“When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way … ”
It’s about loyalty. Fidelity.
My good buddy Leon and I aren’t Jets, but we’re just as impassioned as any Jet you’ll ever meet. You know the Jets, the gang that rhythmically snaps its fingers and dances in vacant NYC parking structures in Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story”?
We’re Pirates. All the way. Aargh!
I’ve been an Orange Coast College Pirate since 1962. Leon’s been a Pirate for 45 years. “… From your first cigarette to your last dyin’ day.”
Neither of us smokes, but I’d say we’ve been Pirates “from our first port of call to our last plundered cay.”
I’m an OCC grad and served as an administrator for 37 years. Leon — as in Leon Skeie — was a popular OCC professor of physical education for 40-plus years. He was OCC’s head athletic trainer for decades.
We’ve been buds since 1973.
We’re now retired, but our ties to Pirateville run deep. We’ve been attending OCC football games together this fall and frankly it’s been a challenge.
In the 2018 season lidlifter we were in “Yo Ho Ho Heaven,” when OCC’s Pirates hosted the Ventura College Pirates. Yep, both coastal Southern California community colleges proudly display the same mascot. Ventura athletic teams have been the Pirates since 1925. OCC’s Pirates have been pirates since 1948.
As veteran seadogs, Leon and I couldn’t lose when we watched Pirates vs. Pirates in the 2018 season opener at OCC. The heavily favored Pirates of Ventura beat OCC’s Pirates by a narrow 24-20 margin, and Leon and I became convinced that good things for our Pirates lie just over the horizon.
Ventura’s Pirates were a preseason pick to be one of the state’s top teams. OCC’s Pirates were a team in transition. The 2018 season was to be a retooling year for the Coasters.
So, my friend Leon and I took the 24-20 loss as a positive.
Our Pirates managed to win just one of their next nine, however, and finished 1-9 for the year. Bummer.
Two weeks ago Leon and I went to see the Pirates mix it up with Riverside City College, a team that had lost only once this year. We went into that game with Jolly Roger unfurled and our timbers shivering.
To no avail. OCC was spanked, 58-0. Ouch!
But, remember: “When you’re Jet you’re a Jet all the way from your first cigarette to your last …” Yeah, I get it.
Being Pirates, Leon and I were there supporting our fellow buccaneers on the field. But a 58-0 rout is a body-slam. We remained in the stands long after the final gun … not saying much.
“58-0,” Leon mumbled, breaking our shared silence. “That was something.”
I didn’t know how to respond.
“Coulda been worse, I guess,” I finally managed.
An odd thought entered my addled brain.
“You know Leon, you and I have seen over 200 OCC football games each over the years, and I can’t recall seeing anything like this.” I ran out of words to finish my thought, so we two Pirates again sat in silence.
“When you’re a Jet you’re a Jet …” remember? OK, OK.
Slowly, we stood and sauntered toward the parking lot, each toting binoculars, a jacket and a stadium butt-cushion.
“You know,” Leon offered halfway to the car, “anyone can be a fair-weather fan, right? I mean, it’s easy to cheer for a team that wins all the time. What’s the big deal about that?”
“Yer right,” I agreed “Anyone can puff The Crimson Tide.”
“We support our Pirates through thick and thin, win or lose! Right, Jimmy?”
C’mon! “When you’re a Jet you’re a Jet …” Enough with the Lennie Bernstein references.
Leon and I were silent as he drove me home. He pulled into my driveway and idled his engine.
“What was that final score, again?” Leon asked. “If I get it wrong Cheryl will think we went somewhere else. Fifty-six wuz it?”
“Yeah. Fifty-eight … ta nothin’.”
“When you’re a Jet you’re a Jet all the way…”
Oh, stow it matey.
Jim Carnett, who lives in Costa Mesa, worked for Orange Coast College for 37 years.