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Never Give Up Trying

Posted Jan 10 2010 12:00am
When we were teenagers, my brother Roy and I hung out at an elementary school located two blocks from the Lopez Mansion where we would play ball games with many of the guys from the neighborhood.

After school, we would go home and eat something then head over to the school. Mom would yell at us to do our homework but gave up after about a year because we always did it when we got home after it was too dark to see the ball. Roy and I had more important things to do than homework.

I don't mind saying that after months of shooting baskets I developed a very good hook shot. If we got to the school first Roy and I would practice our shooting. I of course worked on my hook.

I shot from the baseline. I shot from the sides. I shot from mid-court. And I got pretty good.

I could hit the board from any spot on the court and bank the ball through the hoop to make the chain link net rattle loud. I liked the sound it made when it hit the board because a swisher just wasn't loud enough for me. The bang of the ball bouncing off the backboard served to exclaim the points and would usually elicit a WHOA from the guys. It was beautiful.

When I was going through the HDIL-2 the flank pain was a real nuisance. It never let up. I decided the muscles needed stretching so on a trip to Walmart one day I plunked down $2 for a cheap basketball and took to shooting hook shots.

It hurt like hell.

The treatments left me weakened to the point that I was only able to shoot from under the net at first. Took me several weeks to work up to a range of about ten feet. The flank would scream with every shot and I would grunt but I was determined to stretch those muscles. And it worked.

In our kitchen next to the microwave stand Glenda has placed the kitchen trash can. It is perfectly located about 20 feet from the couch. There is nothing between my end of the couch and the can.

And this is the point of this essay.

Now and then, as we sit and watch TV into the end of the day, I will eat a snack. The napkin I use has to go in the trash so I do what I was once a star at. I wad up the napkin, turn to my left and eyeball the can to judge the range. I look to be sure there are no obstacles that could prevent my making the shot.

"Why don't you just get up and go put it in the can?" I hear from the stands behind me.

"Silence woman!" I reply. "I'm concentrating."

The ceiling fan is the only thing that could possibly break the ball's arc to it's final destination. Thankfully, the goddess of the house has turned off the power to ease my making it from such a daunting distance. The ceiling is low enough that it poses a possible problem. The lights have also been extinguished adding to the difficulty of the shot. I must depend on my Sutent filled mind to reach through the eons to the days of my mid-court shots.

I point my left shoulder to the target. I turn my head a little more to the left for a good aim. My neck creaks as the bones are forced to turn farther than they have in years. I adjust my glasses to be sure I see the target clearly. My right arm projects outward and I align it with the opposing shoulder to ensure a straight tragectory.

The suspense is profound.

The only sounds are the TV and a lonely spectator emitting a barely audible sigh. She can't force herself to look. I bring my arm up and, at the correct moment, release the ball and send it flying. The darkness envelopes the ball while it travels so I am forced to listen for the sound of it hitting the can. Sometimes I am able to see if it goes in, sometimes not.

More often than not, the ball misses by feet. Once in a while though, it is a direct hit.

It is then that I raise my arms in victory and I do a little victory dance around the kitchen.

Glenda shakes her head and utters her praise, "Oh brother."

"I still got it. I still got it," I sing.

The pleasure is sublime. And I am at peace.
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