You know this player: it’s Chipper Jones, the shoe-in Hall-of-Famer who’s about to play the final regular season series of his career.
You also know this couch: it was in your parents’ basement when you were growing up. It stinks of something sticky, of Doritos, of sex. Or, in spite of the sticky puffed, the Doritos crumbled, the sex had upon it, it still smells of something older, from long before you.
The Couch was purchased by your grandparents, who worked a kind of work that, little did you know then (back when you were screwing indiscriminately with your Doritos-coated mouth), would not be available to you — your grandparents who strived toward completely different ideas of prosperity that people your age might strive toward now (prosperity being the furthest thing from your mind back when you were half-baked on the Couch, or prosperity being getting fully baked, which was inevitable).
Mayhap the Couch is still in your parents’ basement, and when you go home to visit, there It is, Its scents beckoning. You laze upon It, much like Chipper is doing in the above photo, and flip through your old issues of Sports Illustrated or Beckett Monthly, or rifle through your old baseball cards, now perpetually basement-damp — your old game programs, your old autographs…
You suspect now that your parents saved all of these things because they still hope that you, seeing these items again, will remember when they were new, a time when you still believed that it was possible to excel at all things that you took on — to excel at everything the way Chipper Jones did at baseball.
Sometime since then — several times since the first time you smoked on that couch — you have made peace with yourself, accepted that excellence was not for you, that a more subtle contentedness would do. You started taking friendships more seriously, and in turn your friendships have been more lasting, more fulfilling; similar things might be said about how you now approach sex, food, marijuana. You started blogging. You have found that you have a sense of humor that makes life more tolerable for you and for others. You have a son, of whom you are terrified in all the right ways.
And this picture reminds you that Chipper Jones, while he has been excellent at playing baseball, has not been excellent at all things. He has messed up. In many ways, he has had to accept (or will have to) that excellence is not for him, that he is a man in Georgia, not a plaque in Cooperstown.
He will, hopefully, look himself in the mirror, if he hasn’t already, and lovingly say to himself, “Fuck me.”
Pic of Chipper & The Couch comes from Andy Gray’s always awesome @si_vault Twitter feed.
Hire Robert J. Baumann to live-blog your next birthday party, family reunion, or corporate event. You will not want to forget it soon.