A little something I say to myself when I want to get back on track. Start with something you know. I have wondered if one of these days I might say that my name is Tommy Walker. Not quite in this context, at one point tonight I found myself thinking of myself in terms of my pseudonym ahead of my given name, which I think is a kind of first. I’ve been known to think of myself as Lovehandle when reveling in victories at chess, or as my screen name persona when my mind’s on my Guessing Game, but as far as I know when this happened, I was just being myself, whoever that is.
See if you can find the weak link in my logic:
One thing I’d picked up on in reading biographies of star baseball players was that as Little Leaguers they tended to dominate boys who were as many as three years older. Recalling that I was about 2 1/2 years younger than the average sixth grader at the time I became my school’s best tetherball player, your typical Major League superstar wasn’t that far ahead.
Harder to get a feel for one’s comparative standing in the universe as a dishwasher, especially when you’re the only one at your restaurant at any given time and there isn’t an organized league, but because I had this background in tetherball which I could comfortably relate to the far better organized baseball world, I was able to get such a feel. Just reaching back to my tetherball glory days and remembering what it felt like from the inside, far as stepping into that flow state, I experienced myself as being a significantly better dishwasher relative to my body’s development than I ever was a tetherball player. Given that I had projected to a journeyman Major League tetherball player as it was, I figured that I dished world class.
I would never have revisited this passage with an especially skeptical eye were it not for some troubling new information regarding my standing as a dishwasher. Maybe five years after this writing, I glimpsed a coworker on one of my off-days tearing it up, to the point I had a hard time believing that I was any faster in my prime. A formerly world-class dishwasher should never meet his equal or better in his lifetime, certainly not at some Podunk greasy spoon on a tiny island. I have since worked two straight jobs from ages 44 to 47 in which I haven’t even been the fastest dishwasher at my establishment if promoted cooks are included, and I don’t think a world-class disher at age 20 could reasonably be expected to fall off his game so severely in his old age.
Where I think I was most addled was in equating the flow states between tetherball and dishwashing. There is no force working against the state of flow when you’re doing your thing in the dish pit, whereas the object in tetherball is to disrupt the flow of your opponent. So it should come as no surprise that the quality of my flow states in dishwashing were better.
A person might also quibble with my argument’s given, that I projected to a tetherball Big Leaguer, but at least I left the door open as to whether I did or didn’t. Anatoly Karpov became the World Chess Champion by default when Bobby Fischer flamed out, and he has always been considered to be worthy, but should the second best player in one’s third-grade elementary have a snowball’s chance to make the Majors? Maybe so and maybe not.
The contrarian in me likes to argue for ‘born’; it’s more fun for being more challenging and unsuspected, coming from someone who wrote a fat book that seems to come down heavily on ‘made’. We are all born to kill, but weight times fury is insufficient to add up to murder when we are infants, and eventually most of us are derailed from our natural paths by the socialization process. There is also the matter that we are nine Chinese months old when we are born, and our most formative years and months are stacked toward the beginning. We in no small part are born after we have been made, and birth is such an arbitrary line to be drawing anyway. Erase the line and heredity/environment merge into the single concept of Shit Happens, as opposed to shit that happens before and shit that happens after, since environment informs the heredity of future generations.
I used to think the question legitimate, if idiotic, that idiots could actually believe the type of idiot arguments that typically lead one to conclude on the ‘born’ side. Actually, I know they can. But there’s a higher intelligence at work here that can’t afford to let on at the level of conscious thinking and speech that these arguments are pure B.S.
It’s the same with political partisanship, where 50% of the world are total idiots to the other 50%. While the conservative true believer is feeding line after line in trying to thwart a just cause, a higher intelligence pulling his strings is saying yeah, my arguments may be groundless, but they’re the only ones I’ve got. And my puppet needs to push against this new idea with all his might, as he must push against all new ideas, to help ensure that only good ideas wind up being enacted. To push with all his might, he needs to believe what he’s saying, so I won’t tell him I’m pulling his leg.
The thing about allying with the really true truth, as conventionally argued, that monsters are made more than born, is that with understanding comes forgiveness, and that the more you look into it the better the killer looks in relation to society. In fact, if you delve absolutely, it’s a total vindication for the “Bad” Guys over the “Good”, not just a draw but a win. The ‘made’s are correct, and the attitude is therapeutic, but the problem is that the perspective is, at base, not opposed to murder.
And we can’t have that!
Or can we?
Part three of three looking back at my rivalry with “William Duboise”.
