MY QUEST FOR BILL RAFTERY’S “ONIONS”

I should clarify that Bill Raftery does not have onions. Well, he does, but not real ones. Actually he does have real onions, I think. How am I doing with the clarification?

Let me try it this way: Bill Raftery is definitely known for onions. But he’s not the onion version of Orville Reddenbacher. Nor is he some Onion King like Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago. And also unlike Abe, he’s never been famously impersonated by Ferris Bueller.

But he has been impersonated by pretty much every single college basketball fan. You see, after playing for La Salle, he coached at Seton Hall which is of no relevance at all. He, however, went on to become CBS’ number one college basketball color commentator. That was due in large part to his multiple memorable and hilarious catch phrases such as “Get those puppies organized!” and “A little lingerie on the deck.”

The man’s more quotable than the movie “Airplane.”

Surely you can’t be serious?

I am serious, and please don’t call me Shirley.

It should be mentioned that he is beloved by America’s youth. It should also be mentioned that he’s pushing 77 years old. With that combination of popularity and age, he might consider a new catch phrase: “I’m running for President.”

Bill Raftery is truly a cross between Bernie Sanders and another aged star the kids adore – Betty White. Come to think of it, he also sort of looks like a cross between Bernie Sanders and Betty White.

So what the hell does this have to do with onions? Nothing. But it has a lot to do with “Onions!” – yet another Raftery-ism. And by “Onions!” he’s referring to a part of the male anatomy, well, two idential parts that are, shall we say private and . . . Oh hell, he means testicles. Especially the ones needed to make a pressure packed shot, you know, large ones.

This requires further immediate clarification. I am not on a quest for Bill Raftery’s “Onions.”

But StreakerSports.com sells a line Bill Raftery shirts including his “Onions!” t-shirt that I do very much want. Again, just to be clear, I have no desire for a shirt depicting Bill Raftery’s testicles. No offense, Bill. I do want the one on Streaker Sports that has a basketball hoop and onions – the non-testicle vegetable style. 

Unfortunately, I did not make this sufficiently clear to my wife. She got me one that has nothing on it other than the word onions. Seriously, I own a shirt emblazoned with O-N-I-O-N-S. Apparently she thought I’d like to be a walking billboard for Bird’s Eye. I mean, every time I wear the thing I feel like I should get a commission from the Jolly Green Giant.

This does not happen when I wear my Bill Raftery’s “Send It In Jerome” t-shirt. This, of course, is his quote of a call he made after a slam by Jerome Lane – in 1988. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone with “of course.”

But what makes the shirt special are the rare occasions when a person recognizes it. Every once in a while someone will see my shirt, point, and chuckle. I’ll then nod, and explain to my wife that this guy’s reaction had nothing to do with the remnants of cheese doodles on my face.

“You should introduce yourself to him. You could become friends.”

I don’t want a friend; I want a t-shirt. He could have kids and then I’ll have to go to birthday parties, and graduations, and First Communions, and Bar Mitzvahs and, all right probably not both . . . And he could get divorced and I’ll have to help him move and talk about feelings, and be his wingman and . . . No! No! No! He and I currently have the perfect relationship – the three second head nod bond.

And I got to walk away with an enjoyable air of coolness. You know, that same coolness I had when I was the fist kid in school with a Han Solo action figure. Yeah, I might need a better understanding of cool.

My point is this great experience I get from my “Send It In Jerome” shirt never ever happens when I wear my shirt that just has the word onions on it. Heck, my wife might as well have bought me a shirt that says P-O-T-A-T-O-E-S!

And as opposed to Bill Raftery’s t-shirts, the t-shirt my wife got is way too thick and heavy. Then again, there is something to be said for a t-shirt that is, oh how should I say it, absorbent. So you might want to avoid the color grey if you are one who gets, you know, a bit drippy.

I must give my wife credit for getting me a blue colored Bill Raftery’s “With A Kiss” shirt. It has lips on a backboard signifying where a ball “kisses” before going in. There only two problems with it:

(1) It’s not the Bill Raftery’s “Onions!” shirt, and

(2) Every time my wife sees it she exclaims “With a kiss” and attempts to smooch my cheek. Yet she refuses to say, “Send it in Jerome”, during moments of intimacy.

But then I got mustard on it and a hole in the arm pit – which made it even better.

My wife says it’s the most disgusting thing she’s ever seen, but she knows that’s not true. She’s seen me try to eat spaghetti.

This all begs the question: Why don’t I just go to StreakerSports.com and buy the Bill Raftery’s “Onions!” shirt myself? Because married guys don’t buy things for themselves. So we try to get our wives to buy the stuff for us. It does come with some risks though. Like getting a shirt that just says onions.

Then there’s the little issue that my wife does not want to be told what gifts to get.

She says it wipes out the surprise. Whereas I say it wipes out the disappointment.

Actually, I don’t say that, out loud. Despite years of marriage I have not yet learned how to tell my wife that a gift stinks. But I learned that the wrong way is saying, “This gift stinks.”

My wife, however, is open to hints. Which means she’s fine with me being possibly happy, not definitely happy.

As for my hinting plan, I decided that before every meal I’d make multiple requests of “More Onions.” There is some irony here – I hate the taste of onions.

Again, just to be clear . . .

Yet I do very much enjoy onion rings. Well, I like the ring, not the onion. But it’s kind of awkward placing an order of: “onion rings, hold the onions.”

I still needed to be sure she got the hint. So I enlisted the services of my youngest daughter. She agreed to say “Onions!” at dinner every time I successfully put food in my mouth. Successfully? Well, sometimes I miss.

Turns out this plan had a fault as well. After about the ninth time her little girl yelled “Onions!”, my wife turned to me and asked, “Do you want to explain to her what that means?” No, no I do not.

But apparently this was going to be the first time that a t-shirt quest led to a birds and bees discussion. Then my daughter said, “I know what it means.” Oh dear God. “It’s when you hit a shot that’s so good it makes the other person cry.” I looked at my wife who was clearly reveling in my discomfort.

But like a good parent, I stepped up and said, “Exactly.”

Shortly thereafter, Christmas arrived. I had less than high expectations given my arguably sub-par anatomy lesson. Once all the gifts had seemingly been opened my wife said, “Hey what’s that over there behind the desk against the wall?” And there sat a box just big enough for a t-shirt. I felt like Ralphie when he got his Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun. As I opened it up, my wife smiled and said, “Onions!” She then added, “I hope you like the color. I noticed you didn’t have any in grey.” Perfect.

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