Laundry night: I load up the car with the duffel bag full of dirty clothes and head out to the my favorite laundromat, the one with an attendant. The big TV in the corner is on, with some inane show about celebrities, so once the wash is going I run out to do some shopping. A light rains starts while I’m in the store. Back to put the clothes in the dryer; now the TV has a game show, so I sit in the car and begin reading Ned Rorem’s memoir, Knowing When To Stop. I decide I like his grim but refreshing words:
Life has no meaning. We’ve concocted the universe as we’ve concocted God. (Anna Noailles: “If God existed, I’d be the first to know.”) Our sense of the past and our sense of encroaching death are aberrations unshared by the more perfect “lower” animals. On some level everyone concurs — pedants, poets, politicians, and priests. The days of wine and rose are not long, but neither are they short; they simply aren’t. Hardly a new notion, but with me the meaninglessness [of life] was clear from the start….
I disagree with some of the details of what Rorem says, but not the underlying substance. Life is meaningless, and that is probably why I am a Red Sox fan. Baseball season has begun once again, and Johnny Damon has been traded to the New York Yankees; seeing Damon cleanshaven and with short hair is just unnecessary, an additional bit of evidence that life has no meaning.
When I head back in to fold my now-dry clothes, the ballgame is on. Curt Schilling is pitching, holding off an attack by the Seattle Mariners in the fifth. He’s got quite a gut, Schilling does; baseball is the sport of all different body types. A split-finger fastball makes the last out: another reason that I know this is an imperfect meaningless world is that I have yet to be able to see the difference between the pitches when I’m watching a game. Except once when I was given tickets to an April ballgame in Fenway Park and Tim Wakefield was pitching; believe me, I could see that he was pitching knuckleballs. It rained that April ballgame of years ago, just as it’s raining tonight.
Back in the car, I find the game on WSAR out of Fall River. “Are those ambience microphones waterproof? They’ve got waterproof covers? I see. Schilling’s back on the mound…” I can follow the game better on the radio, I can imagine that I’m in Fenway Park. Fenway, where hopes springs eternal in April, only to fade in September or maybe mid-October; except, impossibly, in October of 2004.
The rain is steady, it really hasn’t increased in density…. but it’s still coming down, the pitch, a swing and a miss! The Red Sox waste another double. After eight, two-to-one Boston….
But Schilling went eight innings with only three hits. Just one more inning to go…two quick outs…a base hit by Ichiro Suzuki…and then….
…and the throw is to first, and this one is over…. Jonathan Papelbon gets the save! A two-to-one victory for the Sox!
Hey, maybe there is hope, maybe life does have meaning after all.