I’m the one who usually finished first when it was something mathematical, and I left him a distant second at the multiplication tables. And whether or not he tended to top me in other endeavors, up until the Frog Dissection of the previous entry, I always thought I was better than him when it mattered to me the most.
At the end-of-the-year awards assembly there were lots of nothing trophies being issued like they were going out of style. If you so much as joined an after-school club, chances were you’d bring something home simply for being a member. But seeing as I’d been a lump my whole two years at Crandall, I was basically a lump at the assembly. Never once heard my name.
Mildly enjoyable watching all those happy deserving people picking up their hardware. The applause, the enthusiasm, and besides we got to skip two classes. But it really got to me the way I kept hearing William Duboise’s name, and it wasn’t for being captain of the basket weaving team that they were asking him to grace the stage.
Turkey #2 was called forth to honor his straight-A average, his position as National Merit Scholar, to receive his award as outstanding student of the year for the second year in a row. It was like an Oscar sweeps the way he kept being cited for all the biggest awards. Framing academic excellence at different angles, and it didn’t matter how they worded it; William would always rank as one of the elite group or as the elite one. I was watching this and thinking, “What happened?” Why him and
not me, or why me, for that matter, because there was no appreciative difference between us back when. If anything, I was the star.
The Monstrousphiles will appreciate that I had one more significant “William” sighting within the time frame of my book, when I went to “Todd Stickley”‘s graduation and “William” was valedictorian. The only full sentence my memory can attribute to him came when he stood at the podium and said “Please don’t gown at my jokes”.
You figure Dahmer would have aced Frog Dissection, but I’m my own man. Part two of three to commemorate the recent finding online of my long lost rival.
Second half of the year, me and William Duboise found ourselves enrolled in Science, our first shared class since early third grade. There came a frog dissection project. Me and William would be working as partners for the very first time.
In the higher grades they let you fail more privately than in grade school, the older a dog you become. I’d recently experienced plenty of failure in this class and others already, but up until now it had mostly been my little secret. Wordlessly my brain cells had been committing hara-kiri at a truly alarming rate.
William was as strong a student as ever. He was amazingly quick of mind, and I didn’t realize until the frog dissection just how quick. This was when for me it became painfully clear how far the two of us had diverged in terms of academic sharpness, and by extension since we had once been so neck and neck, how far I had diverged from my former self. He knew what he was doing when it came to that frog, that no, that’s a lung and that’s a liver, while all I really knew was that I didn’t know shit.
Maybe this is how my anonymity, where thought to be worth preserving, will finally get blown.
Intro to my Rival
The lifestyle of tetherball began, and while I found I was quite good, so was William “Rocket Man” Duboise, a kid who was also one-two with me in almost everything academic. He was beating me by a ratio of 54-46, which I know because I used to keep track.
In tetherball as in life, winner stays on, so with me and William playing head and shoulders above the class, one of us would almost always be in the winner’s semi-circle. A common scenario would have me knocking off six straight challengers before William came next in line. William beats me, knocks off six in a row, then I beat him, and so on. Generally we’d make short work of the others, but our matches against each other could last as long as the other six combined. In a pool of eight players only two of who could play at once, me and William would each be on the court about seventy-five percent of the time, and the people waiting in line would get tired of watching us play.
In the midst of one of our signature marathon matches, someone from the peanut gallery speaking for everyone said, “Come on, you turkeys! Somebody win!” and I was struck with inspiration.
“That’s it!” I said. “We’re the Turkeys!”
“Yeah!” William chimed, and so the Turkeys were born.
Besides being the best players in the grade, we were united on the rules under which we liked to compete. I nominated and William seconded the motion that the Turkeys would be founded on a dedication to the furtherance of “Turkey Rules” as the only right way to play.
One of the effects of having two great athletes on display down at the tetherball courts, the two best students to boot, was that the game’s local popularity grew in leaps and bounds, quickly becoming the most popular sport in the second grade. Me and William became masters of the great outdoors to complement our indoor credentials, undisputed big shots on campus.
- The Spirit of Dennis Rader
- My Friend Dahmer
- Not Much to Say
- Only the Shadow Knows
- Jagged Breathing and All
- Talking Cows
- Colin Flaherty of ‘White Girl Bleed a Lot’
- What the Heck to Call This Thing, and
- I Can See Two Starbucks at the Same Time
- I Love Trolls
- I Ended Up Reading the Book Twice
- Coming Up With a Title– The MONSTROUS by WALKER Show