Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Basketball And Brothers

For some reason, our basketball night got switched.

Last winter, Tuesday night was basketball night. For the last several weeks, however, Wednesday night has become basketball night.

I don’t know the exact reason for this change, but Wednesday somehow seems to fit everyone’s schedule better recently. It may be nothing more than the fact that many churches suspend Wednesday night services in the summer, making Wednesday nights available right now.

Basketball is my favorite sport, and the one I am best at. I still have my shooting eye and I still have my jump shot.

In high school and junior high school, basketball was my life. It was the most important thing for me, more important than my family or my schoolwork or anything else.

The last official basketball game I played was an unexpected loss in the Oklahoma high school regional finals. My team had been heavily favored to win that game, and we lost it in the final two minutes. We were better than the other team, but at the end of the game we lost our nerve. We started playing in order not to lose, not in order to win.

I was devastated at the time, but my devastation ended the following Monday morning. When I work up that Monday morning, I realized that basketball was now behind me permanently and that I needed to move forward with more important things. I have never looked back.

I still love to play and I play as often as possible, but I now play for enjoyment. I don’t play in order to win.

Andrew plays basketball for enjoyment, too, but two of the guys we play basketball with play in order to win. Everyone knows this and those two guys are always placed on opposing teams and they are matched up against each other. We have to do this or the games will not be fun for everybody else.

There is no sport I play now to win. Everything I play now is for fun.

The same is true of Andrew, except that he plays tennis to win. Tennis is Andrew’s serious game, and he devotes his full energies and attention to winning at tennis.

I never play tennis with Andrew because he is too good for me and it is no fun for him to play against me. He can wipe the court with me if he wants to, and I’m a pretty fair player. He can run me ragged all over the court with pinpoint shots and serve me off the court and return my serve with winner after winner.

Andrew now only plays tennis during the week and he plays downtown very early in the morning or at lunchtime. He plays with two other guys who can play at his level. He generally plays each guy once a week, and those two guys play each other once a week.

For fun, Andrew and I also play handball and racquetball, but we really don’t play anything else. We don’t have time to play soccer or rugby or softball, too.

Unlike Andrew, his brothers are very competitive and they always play EVERYTHING to win. They play handball and racquetball and basketball to win.

They also play monopoly and checkers and canasta to win. They are very competitive in everything.

When Andrew plays anything against his brothers, he never plays to win but he always plays just well enough to keep things interesting. This is something that must have been worked out long ago, when the three brothers were kids.

Andrew and his brothers are very close and they have a deep understanding of one another. They do not even need to talk to communicate with each other. A quick glance at each other is all they need to communicate.

Andrew and his brothers can go for hours without talking and yet they are aware of what each other is thinking and feeling.

I have watched them watch basketball games together, and I can observe them communicate with each other with quick glances and nods. For instance, they do not need to talk in order to settle on which particular ESPN basketball game to watch. A couple of glances back and forth is all they need.

Andrew and his brothers also often communicate in monosyllables. A series of “yeah” and “sure” and “OK” is all they need to carry on a full conversation that is meaningful to them. It may not be meaningful to me or anyone else, but it is meaningful to them.

I never had that with my brother and sister, probably because I am six and seven years older than my full siblings. The age difference was too great for us to develop the kind of bond Andrew and his brothers have.

I’m not jealous of that bond because it is so special and because I can see that it is so special. What Andrew and his brothers have is a great and beautiful gift, and I would never want to take that away from them or interfere with it in any way.

Andrew is very special and his brothers are very special and they have welcomed me into their lives. That makes me feel special, too.


  1. Joshie, tell Drew that he should add tennis to the list of sports he plays solely for fun. He smoked me back in June, and I was the one who was not having much fun.

  2. You know, Josh, being an only child, I've always been slightly envious of those who have at least a sibling or two.

    I've always wondered how love between a brother and sister feels.

    Is it as powerful as a mother's love? As passionate as the love between two lovers? So many questions hover above my head when it comes to this.

    Andrew and you should consider yourselves lucky to have siblings to play around with.

  3. Hey, Chanteuse.

    That is such a difficult question!

    It varies with each person and each family, I think.

    I have three older half siblings. We have never been close except for one occasion when I took a trip with two of them. I was never raised in the same home as any of them, so it is not surprising that we are not close. They were raised in Florida and I was raised in Oklahoma. This meant that I did not see them very often.

    My two younger full siblings are different. We were raised in the same home and obviously we are much closer. However, there is an age gap between us. Moreover, I have not lived at home for five years. This does not help us maintain closeness.

    I love all of them. I don’t necessarily love all of them in the same way, but I love all of them.

    That’s an impossible question you have raised!


  4. Thanks for shedding light on my apparently unanswerable question.

    I ought to change my blog into "SOLITAIRE Chanteuse". After all, it has always been my nickname.

  5. I don't think I shed any light at all.

    I like Opera Chanteuse. I would keep the name Opera Chanteuse if I were you.

  6. You're right. I think I had better keep it.

  7. I think that Opera Chanteuse is an excellent name.

    Next time, ask me easy questions. You know, "What is the capital of the State of Ohio?" and "Who won World War II" things like that. Things I can actually answer.

  8. Paul, next time play handball, not tennis.

    That will solve the problem.

  9. Thanks. Deal.

    By the way, what IS the capital of Ohio? I always get it mixed up with the capital of Iowa.

  10. I think the following are the correct answers:

    Des Moines won World War II, defeating Columbus in overtime.

    The U.S.A. is the capital of Ohio.

    I think these answers are correct.

  11. Joshie, I would check your facts.

    I think that Columbus came back and forced a second overtime in World War II, in which it upended Des Moines with a miracle shot at the buzzer.

  12. I guess I was confusing the outcome of World War II with World War I.

    At least I never get confused about the Spanish-American War, which pitted the Prado Museum against the Art Institute Of Chicago, which won in a route.

  13. So, Joshie, what's the news? Andrew says you have made a decision.

  14. Hey, Paul. In essence: (1) law school, not grad school: and (2) I will start a real job when we return from London--I will work during the year before law school at a law firm, doing administrative work.

  15. So you're going to join us J.D. types! Good decision! Congratulations!

    Is Drew dead? He still has not returned my phone call from this morning.

  16. I hope he hasn't died. At 5:00, he's supposed to leave the office and take a bus out here to where I work. He's going to take me to dinner and then we are going to go buy some things I need, like a new wallet, a new wristwatch and a new rain jacket for London. I'll wait here for him unless I receive a death notice.

  17. Don't worry, Joshie, Drew's still alive and kicking. I just got off the phone with him.