A friend called me up and said he needed one more team to sign up for a volleyball league that takes place on a sand volleyball court outside of a bar in Chicago on Wednesday nights. I threw a team together and showed up that first Wednesday and couldn't believe that it was even worse than you would expect a court outside of a bar would be. At first I was pissed that I had committed my friends and I to playing in an unsanitary and unsafe environment once a week, but slowly all of these quirks have grown on me. I took some pictures to help you get a sense of just how crazy this whole thing is because I don't think you would believe me unless you saw it for yourself.
Here is the court. It is a bunch of sand poured into a giant plywood box, which is why we started calling it Litter Box Volleyball. The net permanently droops in the center, and there is no way to adjust it. You get the volleyballs from the bar before your game, and many of the balls have bite marks in them. Why, you may ask? Because when the ball goes over that wall you see pictured, it lands in a Doggy Daycare. When that happens, the ball either flies over the fence back to us right away and we say thank you to the staff, or it mysteriously flies back over 45 minutes later, or it never comes back at all and becomes a permanent chew toy for the doggies. Because this disrupts the game and because the balls are expensive, whoever is deemed at fault for having the ball get into the jaws of the hounds has to take an immediate shot of room temperature Malort, which is just about the grossest liquor you'll ever have.
The sand is not nearly deep enough, and in some spots there will be two inches of sand with concrete underneath. I dove a couple of weeks ago and cut my knee up really bad. One of the Litter Box veterans then told me, "Oh yeah, don't dive." Don't dive? I can't help it. I just react and go if I see a ball about to hit the sand on my side. Right when it was just about healed from a week or two before, I dove again and opened the cut right back up, which is what you see above.
So you got the DoggyDaycare on one side line, the other side line is a street, and then on one end line you have two very smelly dumpsters, as you see pictured above. It's smells terrible on that end of the court, so dumpster side always serves first. Seems fair. If someone spikes one past you that doesn't get stopped by a dumpster, then someone has to run down the street barefoot to fetch the ball. Sometimes it sort of veers down the street and just rolls forever downhill. This is why I have found that when I'm holding down the dumpster side, it's good to keep my flip-flops handy so that I can slip those on and run down the street more swiftly and safely.
On the other end line you have the back wall of the bar, and there is an apartment above the bar. Sometimes the ball will hit the satellite dish, knocking out the transmission on the NASCAR event viewed by the regulars in the tavern, or it will land on the upstairs tenant's porch. The guy up there has visitors that come by very briefly and leave, there are some strange chemical smells coming out of there, and other signs that make us think maybe he runs a "business" out of there. But would he take such a risk with all these yuppies in his backyard drinking beers and playing volleyballs in his backyard? Maybe so because the other night he had not problem drawing attention to himself by hopping on his bicycle/motor cycle, cranked up that engine, and went around the block to fetch two tallboys of Icehouse beers. It looks to me like this is what we called a "mini bike" as kids, only this one has an engine attached to a bicycle so he has the option of pedaling as well. It was loud too, let me tell you! A five city block radius is always aware when this dude is making a beer run.
There is one little nook where a ball can go down this alley as well. There are rusty nails everywhere, so this is also a good opportunity to slip on your sandals before venturing in. Tetanus shots should be given out as readily as Malort shots around this joint. I'm serious.
We usually drink buckets of beer outside by the shabby court, but on one rainy night my friend and I noticed the fine array of beef jerky flavors prominently displayed behind the bar. In case you can't read them, the flavors from left to right are as follows: Jerk This, Tickle My Teriyaki, Pepper My Cornhole, Blowout Cajun Jerky, Fire In the Hole, and Hot Habanero. You'll notice that's my hand throwing out a pair of scissors because I was thinking it would be a fun game to play paper, rock, scissors and the loser has to try the jerky of the winners choosing. If a guy had already Doggy Daycared a few balls that evening and earned a few Malorts, some Pepper My Cornhole jerky could really push him over the edge to have a reversal of fortune, or at the very least have a very, very rough Thursday ahead of him.
What do you guys think of Litter Box Volleyball? Anyone want to sub in next Wednesday? Anyone play in any goofy leagues of any kind this summer that you want to share with us in the comments?