Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Don't Mess w/ a Nerd, Sucka

Some Saturday, I'm at the bookstore information desk, and a tall black muscular man in nice clothes comes up.
"Hey. I'm looking for two poems, like in a collection. I don't care what other stuff is in the book, I might like it too. But it has to have these two poems."

Uh-oh. I've had these requests before.
"Well, our computer doesn't list what's in each anthology, but I can try. I like poems."

Just then, we are interrupted by another clerk.
"Hey aren't you [John Doe] that plays [position] for the [pro team]?
"Yeah, I am. Hey, thanks."

He turns back to me, a pro player not to be diverted from the goal.
"The first poem is If-- by Rudyard Kipling, but I don't know the name of the second poem."

Uh-oh. I've had these requests before.
"Do you know anything about it? Maybe we can figure it out." That's a Hail Mary, you understand.

"Yes, I do." He straightens up. "Out of the night that covers me--"
"Oh, that's one of my favorites," I exclaimed. "It's Invictus by W.E. Henley."
"You know it??!!" he exclaims back. "It's like the best."

On either side of the Info desk, we step back and start chanting. In unison.

"Out of the Night that covers me
Black as the Pit from pole to pole
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

Our voices get louder. People start edging away.

"In the fell clutch of Circumstance.
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of Chance
My head is bloody but unbowed.

Beneath this path of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the Shade
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid."

Our fists come up, each of us, at the same time. By then, Info Desk has evacuated. We're triumphant, invincible, our voices ringing out--

"It matters not how straight the gate
How charged with punishment the scroll
I am the Master of my Fate
I am the Captain of my Soul."

We grin at each other. He relaxes. "Yeah, that one. Do you have a book like that?"
"We can check tables of contents," I said. "Let's just go look in the stacks."

So this post is for SlamDunk. He's written two great blog posts on extraordinary football players, here and here.


The Observer said...

Ann T

That is awesome! I can see it in my mind's eye...

And we forget/don't realize how much bigger pro football players are then us mere mortals. I see a small woman (doesn't matter if you are black or white) and a big black man reciting poetry together--a wonder!

The Observer

Capt. Schmoe said...

Fate brought the man with the question and the woman with the answer together. Of all of the bookstores and all of the booksellers, who could help him with his problem? 'Twas you, 'twas fate.

Ann T. said...

Dear T.O. and Capt. Schmoe,

It was a wonder!
It was Kismet!
It was Casablanca--never thought of that before! Thanks Captain!

Ann T.

Slamdunk said...

Ha, now that is a thumbs-up Ann T--thanks for the kind words.

I hope you at least got an autographed photo out of the encounter. As a child, I remember living in the DC area and mom took us to stand in an endless line with a crowd of groupies to get a star NFL quarterback's autograph.

I still have the photo and signature around here somewhere.

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
Oh, I wish I had. I've been wondering if it was your guy from the XX team and I didn't even know it. It certainly fits what he had to overcome, huh?

Glad you saw the dedication,
I meant it!
Ann T.