Doug Dascenzo

July 18, 2020

Doug Dascenzo
What’s It Good For?


I used this Doug Dascenzo card to heed my sons’ request to crush a spider a few weeks ago. I kept him on my desk for a while because it seemed like something I might be able to write about, and here I am writing about it, although it took me so long to get around to it that the remains of the spider, which were initially on Doug Dascenzo’s face, have dried up and disappeared. The card moved around over the weeks it was on my desk. What ever stays in one place? It got shuffled to the bottom of a pile of other cards, fell off the desk, came back onto the desk to join a pile of things I didn’t want to deal with, including condolence cards I planned to write and an early draft of my will that I’d filled out using a free online service I accessed through my job. There wasn’t much leeway to do anything fancy with the free online will-writing service, but there was one small text box where I could add directions on what should be done with my remains.

Eventually Doug Dascenzo rose up off the desk to get pinned by a Lagunitas bottle cap magnet to the metal file cabinet beside the desk. Beneath Doug Dascenzo is a piece of printer paper I filled with empty boxes at the beginning of this year, the worst year I’ve ever seen. I didn’t know it was going to be so bad, of course, none of us did, though the horizon had certainly been darkening for a while. That darkening may have been why I resolved at the beginning of this year to push onward with work on the writing of a novel I’d been getting defeated by for a couple years, which is to say working on, a little, but mostly not working on. So each box on the piece of printer paper was an hour, 200 in all. I work full time and have two young children, so not a lot of time to write, but at night when the boys go to bed I write, working on that novel, sometimes for a half hour, sometimes for more, but the point is I darken one of those boxes at least a little.

We’re past the halfway point in the year, and I’ve darkened more than half of the boxes. The process helped me push past the enormous resistance from the blank page and, most nights, get to a place where I’m goofing around a little on the page. That’s all I could ever ask for. Maybe it’ll add up to something. Anyway I won’t stop until it’s something, unless, you know, something swoops down out of nowhere and flattens me.


I started writing about Doug Dascenzo last night, and it occurred to me today, while I was with my younger son in the corner of a small park near my house, that I have some sense of what will happen when I die. I don’t mean the part I mapped out in my online-form will, about how whatever I have goes to my wife or if she’s gone too to my sons, which will amount to some clothes and a bunch of old notebooks and a box of baseball cards. I mean what the experience will be like, what it will be like to die.

My son was pretending a thin fallen branch of a tree was some sort of motorcycle that was able to jet us back and forth across the grass, allowing us to travel back and forth across the continent from “home” (our backpacks and water and some cheese popcorn and our masks) to “California” and back and then to to “North California” and back, and then, finally, to “Malifornia.” Each time I got on the back of the vehicle and grabbed onto to his shirt and hung on, and he started running, and I sort of shuffle-ran along behind, making him laugh by losing my grip on his shirt and flying off, never quite making it.

That sounds a little like what death might be like, the feel of my son’s T-shirt slipping out of my fingers as he runs on ahead, laughing, but that’s not what I meant by my getting a sense of what it might be like to die. I’m almost nine years into being a father, and most of what goes on when I’m with them, purportedly playing with them, is in my mind, some manner of discursive thinking and daydreams, and today was no different, the boredom of the kinds of games that please a six-year-old pushing me toward thoughts of Doug Dascenzo, and it hit me that had I not randomly grabbed a Doug Dascenzo card from the mess of the floor to kill a spider a few weeks ago and subsequently pulled him and his Cubs hat and his blank expression into the gauzy orbit of my thoughts I would have not been able to, had I been asked to do so, distinguish in even the slightest way Doug Dascenzo from Gary DiSarcina. I might have been able, at gunpoint, to have blurted out that one of them had something to do, at some point, with the Angels, but that’s about it. Maybe one of them broke up a no-hitter? Or maybe they both seem to fit the stereotype of no-hitter foilers. Anyway, all of this is besides the point. The point is I might have once known the difference between the two of them, and I even may be able, with the writing of this and, yes, the inevitable Googling of both of them, to build them back into distinct entities in my mind, but this won’t last for long. I will lose any ability to tell Doug Dascenzo from  Gary DiSarcina. And that’s how it’ll go. Just as those two completely different people essentially become one indistinct journeyman in my mind, so will I in the vastness of the indifferent living eternity become one and the same with the sound of the cicadas, or my son’s smile, or the guts of a spider, or the beaten clover from here to Malifornia.



One comment

  1. I know *one* thing about DiSarcina, and I think you’d be interested in it! He wore 33 in honor of Larry Bird, as he was from one of the Boston suburbs.

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