Jeff Pearlman

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Held hostage at Hershey Park

Screen Shot 2018-06-23 at 12.05.29 PM

The “Awesome! I’m a Hershey Bar!” child visits Jeffpearlman.com to contribute a guest post …

It sounded like an amazing opportunity at the time.

It was a July morning four years ago. My mommy and daddy said, “Get out of your cage—we’re going to Hershey Park.”

I was excited, in that my lifetime of captivity and servitude had been less than joyful. Granted, “Mom and Dad” (I suspect they’re not my real parents) would throw daily scraps of meat and gerbil skin into my 4’x7′ containment area. And occasionally they’d wipe away the pee puddles. And once every six weeks they’d wash my moo moo. They called me “Gerald” until my name was changed to “Obo.” Then “Nathaniel Elijah.” In truth, I think my first name is Steven.

Wait. Where was I?

Oh—Hershey Park. They said we were going, and I thought my long nightmare was about to end. Chocolate! Rides! Happy times! Freedom! So Dad loaded my cage into the trailer of the family truck, and off we went, deep into the night. I gnawed on my elbow for nourishment, and sucked on the bone remnants of yesterday’s gerbil. Then, suddenly, the doors opened and everything went bright light. Mom shoved the cattle prod into my cage and said, “Your name is Maurice now!”

“Yes, Mommy. I love you,” I replied.

(God, what I wouldn’t give to see her flesh roasting on Satan’s hottest pit)

“Good Maurice,” she said. “Now repeat after me …”

OK.

“Say, ‘Awesome! I’m a Hershey bahr!'”

I tried, but she wasn’t displeased.

CATTLE PROD! CATTLE PROD! CATTLE PROD!

“Do it again!” she yelled. “With feeling!”

“Amazing!” I said, “I’m a …”

CATTLE PROD! CATTLE PROD! CATTLE PROD!

“Incredible! I said. “I’m a …”

CATTLE PROD! CATTLE PROD! CATTLE PROD!

“It’s awesome!” she screamed. “Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! Dumb Maurice! Dumb!”

“Awesome!” I said. “I’m a …”

“WITH FEELING!!!” she screamed

CATTLE PROD! CATTLE PROD! CATTLE PROD!

“Awesome!” I said. “I’m a Hershey bahr!”

Tears streamed down my face.

Mommy smiled.

“Mommy loves you, Baby Maurice,” she cooed. “Mommy loves you.”

Moments later, I found myself against a wall, lined up with a dozen other children. They called out, “Little Murray”—and Mommy nudged me. “You’re name is Murray,” she whispered. “You’re an adorable little 6-year-old who lives in a big house and loves his mommy and daddy very much. Got it?”

“But,” I said, “I’m 11. And you keep me in a ca—”

CATTLE PROD! CATTLE PROD! CATTLE PROD!

“I love you, Mommy,” I said. “And Daddy, too.”

I delivered my lines like a seasoned pro. Within the hour I was standing before a pimply kid named Todd. He was holding an iPhone. Next to me was a giant chocolate bar character. The man inside smelled like ashtray and fermented fart. At one point he asked me for the name of a reliable coke dealer.

“OK, Todd yelled, “action!”

“Awesome!” I said. “I’m a Hershey bahr!”

“Perfect!” Todd yelled. He then handed Mommy a check for $64.56.

We returned to the truck.

And my cage.

I didn’t even get a chocolate bahr.

Save me

Save me

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life