THE MARSHALL PLAN: Imagine a place

It is like I’ve encountered an episode of The Twilight Zone or the mind scrambling show the Black Mirror. Recently, there have been days and minutes where I fully expected to see a curl of cigarette smoke and a shadowy figure emerge.

He would look at me and say, “There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man … a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination.”

He would add, “Submitted for your approval is a story of a man and a pair of socks.”  

It’s been raining for weeks — a Virginia monsoon season. Our favorite rivers are as dirty, fast and unpredictable as our politics.  The world is abuzz as President Donald Trump meets with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, Dennis Rodman is back in the news and we lost Anthony Bourdain (who appeared to have it all) but true happiness.

My friends were excited that Journey and Def Leppard were playing live?

Was this a time warp or a bit of a mind slip?

A few years ago, I made a prophetic quip, “The Caps were the Philadelphia Eagles of the NHL.” It inspired a few laughs, but then the joke became a reality. The Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup…yes, they really did. The Eagles won the Super Bowl.

Serling’s ghost would surely smile at this twist of fate.

Even more joyous was the path the Caps took that ended with a bearded-Russian grinning from his bed while holding the Stanley Cup. His beautiful wife smiling adoringly at her man and his beloved hockey trophy.  

Pedro, a wise fly fishing guide in Belize once told me, “A fish is like a beautiful lady, the harder you chase after her the more she wants to escape.” Maybe the Caps were trying too hard all these years?

In the afterglow of the Stanley Cup, Alex Ovechkin looked like a hero forged in a fight. The Caps rose to overcome a silly Renaissance Faire-inspired Las Vegas produced Hobbit show. They had slain the mental dragons in Pittsburgh.

The Caps shattered whatever curse was plaguing Washington’s home teams and brought immense joy to a fanbase that had been compared to Charlie Brown missing Lucy’s football time-after-time. The puck finally bounced off the Caps’ crossbar.  

The White House requested Federal agencies grant employees in the Washington area 2 hours of administrative leave Tuesday for the celebratory parade – it usually takes a half-inch of snow.     

On social media, Caps fans wrote about gathering every secret weapon in their arsenal for each game — all precious charms were considered and deployed.  

You see I have a confession, I stole a pair of Capitals socks from my teenage son. I instinctively sensed their power — then I began to smell it. The socks had magic when turned slightly to the right — twisted — just like the fragile psyche of most Caps fans.

A miraculous series of games occured, one by one the victories unfolded, and the socks were left unwashed as Columbus, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and lastly Las Vegas fell.  I even forgot the magic socks for the first game against the Vegas Golden Knights. This tragic loss was chalked up to amazing chicken wings, overconfidence, cold cerveza and no Caps socks. A lesson was learned.

My social media responded with haunting cries for the socks to return — the Caps never lost again.

To the most dedicated Caps fans among my friends and family this Stanley Cup was pure redemption and it was aided by my socks.

At Friday’s annual CulpeperFest I had more people talk to me about my magical and odiferous Capitals’ socks than my columns, the Silver Club, Kid Central, sports or even fishing.   

“Imagination… its limits are only those of the mind itself.” ― Rod Serling

My socks will emerge next season when the NHL playoffs return.

In the end it took resilience, leadership, grit and a bit of puck luck from the Caps.

For me it took a pair of socks and perhaps a brief encounter with…The Twilight Zone.  


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