I would be describing his role in my life, warts and all. He is the same as ever, still my hero.
I reached out to Fairthy Farthington, too, after he had suffered a harrowing automobile accident a few years ago. I got a lovely email back. He has long been associated with Occoquan Boat Club, organizing crews and winning many Masters World titles along the way. Sounds like he has lived a good life making rowing dreams come true. Bravo Fairthy! Wasn't it predicted that you would rise again?
"At sea one day, you'll smell land where there'll be no land,
and on that day Ahab will go to his grave, but he'll rise again within the hour.
He will rise and beckon. Then all - all save one shall follow."
- Elijah, Moby Dick, Herman Melville
To be continued . . .
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