The Most Athletic Hargrave

If I were to describe two adults arguing over who was the most athletic, what would you picture?  A couple of high school heroes, college zeros, duking it out?  Or maybe two balding men with sports cars fresh off a mid-life crisis?  How about a 6’1”, broad shouldered, well-built 27 year old male, and a petite 31 year old female who stands at 5’5” with little discernable upper body strength? 

That would be my brother, Pat and me the day before the 4th of July (otherwise known as July 3rd). 

We were at a table in Guava Beach, an overgrown college bar in Pacific Beach, an overgrown college town, surrounded by a group of his friends, his fiancé, my friend Caroline, and three half-empty pitchers of “Beaver,” a slightly classed-up version of frat house jungle juice. 

This is not a situation in which I would normally put myself—I hate PB and the memories from my early 20’s it brings forth.  The crowded bars, the incessant day drinking, the guys with tats and tank tops that read “I’m with Stoopid.”  Living here is a rite of passage for many a San Diegan and a rite I had surpassed, but since I’m moving in a few weeks, I thought I’d spend a little quality time with my brother.   

He had just finished complaining that his partner for beach volleyball the previous weekend was 50 years old, so I offered to play with him when his buddies weren’t available.  He was almost insulted at the suggestion.  The dismissive look on his face, the incredulous chortle, the wave of the hand—it was too much.  So I went for the jugular.


“I said, ‘I’m more athletic than you are.’” 

Pat sat stunned and speechless for almost a solid minute.  We are Hargraves; no one questions our athleticism.  We each played at least three sports growing up and continue to excel in the general area of fitness; when described, “athletic” is one of the three adjectives used.

“There is no way you are more athletic than I am.”

“Pat, I’ve run six marathons, you can’t even run three miles.”

“Pat, I’m going to go with Lauren on this one.  I think she’s more athletic,” offered Pat’s friend Zach who I’ve known since t-ball.

My brother’s anger and frustration was starting to bubble from the pit of his stomach but I refused to back down.  I couldn’t; it’s not in my DNA.  There are two things from which Hargaves do not retreat: arguments and athletics.  We are always right and place a high priority on fitness and health, so this was not just a casual conversation; this was a debate of tribal hierarchy.  Unfortunately, no one else at Guava Beach understood nor cared about the gravity of the situation. 

“Wait a second.  Hold on.  So running’s our only metric?”  My brother said loud enough to draw the attention of the table to our left. 

 “It’s not the only metric, but cardio fitness has a lot to do with athleticism.  Even growing up, you were not the most athletic of the three of us.” 

This is actually true—if  you were to ask my dad, who was “Mr. Involved” in all of my brothers’ sports, Conner had the most natural athletic ability. 

“I-I am the most athletic person in the family!”  Now the table to our right was involved.

“No you’re not.  Conner’s probably the most athletic person in the family.”  I tried not to smirk as I said this, but I couldn’t help it as I watched the rage envelop his face.

“WHAT?!”  The vein in his forehead was starting to pop.  “There is NO WAY I’m the least athletic person in our family!  Why?  Why would you even say that?  How are you defining athletic?”

And now the entire region of the bar was involved in determining who was more athletic: me or him.  There was analysis of childhood hobbies- mine, ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop until Junior High, track, softball and field hockey after that.  Pat played soccer, baseball and football. 

Then our skill level at each sport was ranked and analyzed.  Upon coming to the conclusion that our activities were too different to crown a winner, more Beavers were ordered and they moved on to our adult activities, where I believe I’m the uncontested winner—my six marathons to his weight lifting and pick-up games of beach volleyball. 

Not once did anyone say, “Who cares?”

My friend Caroline sat stunned as I egged my brother on and he got progressively madder with each sentence.  His fiancé tried to break it up by saying she was now the most athletic of the family (she’s a yoga instructor), but there was no giving up, there was no backing down.  Pat and I were committed to the fact that one of us was “The Most Athletic Hargrave,” and the other was just a sorry second. 

It was agreed that we needed an athletic competition to know who would be crowned “The Most Athletic Hargrave,” so, again, more Beavers were ordered.  For the uninitiated, a “Beaver” is a pitcher filled ¾ of the way with Long Island Ice Tea, a couple of beers, and then topped off with Peach Schnapps and Grenadine.  If that makes you want to vomit, congratulations, you are no longer in college.

Somewhere around the sixth Beaver pitcher, the debate took a turn for the ridiculous and the word, “athletic,” was inserted into almost every comment.

“Hey, Brett, can you pass a napkin?”

“Why sure, I am the most athletic person here.”

Zach announced that he was going to solve this debate once and for all by setting up an obstacle course with the basketball, baseball bat, tennis racket and other gym items in the trunk of his car.  Pat and I looked at each other with apprehension.  We had both been sucking down the liquid hangovers as they appeared on the table and despite our honed athletic skills, I’m pretty sure neither one of us could have seen a baseball coming toward us, let alone hit it.

We had a stare off.  One of us was going to have to forfeit or we’d both go down, but who would it be?  Who would relinquish their claim as the “Most Athletic Hargrave”?  Luckily, a nearby tatted 20-something wearing an ironic tank top made it unnecessary.

“Hi, you’re really fit.  What’s your name?”

The record stopped and we all turned to see Frodo Baggin’s second cousin hitting on my brother’s fiancé.  Apparently, that whole “looking for the ring” thing was lost on him. 

“That’s it!  We have a winner!  Kylie’s the most athletic person here!”  My brother’s friend was clearly tired of the pointless debate, so we all cheered and laughed and then turned to stare at the midget that was still watching us with confusion.

“Wha-what’s going on?”

“You just entered a debate about who is more athletic, me or him.  What do you think?”  I watched with enjoyment as he looked at me and then at Pat, deciding if this field of landmines was worth entering.  Then he looked at Kylie for help.

“Oh no dude, I wouldn’t.  She’s his fiancé.”  I motioned to Pat who had focused all the testosterone of his rage on this poor guy’s forehead.

“Um…Oh…umm, sorry.  Ok.  I’m gonna go…”  His voice was barely audible as he scooted back to his table, his tail between his legs.

Crisis averted, our table ordered another unnecessary Beaver to celebrate, and Pat and I went back to believing that we were, “The Most Athletic Hargrave”.  Which came in handy as we stumbled our way home later that night.

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