This week’s exercise based on Dickhead by Tony Hoagland:
Create a colloquial, witty, but vulnerable older narrator who’s remembering a painful situation from when he was young. Although the situation is painful, he presents it with in a playful way, with a lot of humour (and again the love for language!). The overall tone is light-hearted. The voice is quite intimate, and speaks more directly to the reader (as compared to the Duncker piece).
To the guy who threw me the basketball that afternoon, while I was watching from the sidelines, I owe a debt of thanks. Finding my way on the basketball court helped me to find my way in this world, at a time when I was feeling lost.
I was tall and lanky when I was a teenager, shaped like a beanstalk, twisting and twirling endlessly towards the sky, wobbling from left to right as I walked through the corridors of that penitentiary institution they call school. My head was constantly in the clouds, residing in a different stratosphere than the others, and it often seemed like I lived my life in a different reality than the others.
But when you are on a basketball court, you enter into a different world. Suddenly the basketball becomes the center of attention, the object of obsession for everyone on the court, and whoever controls the basketball also becomes the center of attention.
So whenever I am plucking another rebound out from the sky after a missed shot, I am also claiming possession of the ball. Whenever I am dribbling the ball down the court, I am also consolidating my claim over the ball. And whenever I am lining up for a shot, swishing the ball through the net, I am also demonstrating my mastery over the ball. Having the ball in my hands gives me faith in my own abilities.
And now I look back and remember the times when I felt lost, and I marvel at how my life has changed thanks to a round, orange, rubbery object.