Jim Austin's Vermonter at Large
Jim Austin
Jim Austin
is a freelance writer from Putney, Vermont.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 01.24.03


Mugs away

Well, what a relief! I lost both NFL playoff games last Sunday.

I was this close to opening up my own bookie joint in my basement. I had picked Ohio State over Miami and all four games of the playoffs the weekend before last. I was into my tubby brother-in-law for a C-note, baby. You have to understand that my gloat gland had almost petrified from disuse as regards the rotund one from Goodlettsville, TN.

His hobby is relieving me of my hard-earned scratch on the golf course and over the football season. His pumpkin head with its goofy grin belies a interior attack dog that strains at its leash to strip me of my cash and watch me starve in the streets.

Naturally, last Sunday I was feeling flush with my unpaid windfall and omniscient as regards picking the outcome of football games. I chuckled in a sort of know-it-all paternoster kind of way when BIL* went against his home state and chose the Raiders over the Titans.

I had bet on the Steelers the previous week. They lost the game but didn't cover the spread. I extracted a cool twenty-five bucks from Blappo's wallet by one measly point. So accepting the Titans over the Raiders was an easy choice.

Next I went with my almost unbreakable rule. "Never bet on Florida teams."

Why? You ask, do I carve this rule in stone? It's jealousy, actually.

Every football season as I risk frostbite from dashing outside to start the car before work, I think of Florida palm trees, Florida bikinis, and those Florida drinkies with the umbrellas. This puts me in a bad mood for three months and makes me despise all Florida teams. Logical n'est ce pas?

Unfortunately for moi, Tampa Bay pulled all the feathers out of the Eagles and rotisseried their denuded carcass right in front of their home crowd. Another twenty-five illusive BIL bucks floated back to Goodlettsville over the unpaid debt ether train. By my accounts he still owes me fifty bucks.

Betting means a lot more to me than it used to. Betting is one of the few sports remaining where the encroachment of geriatronomics has not depleted my abilities.

No more am I able to jump in the boxing ring with some up and coming golden glover and bash him senseless in a carefree manner. Nowadays, a few rounds of sock wrestling with Beans, our overweight daschund, is all I can handle. Shorty can officially kick my butt at any sport that requires a) muscles, b) speed or c) coordination of the two. Last weekend we played one on one basketball and I almost stroked out, cheated and lost anyway.

Fortunately, there is one movement-required sport where I still have a chance. Darts. Yes I talking about the game with the little pointy arrows and the complicated clock shaped target.

It requires very little strength, no speed, and minimal coordination. A beer belly can actually be an asset as regards stability. It is truly the only sport where drinking helps.

A few beers will relax the player and soothe any untoward arm tension. Too many beers, it must be noted, may affect accuracy.

After I put a board up in the rec room Shorty took an interest and proceeded to win several games of 301, Cricket, and 'Round the clock. I spent the next several weeks getting up early and going down to the basement to practice.

I borrowed the only book about darts out of the library: All About Darts by Brackin and Fitzgerald and studied it as if I had the final exam the next day. Now, I not only win most of the time. I pepper my comments with dart terms. I persist in saying "mugs away" which is dartese for indicating that the loser of the previous game should go first.

"Middle for the diddle" sounds a bit raunchy but it is the term used before play begins whereby both players toss one dart nearest the bull's-eye. "Hard Cheddar" is spoken when a player shoots a number, which is above that required to win.

"Good Arrow" means good shot and if you've been "caned" you are a loser. Anyway playing darts with the correct vocabulary has the added benefit of making you one of the most annoying people on the planet. Just like Brits who invented the game.

OK, I've got 50 bucks worth of Stevie J's money and since I lost the last game it's "mugs away" for yours truly. The only thing Oakland has going for it is that they are not from Florida. The entire wad goes on Oakland and "hard cheddar to he who gets caned."

(*BIL Brother In Law, pronounced with long "I.")

[EDITOR'S NOTE: And, naturally, YERBIL, which rhymes with gerbil, pronounced with a broad "wye" and the same with long "I" means Your Brother in Law.]