After some awful luck in the past week or so, I should have known that my first pick of horses for the Kentucky Derby — Animal Kingdom — was destined to win.
But of course I wasn’t actually betting money on the 20-1 odds for that horse.
Instead my shot in the dark only served to repair my wounded ego after a series of unfortunate events (you might call me Lemony Snicket) had made me the butt of Oakdale jokes in recent weeks.
It all started when a peaceful trip to an Easter celebration at Oakdale Cheese and Specialties turned drastically evil when I mistook a small goat for what I was certain was a wooly lamb. My improper caption identification of this barnyard buzz kill was printed, then quickly recognized by reporter Dawn M. Henley (who most people don’t realize is a clip art cartoon in real life).
At first I thought Henley was just our resident expert on all things wooly, but soon found that reporters, advertisers, paginators and even staplers could tell the difference between a lamb and a baby goat — no ‘kid’-ding.
That’s what I get for not joining FFA in high school.
Things didn’t get much better in the next print edition, when our sports page was marred by the swapping of Trent Noon and A.C. Brown in two features publicizing their commitments to wrestle in college on a pair of scholarships.
This was a rare mishap by our copy desk, which routinely turns my Picasso-like sketch designs into front sports page gold week after week. It’s never happened before in my tenure with The Leader and probably won’t happen again soon. I could probably tell the difference between A.C.’s goofy grin and Trent’s bored beam from a few hundred yards, but that’s only because I have two years of Oakdale wrestling coverage under my belt — which is a black belt by the way. Okay; so maybe it’s more of a dark brown.
So the lamb … err goat was a product of my farmhouse incompetence and the Brown/Noon swapping was an unlikely layout mix-up. Too bad I have absolutely no excuse for my next blunder.
On Friday, I got prepared for my day the same as any other.
“Is that clean? Sniff… sniff… smells clean.”
“Does it match? Well kind of, but since when did you care about that?”
“Do you see any problems with this attire?”
“Naw, I’m golden.”
Actually I was green. Green and yellow to be exact, the color of my throwback Oakland A’s jersey, which just so happens to be the same hue as Oakdale High’s rival to the east and up the hill, Sonora High.
This didn’t dawn on me until I pulled up to the OHS parking lot, and realized that my game to cover was Oakdale vs. Sonora to decide the Valley Oak League baseball championship.
I made a quick check to the back of my car for a new shirt.
“Is that clean? Sniff… sniff … no that’s awful.”
But I think the Oakdale baseball community would have preferred a shirt with fast food stains to that with colors of the Wildcats.
As I strode up the Oakdale baseball diamond, it took just seconds for the first “Wrong Colors!” to resonate off my dome. Mustang senior Daniel Linder broke the news, announcer Pete Simoncini shook his head in disbelief and football coach Trent Merzon even texted Linder from across the complex to convey his own disapproval of my pigment selection.
I felt like the world’s ugliest cardigan on an episode of America’s Top Model.
By the time Oakdale hurler Russell Longworth had thrown the last pitch of a brilliant no-hitter over Sonora, I had heard an astounding 15 comments on my incorrect wardrobe.
They came from parents, players, coaches, stat keepers and I swear even the distant lambs/goats were chiming in.
Ike Dodson is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.