Kevin Love hated the cold weather. Snow was the worst. The bitter Minnesota wintry air aggravated his still-young joints. He wanted to be back out on the west coast. He’d chosen to go to UCLA because of the weather, the promise of televised games, and national exposure. Now he was living the prime years of his life as a wolf, literally, he was now a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He’d never seen one, probably couldn’t identify one if it came through the woods and into his driveway anyway. He wanted to ask his teammates what it was specifically but all they told him was that it was a wolf.
The team, it seemed, was content with mediocrity. When he first visited UCLA he noticed all of the championship banners hanging down from the rafters. The blue and yellow flags looked like remnants from a New Year’s party. But here, in the middle of nowhere, he had no history to embrace. He felt alone.
The only thing worse than putting up huge numbers and not getting any national attention because his team was losing the majority of their games were the off days. Boredom set in quickly. The state was made for outdoor people, hunters, and fisherman, but he liked beach volleyball and clubs. He couldn’t watch TV either. All of the local sports stations, when they weren’t fawning over homegrown star Joe Mauer of the Twins, were ridiculing him for being a good player on a bad team. They made it seem as if it were his fault that his team was losing. They’d say that he wasn’t a leader, he couldn’t will his team to victory, they questioned his toughness.
By his third year, not wanting to demand a trade and alienate the locals further, he bought a large map of the state and began counting each and every one of Minnesota’s lakes. He was tired of seeing the slogan “Land of 10,000 Lakes” everywhere he went. On license plates, travel brochures, and commercials, they flooded the state with their proclamations of water.
On his off days, he’d take his large mug of coffee and box of Ring Dings and go to his man cave in the basement and spread out the map on the coffee table. His dish had been acting up, every time there was a large snowstorm, which seemed to be a few times a week during the season, he would lose signal and be forced to call for assistance. Of course, the men working on the dish hookup would always hang around a little while longer after they were done, not wanting to ask for an autograph or picture outright. It was awkward, he’d rather just hand them a tip and close the door, keep them on the proper side of the invisible boundary line between famous athlete and regular person.
He reached 300 by the All-Star break in February. When he came home from the break he found his dish not working again. He got drunk, by himself that night, and took his bow and arrow, given to him for free by the local sports store, outside. It was still snowing and relatively dark, but the metallic dish could be seen reflecting off of his outdoor lights he’d installed to keep the animals off of his property.
It took two arrows to make contact with the dish, and a third to finally knock it from its place. He stumbled back inside content with the job he’d done, feeling, for the first time, that he was a true Minnesotan. As he looked for lake number 301 he could hear the dish bang up against the roof with every gust of wind.
He reached number 310, way up in the northeast part of the state before realizing that he had been recounting several lakes. His number, his job, had been compromised. He’d have to go back to the store and buy a new map, swallow his pride and look like an idiot for buying a second map (how many does one person need?) in front of the high school cashier who would undoubtedly remember him. Maybe the great lakes project should be shelved, he thought to himself as he rolled into bed that night. Fishing season was coming up soon, if nothing else he could get away from everything he hated on land and lose himself in the slight rocking of waves on lake number 103, nearest his house.
Patrick Trotti is a freelance writer and editor. He lives in Rochester, New York.