AC, ABA, and Simplicity (#29)

“Allen, this whole time I thought we were making our way from the west after seeing my brother and running into all these people from high school and throughout history was a dream?”

“Yep,” said Allen.

“What about Ali, Parcels, and crashing the debate?”

“Never happened.”

“Ester Rolle, the leprechaun, my horse carriage business?”

“Nope. Nope. Nope.”

“What the hell, man? Am I going crazy?”

“I don’t know. You’ve always been a bit of a receptive spirit.”

“What do mean by that, Allen?”

“You know that song, Telegraph Road, by Dire Straits?”

“Yeah.”

“You’re like that, full of linear development and Rory, you know you’re my boy, but if I were to go about deconstructing you, I’d say you’re in need of some demassification.”

“I must be back in a dream. I’ll play along, although, this conversation is a bit woolly.”

“We live in an era of technocrats and you’ve been wrestling with your place in this word for quite some time.”

“What do technocrats have to do with anything?”

“You’ve never been one for special effects. You prefer acoustic or simple electric guitar to crazy synthed up sounds. You never turn your phone on and Facebook is the bane of your existence. You are the anti-technocrat.”

“Still waiting…”

“I’m just saying that all this technology and social media has been a catalyst for you to understand what you are all about.”

“Go on,” said Rory.

“You wrestle with social, media or otherwise, so all of this pressure to be on this or that has become much too weighty. You went to sleep trying to find meaning and purpose in a world that for all of its connectedness is a testament to isolation and an abundance of trivial social interactions.”

Rory thought for a moment, “That’s pretty good for a guy who once argued that psychology does not exist.”

Allen bowed.

“So what do I do with all of these dreams? They must mean something.”

“How do you resolve complex issues?” asked Allen.

“I shoot hoops.”

With that Rory and Allen hopped into Rory’s grandpa truck. They turned on the radio and Telegraph Road was playing. The song was nearing the end with the great instrumental when Rory turned into Quarterpath Park. He kept an old ABA basketball in back in case he ever wanted to shoot baskets somewhere. There was one car in the parking lot, a lime green Toyota from the late seventies. It was clean, not a speck of dust or a rag streak anywhere on it.

“You know who’s car that is, don’t you?” said Rory to Allen.

“AC, cool old, Alvin Cauthorn.”

Sure enough, out on the court in his blue sweat suit was the man himself. AC had been one of the coolest dudes ever. He was a stud football player, went to college, and came back to teach in his hometown. He had been Rory’s coach in junior high for basketball and Allen’s coach in football. He could have been Denzel’s study for coolness and everyone’s model for treating people right.

“What’s up, coach?”

“My goodness, if it isn’t old Rory and Allen. What’s going on fellas?”

Allen answered, “Since you asked, Rory is having a hard time figuring out who he is. What advice can you give him?”

“First of all,” said Rory, “are you here or am I dreaming?”

“I’m here, just as you are. What’s the problem?”

“I don’t know, coach. Life used to be so simple. Everyone told me if I worked hard and set ever challenging goals I could be something.”

AC stroked his beard and Rory wondered how there wasn’t a bit of gray in it. “You know, Rory, the idea that we keep getting better if we keep raising the bar is full of pressure. It’s too straight ahead for me. I think we move forward, test the boundaries, maybe fail, and try again. There are missteps, but we find a way that works. It’s messy, slow, and at odds with the establishment, but if we learn to think, we can to where we are supposed to be.”

Rory looked at Allen, “He didn’t say anything about technocrats.” Allen made a face back at Rory.

“This time we live in presumes that continued improvement is the only way. Technology has fueled that because of the speed involved in everything. I’m guessing you want something that is more simple.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because you have an ABA basketball. What screams old-school more than a red, white and blue basketball? I’d say the ball represents your gratitude for what sports once were and a bit of pessimism for what sports are. In your search for simplicity and finding out who you are you hold on to the ball because it suggests that the past is within reach.”

“Whoa, coach, you made us think when we played, but you are blowing my mind now,” said Rory.

“Nope, I’m just helping you sort what you already know. What do you think about the ball?”

“I don’t know. It’s got style. The colors make it stand out.”

“How about you go in the corner and show me that patented Rory jumper?”

Rory went to the corner, squared up, and let the ball fly. His wrist flicked and hung over the rim. The rotation of the ball was perfect and the red, white, and blue mixed into a purple as the ball arched and fell into the net.

“Money!” said Allen.

“No, it was more than that. Those three colors became one. All the parts came together to make a perfect shot. Rory, it’s time for you to put the doubt away and rejoin the rest of us. No need to bring the ball, you have all you need. I’ve got to go. It was nice seeing you guys.”

Rory and Allen watched as Coach Cauthorn drove across the dusty parking lot. None of the dust stuck to his rims.

“Come on, Allen, we’ve got somewhere to be.”

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