Southey Miles Award

Southey Miles would be horrified. Since 1989, no one has been able to capture the celebrated trophy he so championed that it was posthumously given his name shortly after his untimely death in 1973. To this day, Southey remains the unchallenged of all recipients.

His dominance inconspicuously began at the BID’s finals match in 1960. He left that afternoon match between the third and fourth games where he was serving as the referee. Under considerable stress, a consequence of an unfortunate string of very bad calls and an inability to remember the players much less the score, Southey told the left wall judge that he was going to take the time between games to retrieve a martini, his favorite libation. This he declared, as he headed up the gallery steps, would steady him for the play to come. No one saw him again for five days. When questioned as to his whereabouts, Southey swore that he has never left the building.

In 1963 he won again. No one is certain whether it was for attempting to do a head stand on a full plate of food at the Saturday night dinner or for mistaking the foyer palm planter for a urinal that ultimately secured his victory. “Either way”, said Southey, “I’m just as honored.”

Try as he might the trophy eluded him over the next four years. Southey passed out, played a match in the nude, was captured by Martians, broke plates, fell down the steps and kicked off the 1965 National Tournament, which replaced the BIDs’ that year, by singing the National Anthem with a mouth full of Melba Toast. All, to no avail, the competition for the trophy during the years 64, 65, 66 and 67 was too strong.

But in 1968, Southey returned with a vengeance. Undergoing months of training on an undisclosed horse farm in the Green Spring Valley, Southey developed a bodily sound patterned after the gastrointestinal eruptions of copulating stallions. He unleashed it at the 1968 Saturday night dinner dance and drove a considerable number of the unsuspecting screaming from the premises while covering their eyes with damp napkins in a futile attempt to prevent effluvium burns so severe that, in some cases, the result was temporary blindness. One witness recalled that the only warning was a shrill guttural reverberation so unnerving that it made the band stop playing.

As for Southey, he didn’t remember anything. The explosion sent him careening across the buffet table and into the giant cross racquet ice sculpture. Rendered unconsciousness, he was lost in the ensuing bedlam. Pinpointed early the next morning by the Tournament Chairman, Southey was whipping up a Bloody Mary in the service bar and having one devil of a time locating the Tabasco sauce.

It is rumored that on that day in 1973 his three lunch game comrades gathered at Southey’s bedside unaware of the impending end. Southey, unfortunately, was in a coma, but he could at least join them, if only by his physical presence, in their pre-match triple martini toast – extra dry – two olives.

As Big Dick, Southey’s left wall partner, began to jiggle the martini shaker, Southey’s eyes miraculously popped open. The three visitors froze, paralyzed in their collective amazement. Southey smiled and weakly raised his hand gesturing to Big Dick to come closer. As Dick leaned down over Southey he inadvertently spilled some of the shaker’s content on his old partner’s monogrammed pink pajamas. Southey whispered that he usually preferred a glass. His eyes sparkled and a disconcerted Dick instinctively knew by inference that his every jocund companion of many a glad time was telling him – it’s OK.

Southey clenched Dick’s right shoulder with the frail fingers of his left hand and mustering all remaining strength, the great veteran of many a not so well played match, pulled himself erect. “My friends”. His faint voice grew momentarily stronger. “My dear friends; when I’m gone, make them work to earn the trophy; promise – you’ll make them work; make them work”. With that, he collapsed back onto the pillow. A legend was gone; only the irrepressible smile remained.

Big Dick gently closed his partner’s eyes and in a final gesture of admiration placed a fresh gin soaked olive on each eyelid. There and then, the remaining three decided that the great trophy Southey had pursued like the Holy Grail should rightfully bear his name. They raised their glasses in tribute: “Now”, said Big Dick, “he belongs to the ages”.