(Published in the January 2011 issue)
January is the month of renewal, of fresh beginnings, of rebirth. Yet, for me at least, the idea of rebirth can never be contemplated without thinking of my original birth. It’s a strange tale, but, according to those who know me best, it explains a lot.
I’d like to share it with you.
My mother, San Francisco Bay Bomber roller derby queen Hallie Randolph, was midway through a flight from San Francisco to Denver, in August 1955, for a game versus the Colorado Sea Munchers, when she felt her belly rumble.
As was her way, she enlisted a teammate to whip her down the aisle, knocking down three passengers ahead of her in line to the lavatory. Once she squeezed into the lavatory and upon the throne, the volume of the payload surprised her, but she chalked it up to her voracious appetite. Little did she know, what hurtled from that Douglas DC-7 was not only the first and only blue-ice baby on record, but the first to survive the tumble.
For her part, Hallie gave her ensuing trauma little concern, having survived much worse on the banked oval at Kezar Stadium, home of the Bay Bombers. That she soon began lactating was a bit off-putting at first, but it soon became a favored parlor trick at team parties.
As told by my adoptive godmothers, the chunk of blue ice (me) crashed through the hull of a rowboat in the middle of Trout Lake, Colorado. The single occupant, one Chester Phelps, was thrown from the watercraft. Summoning a courage he didn’t know he possessed, Mr. Phelps wailed so plaintively that a rescue team from nearby Telluride beckoned. His boat having sunk, a shivering Phelps was found clinging to the chunk of blue ice (me), which had popped to the surface after initial impact.
The rescuers were so curious about the chunk of blue ice (me), they hoisted it (me) into the rescue boat before they hoisted Phelps, who soon began to sink. The rescuers snagged him with a grappling hook, which would leave him with a nine-inch scar on his inner left thigh.
After dropping Phelps off at a local bait and tackle shop to get stitched up, the rescuers took the chunk of blue ice (me) to a nearby saloon for examination, but not before using it (me) to chill a bucket of Coors. After a few hours and several beers, the ice had melted and a baby wailed. To my rescuers' astonishment and ever-lasting epiphanies, they believed a beer-baptized messiah had fallen from heaven.
Overwhelmed by the responsibility, my drunken rescuers swaddled me in a burlap potato sack and dumped the bundle on the doorstep of the Midnight Ranch, a combination Spanish mission/whore-house on the outskirts of town. It must have been that place that inspired my life-long devotions to Padres and disinfectant.
As you can imagine, despite the initial trauma, I proceeded to enjoy a typically idyllic American upbringing. Likely due to that burlap swaddling, I never lost a potato sack race during Telluride’s summer festivals, plus I won 11 diving competitions at Trout Lake over the years (I hope this doesn’t sound like bragging).
Having now shared this deeply personal tale, I hereby open the bidding war for the movie rights to my life story. (I’m thinking it’s a perfect vehicle for Brad Pitt, spinning off his wide acclaim in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, not to mention his striking resemblance to what I wish I looked like.)
The journey includes hardships (bullies who called me sh!t baby) and triumphs (a tearful reunion with my birth-mother at a traveling carnival, where she was making ends meet as a bearded-lady/alligator wrestler).
The most amazing thing about this story? My mom played the entire game the night of my birth, as her Bay Bombers totally face-planted the Sea Munchers, 169-54.Cookie “Chainsaw" Randolph provides a well-thawed-out perspective, weekday mornings with Dave, Shelly & Chainsaw on