So I'm walking through the newsroom one day last week, and I see, on a low metal shelf, where people dump stuff they don't want—books, snacks, promotional freebies—someone has left this cool little yellow football.
I snatch it up, thinking, "Wow, lucky me. A little yellow football."
And my heart was filled with joy, so much that I immediately displayed my prize to an editor nearby, and said something like, "Since I'm sometimes accused of being a pointy-headed intellectual, I'm going to share with you the exact thought that just went through my mind when I snagged this: 'Wow, lucky me. A little yellow football.' It takes so little to make me happy."
She looked at me strangely.
Okay, it's Saturday. Stupid stuff should get a pass on Saturday, a day that still retains the whiff of childhood about it. Probably because, when you're young, there is no school on Saturday, and when you grow up, no work either, so the liberating lightness of leisure enfolds the day, or should, or can.
Said the man who invariably works on Saturday.
Still. There's more. I take my little football—about the size of a small lemon—and go into my office, and immediately begin bouncing it high against the set of the New Catholic Encyclopedia I have atop a row of cabinets over my desk, near the ceiling. I hope this doesn't strike some readers as anti-Catholic hate -- they can be very sensitive, and focus on the oddest things. I wasn't venting rage against the New Catholic Encyclopedia, wasn't pelting it with this yellow prolate spheroid.
It was more of a habit. A while back, a journalism class from Brigham Young University in Idaho came to visit me, and brought a foam potato, as a sort of present. A life-size potato with "BYU" on it. At first I'd just squeeze the thing, occasionally. Then toss it up and catch it. Then bounce it off the cabinet. Then the New Catholic Encyclopedia—again, not violently, not in an anti-papist rage. Just for the exercise, for the distraction. (Jeez, you'd think I'd get credit for having the New Catholic Encyclopedia around, all 17 volumes. It didn't just show up there by itself. And yes, I do use it, when necessity arises).
Anyway, I'd toss the foam potato up, it would bounce around the encyclopedia, then drop down, taking unexpected trajectories, and I would catch it, or not catch it, it sometimes took strange bounces that required some skill to snag, it being potato-shaped and not round. The brief game was a welcome break from writing this stuff all the time. But one day, well, I tossed the potato too far, and it became trapped behind the New Catholic Encyclopedia. It never bounced down. It's there now.
I suppose I could get up on the step stool I inherited when the paper shut its library (the same period when I shanghaied the New Catholic Encyclopedia) and retrieve it, but that would involve effort, and I just went without the simple childish pleasure of tossing a foam rubber tuber at a massive set of religious reference works and then catching it again.
Which will give you the background of why I was so happy to have the little football, beyond its littleness and yellowness and squishiness. I've been tossing it with more care.
Anyway, it's Saturday. I think I'll stop writing, so you can stop reading, and we can both go do something fun, though this is my idea of fun, which I suppose is sorta sad....
I should point out, in parting, that it never crossed my mind to wonder, until now, about whatever the little football is promoting. A TV show of some sort. You wonder why they go to the trouble.