Even the Fat Lady is having trouble with SuperSonic defense.
But then Bruce Volat's problems began long before being nearly tossed out of the Kingdome on his drum during Game 3 of the Bullets-Sonics NBA championship playoff. Rational friends had warned him against trying to fly cross country on a holiday weekend with a major airline still grounded. And with no notion of how to get into the game if he even arrived here."
But Saturday morning I just got up (in his house in Silver Spring, Md.) and decided I had to come out here," he said. "I just had to be part of this. I'm 36, and to tell you the truth, I've missed my calling in life. I wish I could be a professional hot dog. I love being up front."
So he gathered his costume - his former mother-in-law's dress, the sneakers he bought on sale at Peoples, socks from Bloomingdale's, the Hawaiian Jams bathing trunks, two wigs that belong to his roommate's former wife and the scarf and T-shirts that provide massive, if angular, breasts - and drove to Dulles.
A sort of long distance telephone full-court press had produced the promise of a ticket. He had found where the Bullets were staying, then phoned and asked for Abe Pollin or Jerry Sachs, both of whom were en route.
So he was connected with Kevin Grevey, which was nearly as good because Grevey is one Bullet who understands why a grown man would do such a thing on a whim.
At 10:20 p.m. Saturday, Volat started a trip to Seattle that included changing planes in Dallas and a four-hour layover in Los Angeles to make the final connection. Twelve hours later, with almost no sleep, Volat arrived at the Bullets' hotel as the team was leaving for the stadium.
Coach Dick Motta allowed him to ride the team bus.
Volat's fan fantasy was going as well as he could have hoped, until the Kingdome security guards realized he did not have the proper credentials to make a fool of himself near the court.
A Sonic mascot, several cheerleaders and assorted goofies were allowed on court, but on one whose affection for Washington included a D.C.
Sachs later explained that even Tiny the dachshund was barred from courtside here last year, so how could a 5-foot-9, 215-pound bearded Broom Hilda expect favored treatment?
Sachs also said the Bullets were equally partisan.
Volat retired to section 104, row 30. And banged his drum more slowly as the Bullets played as though in a trance and missed two of every three shots they tried. Most of the fans were agreeable, though he was pelted with peanuts and tin foil.
"They wrote in the paper that I beat the drum weakly," Volat said. "Well, that was at the end of the game - and eight of us (one of whom was Wes Unseld's wife Connie) against 35,920 would have been a helluva war."
Volat nearly missed much of thue on-court Bullet embarrassment. A reporter was minding Volat's money and regular clothes, but when Volat tried to go courtside for them during the game, a policeman threatened to keep him outside the Kingdome.
The reporter was summoned - and hardly minded missing Phil Chenier going O-for-four minutes. Volat spent much of today growling at Kingdome security and aglow at the growing national attention to his act.
"Nobody has a sense of humor for absurdity," he said.
Volat began that act as a way to get closer to the court in Capital Centre after buying tickets that had him just inside the inosphere for Game 1. He did not want to intrude on already staked territory, knowing Dennis Vala, of Bristow, Va., was the original Fat Lady.
"I was going to call myself the Phatt Ladie," he said. "Then I found out the Fat Lady had been in a car accident, been thrown through the window. So here I am. I've paid for everything on this trip. Plastic money is great. I even called and got my credit extended another $1,000."
Ecstatic that a story about him made the front page of a local paper and the story of the Bullets-Sonics game was inside, Volat rose from his table at the coffee shop, took that front page and placed it before a startled lady in the next booth.
"Read that," Volat said, "and then tell your friends you ate breakfast this morning with that guy."
The woman remained baffled.
"I believe in shock," Volat said.
Like all fans, Volat, a salesman of musical instruments, has his inconsistencies. He said he never boos during a game and forbids his sons, Jason and Lorne, to boo. But he was proud of standing as close as possible to a Sonic during the Game 1 and beating that drum as the poor fellow missed two free throws.
"And we won by two," he said, shamelessly.
When that irregularity was noted, Volat promised not to distract a Sonic again. Possibly.
"I've never been an athlete," he said, "just a marginal whatever, a guy who organized a touch football league and umped Little League baseball."
Still, a part of him craves notoriety.
"I loved it when I was on (a pregame show) with Sonny Jurgensen right after Pollin. "And the problem in Washington is that we got to coax the fans to get excited at games. There's too many people who are from different parts of the country, who've been - and sometimes still are - for other teams.
"You've got to be absurd to get ahead. I'm thinking now: 'What can I do the rest of my life to take advantage of this insanity?'" CAPTION: Picture, Bruce Volat has made the trip to Seattle and is cheering on the Bullets in his fashion. By Richard Darcey - The Washington Post