The Basketball Kid, Part 1

March 16, 2007

Here is a photograph of me holding with sarcastic ferocity the two league runner-up trophies my brother won while serving as a benchwarmer on his high school varsity team. I was 16 years old. I had just finished a year in which I’d played junior varsity basketball, not being nearly good enough to be even a benchwarmer on varsity, and I knew that the following year, my last in high school, I would also not be good enough to make varsity. I had quit playing baseball a couple years before (and quit collecting baseball cards a year or two before that), and I didn’t care about school, and was incapable of making even the slightest connection with any of the girls I creepily lusted for, so I think it’s safe to say basketball had become the most important part of my life, and I wasn’t nearly good enough at it to keep playing it in a meaningful context. I was not The Basketball Kid. But if I was not The Basketball Kid, who was I?

And who am I?

I mean, is this the story of my life? I haven’t played basketball in a couple of years, not since a relaxed half-hour game of one-on-one with my Peruvian downstairs neighbor weakened my body to such an extent that I spent the next four months with bronchitis. But I still am finding myself not good enough to play on the team of my choosing: I turned 39 a couple weeks ago, which means I have less than a year before I’m a 40-year-old aspiring novelist who has never had a novel published. No real career to speak of, writing or otherwise, still living paycheck to paycheck, more or less. This dream of mine of becoming a writer, sometimes I fucking despise it. Change the addressee of the famous Brokeback Mountain monologue from “secret gay lover” to “vague, impractical dream of becoming a novelist” and it pretty much sums up the way I feel sometimes:

“It’s because of you that I’m like this! I’m nothin’ . . . I’m nowhere . . . Get the fuck off me! I can’t stand being like this no more.”

One comment

  1. 1.  3 comments from the old CG site:

    Ken Arneson said…
    Perhaps it might help your dream if you put some contact information on this web site. I’ve wanted to email you in the past, but couldn’t find your address, and gave up.

    Just so I don’t sound like a hypocrite, you can email me at ken2007@baseballtoaster.com.

    6:16 PM

    Josh Wilker said…
    Thanks a lot for the tip, Ken. I actually thought there was a way to email me if you clicked on the “view my complete profile” link. There wasn’t! (I think there used to be, but it must have disappeared during a so-called “upgrade.”) Anyway, it’s there now, or should be, and here it is now, too: jawilker68@yahoo.com. I’d like to put it on the main page, but am not very savvy about this kind of thing. Thanks again for pointing out that missing info.

    6:51 PM

    Anonymous said…
    wait…you saw Brokeback Mountain?


    5:09 PM

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