Everyone is waxing poetic on Derek Jeter's finale at Yankee stadium and his career as a whole. There are many who can do that better than I. What I'd like to share are a couple of things that stuck out to me. One was an extremely tense and tight playoff game several years against the dreaded Beantown bastards. I was sitting on the couch in agony. "We've got to beat those guys! Anyone but Boston!" It was late in the game and because of the situation, who we were playing and the long rivalry between the two clubs, each moment was amplified and intensified.
But I'm not going to tell you about some great play Jeter made to save or win the game. Instead, I saw something even more amazing: a man smiling and having fun, competing with all his might yet unpossessed. Here was a guy at the height of his sport in the most storied rivalry of all time playing like he's a little kid, on his own terms. I leaned back with an appreciative "Damn!" and realized, yes, it just doesn't get any better than this. Enjoy the moment.
The other was reading about the Captain in that Yankee clubhouse. "You ever going to play for us?" said Jeter playfully to a highly paid, notoriously injured player. In that one question he summed up the frustration of millions of fans. Sure, Jeter never threw anyone under the bus in public but he fostered an atmosphere of winning behind the scenes, letting his intentions be known he was going to do whatever it takes to win. Aren't you? And make no mistake about it, no matter how playfully spoken there was an edge to Jeter's questioning. No one wanted to be outed for not giving a hundred percent.
All the rest of the great moments you can see on ESPN. Tonight was his last game at Yankee stadium. I didn't want to watch because I didn't want to go through the trauma. Watching Jeter's face twitch in the ninth trying to keep from crying on the field is something I'll never forget. Jeter lived the fantasy baseball life and one always expected a fantasy ending. I couldn't quite picture what that would be here. After the Yankees got an out with a three run lead I thought about maybe a patented Jeter throw to start a double play and end the game. Then the Orioles hit two home runs, knocking in three and tying the game. Sonofabitch!
"That's baseball..." I said out loud. The game is always bigger than any one player. Sure Jete-Man would be third up in the bottom of the ninth and the idea he'd hit a walk off RBI to end the game seemed too storybook even for him. So, that's exactly what happened! For Jeter, it was the perfect ending because it kept him focused on winning the game until the final moment, otherwise he'd have "ended up in tears." Just magical.
I stayed for the post-game and the hugs and the quotes and salutes. Everyone just wanted to linger. Derek Jeter's career is something that will come to be more appreciated over time. Appreciate the prophet in your hometown in his time! How many of us have seen the fulfillment of our childhood dreams living a billion to one shot? Makes ya think.
I was drained emotionally, too stoked to want to sleep, so I strolled down to the local Valero gas station to get some beer to celebrate this glorious ending. But right as I got to the edge of the parking lot of my apartments I saw flashing lights across the street; a fire truck and ambulance crowding the parking lot of those apartments. Something told me to go over there even though I knew only one person who lived there: Peterson.
"This is something I need to know about." Just didn't know why. Adrenaline started in my veins. I blamed it on the flashing lights. Then I saw Peterson's front door ajar. Yes, they were here for him. People outside confirmed my worst fears: suicide. It was not a surprise but certainly not expected either. In my crowd anyone can go at any time, having finally had our fill of what we can take. Peterson found his.
Medium height, dumpy, unwanted by women, I met him when he cooked for Denny's when I was dishwasher/bitch there. Stuck with all the craps jobs, having to wear my hair in a ponytail, this made the cooks seem on a pedestal from my vantage point. I never wanted the pressure or the grief they got but Peterson was just glad to see someone having any sort of respect for a Denny's cook. We weren't close but we got along well enough, no doubt.
We all have our crosses to bear and certainly for males to live under the thumb of females from cradle to grave is hard enough but for whatever karmic reason was made doubly hard for Peterson. He wasn't going to get girls in general, just the one meant for him. He lived in a world of unspoken porn, looking at everything from a sexual angle, even more so than most arrested adolescents that make up the male population. It bored into him, hollowed him, emptied him out. He once confided to me Natalie Portman's foot would save his life.
But his life wasn't saved. I guess he woke up one morning too many with nothing to live for. Why extend the agony? Tomorrow is never a new day, just a repeat of yesterday. Why spend a life sentence in the salt mines when you can cut it short? I knew money was thin. You read stories on occasion how costs are going up, fucking the working class. You hear their stories like you would those of lab rats, wondering at what point do they break. Well, now you fucking know.
Of course, if he'd had that one woman - or who knows any sort of lifeline at all - he'd been able to take his mind off the day-to-day hell of drudgery. To be of no worth to anyone, to have your life measured by how many Grand Slam breakfasts you got out the door, what kind of life is that? At some point you just get used up - but that never stops the world that takes without end or reason. Sonofabitch!
So twice in one evening I felt my eyes watering. Two lives gone in such opposite directions. Did each man fully deserve his fate? Who's to say? Stumbling along in the dark to the convenience store (with inconvenient prices) I was forced to reflect on my own life, asking just what is possible? The staggering gap between these two lives was more than I could take in. I mumbled without making eye contact with the cashier as I took my beer.
I've let the concept of "worthiness" invade my life with horrific consequences. In my heart, I know each life is equally important even if more people cried over a baseball death than an actual death that night. But I've let myself get sucked in to the idea of "deserves and not deserves". God damn. How do I stop that false morality? Why lie? We're all in this together. Your welfare is my welfare. Why not admit when I have something to offer?
So Natalie, if a short, loser slob comes up to you sometime asking to rub your feet for fifteen minutes, let him. It may or may not save his life but it'll at least add ten years to it. And those of us who never ask, judging ourselves conveniently unworthy (at an inconvenient price), will look on in shock and awe, fuming at having cheated ourselves. Life doesn't always go on.
Peterson mentioned this was his favorite song
when we heard it playing one time