Sunday, June 2, 2013


Sometimes, 'though very infrequently, readers will lightly scoff at a post on the ground that it's too
'Hollywood-ish", intentionally manufactured to attract readers. Things like that just don't happen, they claim.

I do not publish fiction.
Never have.
Never will.

It's just that I have been a part of emotionally satisfying moments which, because of their very nature, are impossible to forget and are delicious to tell.
This is one such romantic moment.

I was a Junior at Boston Latin School, which enjoyed the reputation of "best public high school in the country" and "a prep school for Harvard". Still does. I, never destined for academic excellence in the purist sense, really dug it.

The most favored sport was basketball. On my greatest day, I was an average player with physical limitations far exceeding my reservoir of talent. But, like so many others of similar ilk, I loved the game and could never play it too much.

In my Freshman and Sophomore years, I was on the Junior Varsity, an accomplishment recognized but not rewarded with a "letter", a prized "L" which was sown onto the school's purple and white coat sweater. That only came with "making the varsity", which was everyone's goal and for which I tried out in my Junior year.

Every day, after practice, we would run to the bulletin board and await the posting of those who had made "the cut" and were, therefore, still alive. The pressure was enormously palpable.

The number of viable candidates would dwindle after each day's scrimmages which were tests to constantly separate the wheat from the chaff. And finally, there was just one practice left, the survivors of which would make the Varsity.

On this particular day, Coach had arranged a scrimmage with Roxbury Memorial High School for a game that would determine who made the team. I was still on that list, right at the bottom, hanging on by the skin of my teeth. The make-or-break game began.

As usual, I was not on the starting team and would be put into the game in its final minutes. And inevitably, that moment arrived.

I, frankly, didn't know what I was doing (per usual) and was playing in my patented limited ability zone, when I found myself at our foul line with my back to our basket. If you analyze that, for a moment, you will quickly conclude that being in that position made no basketball sense whatsoever and just about rendered me more useless than usual. And then, a teammate passed me the ball.

My mind was blank. I entertained neither plan nor purpose. I just stood there, ball in hand, with my back facing our basket and my teammates running wildly around me, screaming for the ball. I was in some never-before-diagnosed state of shock which could very easily have been mistaken for a never-before-recognized confident  look of a plan.

And then I did something which had no reason then and could never be rationally explained, to this day and beyond. I will never know what made me do it. It will forever lack all rhyme or reason.

I, with feigned great poise and assurance, threw the ball over my head. I had no target in mind or even the slightest degree of intent. I just did it--without any premeditation whatsoever. The ultimate blind pass.

There was a silencing gasp heard 'round the gymnasium as the onlookers dealt with the impact of having witnessed an act of insanity.

I turned around to see a teammate receive my pass, in perfect stride, and put in the sweetest lay-up of all time. I then saw the opposition coach glance over at our's with a look of amazement, raised eyebrows and all. Our coach, A cool dude if ever there was one, shrugged and shot back a look that said, "does it all the time".

I made the final cut and played Varsity ball for my last two years of High School.

Only the Gods can probably explain why I did what I did.

As for me, I just filed it under "Fate--Don't--Question."

The biggest reward is reliving it from time to time, as one is prone to do in one's look-back senior years.

Truth be told, I got a million of 'em.

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