i can’t quite decide whether it’s for genuinely selfless reasons of wanting to create community or a more selfish desire to control and be at the center of the community that i do some of the things that i do.
hoching bowl iv, at least for my small circle of friends from home (edison, nj), came with great anticipation and high expectations, and it went by in a hurry, with some lasting memories and an aftertaste of sadness as to the temporary, transient nature of “community” and what it means to really get together with the people you know.
preparations for the event was more grueling than the game itself. with the help of hoching event regulars andy, warren, head, and wally, the game – our annual Thanksgiving tackle football game between an All-Asian “Team Hoching” and a miscellaneous mixture of personnel on “Team Others” – was set up as well as the “postgame party” at andy’s house. assuming that the sentiments of being seniors in college would make people more invested in coming to our postgame party and having a good time, andy and i embarked on an ambitious road to stock the party – a combination of drinking and eating – with very expensive foods (sushi platters, chicken marsala) and alcohol (cocktail drinks, bottled beer, wines). an exciting part of the process was imagining the grateful and happy response of the guests who would enjoy our exquisite planning while having a memorable time. as is usually the norm in event-type situations of this sort, anticipation outperformed the actual outcome.
the game itself was a success in that it was a competitive and highlight-ridden contest. Team Hoching, thanks in part to darkness, eked out a 9 touchdown to 8 touchdown victory, although some may point to the flaw of the scoring which made 2-point conversions absolutely useless. i must take blame for the lack of foresight in that department, but i’m glad it was quickly addressed and not a sticking point in the outcome. it was great to see some of the very original participants of hoching bowl complete their evolution from passive, nonexistent players to very active and star-quality contributors. head, shedding his frisbee timidity, created key turnovers and put on some big hits on the opposing qb. andy also showed that he was unafraid as he made a saving tackle of doc healey in open field. it was great to see the much-ridiculed arvind on Team Others overcoming some setbacks earlier in the game to make some key catches later on. and as for myself, a woeful effort that reminded me how tough it is to play quarterback – my turnovers and poor decision-making almost cost our team the game, but thankfully, the spectacular efforts of some others – the defensive play of reggie and rich park, the strong line presence of rondeep and neeraj, and the sight of an injured warren, one of hoching bowl’s most valuable enthusiasts – paved the way for a fitting victory to this 4-year series. perhaps i am glorifying it all too much, but i am pretty confident that our participants, for the 4 hours we played on the field at John Adams Middle School, would agree that the experience of the game was anything but forgettable.
having been a part of events of varying scales in all sorts of situations – KSA, Columbia College alumni reunions, residential programs, etc. – i’ve noticed that all the planning and preparation proves futile if attendance is lacking. while the hoching bowl postgame party initially attracted the regulars, key absences and early departures created an immediate void that, in my mind, “killed” the party within a few hours. in previous years, after the food and alcohol had been laid out, it was customary of people to stay and watch tv, play games, and socialize until it was late. this year, for a multitude of reasons, the party was unable to hold people for long and only a handful of us remained. what was distressing for me and andy was the amount of food and alcohol that remained untouched. it was thought, work, and preparation that failed to fulfill its potential. of course, we shook it off and drank what we could to forget. but more importantly, the party was a lesson on the unpredictable nature of such events and the caution with which expectations should be managed.
as i limped (bruised knee from game) with jeff from andy’s house after andy had passed out on his bed, i felt a bit of frustration and a tinge of sadness in being unable to host a party for longer than the duration of food ingestion. what more was the party than a greet-and-eat if everyone left after the meal? was it any better than a restaurant? why did people have so many different places to go and so many things to do when all this work was put in for their benefit? such short-fuse thoughts formed in my head, but i knew it wasn’t anybody’s fault. once again, i realized that the disappointment stemmed more from the pressures of the initial expectation, the perilous habit of comparing it to “how good it was last time,” and the supercharged optimism of my grand vision of myself as a “provider” for my friends. these thoughts superimposed with observations of full trays of penne vodka and chicken marsala left over and alcohol bottles barely emptied brought about a sense of self-pity. com’on peter, how selfish indeed!
i tell myself in as philosophical a tone: such experiences are just a part of living. pretentious as such a statement may be, i say such things with confidence in my rationality. i know that i tend to overanalyze and hyperbolize, so it is worth noting that as the days pass and the memories become more and more faded, the fonder moments will prevail, and perhaps a year or two from now, the final hoching bowl will be part of the nostalgic canon of my personal being. and for those who can share such views with me, it will be that much of an added bonus.