She thrusts a mostly intact prescription order in my face.
Her: Will it take very long to fill this prescription?
Me: That’s one of life’s imponderables, isn’t it? Speaking strictly in evolutionary terms, filling your prescription won’t even take a fraction of an eye blink. However, relevant to your present condition the duration may in fact feel to you much, much longer. I believe Einstein explained it best when discussing his Theory of Relativity- when kissing a pretty girl, an hour seems like a minute. When in the dentist chair, a minute seems like an hour. Unfortunately, the mitigating factors in fulfilling your request- third party issues, quantity of medication requested, current staffing levels and availability, the possibility of equipment failure, even sudden weather occurrences- prevent me from answering your question with any sort of confidence.
Her: I didn’t understand a word you just said.
Me: I know you didn’t.
Derrick Jeter is 39 years old. Nine months ago he broke his ankle. His net worth is conservatively estimated at $125 million dollars. He is a first ballot Hall of Famer. The New York Yankees are 49-42 and 6 games out of the AL East lead. He is movie star handsome, respected by his peers, and adored by legions of Yankees, and even a few Red Sox, fans. Why go through a rehab stint when it would have been so much easier to call a press conference and call it a career? What is he thinking? Why not walk away before you’re pushed out? Ego? Stubborn pride?
No. Like another New York legend, Frank Sinatra, Jeter is doing it his way.
I have expounded on what makes Jeter special at one point or another during every Yankees game I have ever witnessed, and sometimes during Sportscenter or MLB Tonight highlights. Class. Leadership. Attention to detail. Commitment to team. Unwillingness to give up or give in. On the field he exemplifies what athletes should aspire to. Off the field too. The fact that A-Rod has played so many games next to Jeter and is still A-Rod says everything about the Yanks 3rd baseman you would ever not want to know.
Two of my top three modern day athletes have retired this year. Brian Urlacher, by his own admission, lost his desire and because of the man he is chose to retire rather than hang around and sleepwalk through a season for a paycheck. Ray Lewis’ body gave up on him- too many Sundays of leaving it all on the field had left him with nothing more to give.
Jeter can still play. And he still wants to. And he is with an organization and a manager that will allow him to play until he can’t anymore. That’s repect. That’s loyalty. And whether or not you like the Yankees you must admit that’s pretty rare in today’s sporting world. Would the Yankees let any player dictate the terms of their exit? Probably not. But Jeter, like a handful of sports legends, has earned the right.
And when the Captain can’t help the team he’ll be gone. His way. And baseball won’t be the same for me.
“I can have oodles of charm when I want to.”
-Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions
I am not really that personable, although I fake it well. Most of us have a very shallow well of personality from which to draw from and mine is more shallow than most. Consequently I must treat my personality the way a Bedouin treats his water at an oasis- ration it, use it only when necessary, and don’t waste it on activities that do not provide an immediate reward. The majority of the people withhold their personality in this way, the exception being the extreme extroverts, the “life of the party” types who I have not and will never trust. I believe they are insane. Hitler was an extrovert. Did you know that?
My wife is an extrovert, and while she is the mother of my children and I love her so much it is physically painful at times, she is insane. The more people she is able to talk to the happier she is. As much as I can be in awe of anyone, and for a variety of reasons, I am in awe of her. However, it is this ability to interact with others without becoming exhausted that awes me the most. She can show up early for a party, make a crowd feel important and vital, and three hours later be going stronger than when she started. Me? Thirty minutes in and I’m camped out at the bar. It is a well known party trick for those physically incapable of engaging in conversations for more than five minutes at a time to chat with people as they wait to refresh their drinks. If the bartender is worthy of a buck a round then I only need to be sociable for five minutes- one fairly specific topic of conversation before they are off again and I’m left to recharge. Unless they want to do shots, and shots are the single most important reason to avoid camping out at the bar during wedding receptions and high school reunions.
Before you get the wrong idea, I really do like people. But like LASIK surgery, social situations leave me feeling like my eyeballs are being sucked out of my head. But I do like people. For brief periods and under the right circumstances. Much to my wife’s amazement nobody can really tell if I’m faking enjoying or if I’m actually enjoying, and it’s probably for the better that this is so, lest I never get invited to parties and my wife has to talk to me all of the time. Nothing is more disconcerting to her than ten minutes of me in a social situation, animated face, witty anecdotes, expressions oscillating between amazement or concern or amusement as the flow of talk dictates, only to turn away from the conversation and immediately adopt the flat affect of a lower functioning autistic. I make sure I lock eyes with her in these moments, the wrung out emotion a triumphant gesture of an indomitable will.
Then, a bee line for the bar.
Overachievers take everything personally. It’s not our fault. We aren’t talented enough for people to waste their time motivating us and we usually aren’t bright enough to motivate ourselves by traditional methods, like the love of money, or fame, or the appropriation of really cool clothes. Overachievers, however, tend to have active imaginations and we use that to mentally pick fights with the entire world. Consequently we look mad a lot. It’s not an act. Catch us at the right moment and you’re liable to be on the receiving end of a tirade akin to a delusional psychotic screaming through your dirty windshield while he’s giving it a spit shine at a red light. Don’t take it personal- we’re just trying to find that extra gear.
Done correctly we’re Michael Jordan, windmill dunking over a world of non-believers.
Taken too far we’re Montresor in The Cask of Amontillado.
For the love of God, indeed.