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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Old Philospher

So we were lying on our backs on the grass in the park next to our
hamburger wrappers, my 11-year-old son and I, watching the clouds
loiter overhead, when he asked me, "Dad, why are we here?"

And this is what I said.

"I've thought a lot about it, son, and I don't think it's all that
complicated. I think maybe we're here just to teach a kid how to
bunt, turn two and eat sunflower seeds without using his hands."

"We're here to pound the steering wheel and scream as we listen to
the game on the radio, 20 minutes after we pulled into the garage.
We're here to look all over, give up and then find the ball in the

"We're here to watch, at least once, as the pocket collapses around
Drew Brees, and it's fourth-and-never. Or as the count goes to 3 and
1 on Tony Gwynn, Jr., with bases loaded, and the pitcher begins wishing
he'd gone on to med school. Or as a little hole you couldn't get a
skateboard through suddenly opens in front of Jeff Gordon with a lap
to go."

"We're here to wear our favorite sweat-soaked Boston Red Sox cap,
torn Slippery Rock sweatshirt and the Converses we lettered in, on a
Saturday morning with nowhere we have to go and no one special we
have to be."

"We're here to rake on a jack-high nothin' hand and have nobody know
it but us. Or get in at least one really good brawl, get a nice
shiner and end up throwing an arm around the guy who gave it to us."

"We're here to shoot a six-point elk and finally get the f-stop
right, or to tie the perfect fly, make the perfect cast, catch
absolutely nothing and still call it a perfect morning."

"We're here to nail a yield sign with an apple core from half a block
away. We're here to make our dog bite on the same lame fake throw for
the gazillionth time. We're here to win the stuffed bear or go broke

"I don't think the meaning of life is gnashing our bicuspids over
what comes after death but tasting all the tiny moments that come
before it. We're here to be the coach when Wendell, the one whose
glasses always fog up, finally makes the only perfect backdoor pass
all season. We're here to be there when our kid has three goals and
an assist. And especially when he doesn't."

"We're here to see the Great One setting up behind the net, tying
some poor goaltender's neck into a Windsor knot. We're here to watch
the Rocket peer in for the sign, two out, bases loaded, bottom of the
career. We're here to witness Tiger's lining up the 22-foot double
breaker to win and not need his autograph afterward to prove it."

"We're here to be able to do a one-and-a-half for our grandkids. Or
to stand at the top of our favorite double-black on a double-blue
morning and overhear those five wonderful words: 'Highway's closed.
Too much snow.'"

"We're here to get the Frisbee to do things that would have caused
medieval clergymen to burn us at the stake."

"I don't think we're here to make SportsCenter. The really good stuff
never does. Like leaving Wrigley at 4:15 on a perfect summer
afternoon and walking straight into Murphy's with half of section
503. Or finding ourselves with a free afternoon, a little red 327
fuel-injected 1962 Corvette convertible and an unopened map of
Vermont's backroads."

"We're here to get the triple-Dagwood sandwich made and the football
kicked off at the very second your sister begins tying up the phone
until Tuesday."

"None of us are going to find ourselves on our deathbeds
saying, 'Dang, I wish I'd spent more time on the Hibbings account.'
We're going to say, 'That scar? I got that scar stealing a home run
from Consolidated Plumbers!"

"See, grown-ups spend so much time doggedly slaving toward the better
car, the perfect house, the big day that will finally make them happy
when happy just walked by wearing a bicycle helmet two sizes too big
for him. We're not here to find a way to heaven. The way is heaven.
Does that answer your question, son?"

And he said, "Not really, Dad."

And I said, "No?"

And he said, "No, what I meant is, why are we here when
Mom said to pick her up 40 minutes ago?"

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