Point of View: Solace on the Sidelines
The other day, staring out the window at a gray sky (there hasn’t been much else sky-wise to stare at recently), I began to fill out a questionnaire having to do with my 50th college reunion.
As for hobbies, I listed my wife as number one, following up with tennis, Spanish, and rereading my columns. Kafka, after all, sometimes laughed when reading his stories to friends, so why can’t I, even though I know I’m no Kafka, whose stories presaged a torturous century.
In contrast, I’m not prescient, having no idea what’s going to happen next. Though, antlike, I trust in Pollyanna fashion that things will continue to go swimmingly in Bonac.
Along this line, I apologized to Alfredo Corchado, a courageous journalist who covers the U.S.-Mexican border, before he began his talk at the Rogers Memorial Library the other night. “We’re living in La-La Land,” I said. “And I,” I confessed further, “write sports.”
He was forgiving, as if to say, It’s all right, Jack. I can understand why you would want to live in such a beautiful place.
He himself, I was interested to hear, had at one time thought of sportswriting. Instead, he chose to continue bearing witness to the grisly truth of the frontera, which, despite his removal from Durango, Mexico, to this country’s central California ranches at the age of 6, and despite his U.S. citizenship, he still considers his home.
He continues on this dangerous beat because he has reason to hope that things will turn around, that Mexico will regain its democratic soul, and that the rule of law will one day return to his home.
I applaud him, from the sidelines, averting my eyes and seeking solace from the world’s agonies in the sports pages.
And when asked by the aforementioned questionnaire to list achievements and to enclose a personal essay, I tell them that in July 1965 I won the United States Army Ryukyu Islands tennis singles championship (the stronger competitors presumably having been diverted elsewhere), was the East Hampton Indoor Tennis Club men’s doubles league’s runner-up this winter, and received the Old Montauk Athletic Club’s community service award for 2010.
There also was an honorable mention once from the New York Press Association for another column concerning a reunion, a high school one, in which I replied, when asked if I had a vacation home, “Yes, a 1969 Ford Falcon.”
When it came to the personal essay, which was, I gathered, to strike a valedictory tone, I stared out the window at the gray sky, wondering how best to sum it all up, and then wrote, “Ugh, it’s raining.”