life as understood

by jeff carr, master of the arts, -------------------------------------------------------------------------- presumably from a couch


the day my childhood hero called me a dumb-a**

courtesy of Jeff |

This was yesterday during maybe hour four of my epic read-athon just to keep up in class. After the history book, I had decided to shed my outer shirt and settle into the couch for a long winter's 140 pages of War and Peace when the phone rang. It was Rob.

"I got you a present," he said. My first reaction was one of mild self-loathing, because Rob is the sort of thoughtful friend who gives presents for no reason. I, on the other hand, am the sort of friend who forgot his birthday last week, and already felt bad about not calling and saying hi. Hopefully, I thought, he's joking.

Rob said he wanted to surprise me, but he couldn't wait. Jeff Hornacek, he said, drawing the name out for effect, came into the campus gym where Rob works, to hold some sort of one-day basketball camp. I instinctively rose up from the couch, walked to the kitchen, and looked down at a recent frivolous purchase of mine--yet another Utah Jazz t-shirt, this one faded green, with the classic old logo emblazoned across my chest. Hornacek wore that same logo on his chest when I was eight through fifteen years old. Notably, he wore it on November 23, 1994, when he went 8 for 8 from behind the arc against the Sonics, and I made shots from across the room as I listened on the basement radio. I remember that night specifically. Later, I modeled my own amateurish game after his.

"Do you like Jeff Hornacek?" Rob asked, knowing only of my allegiance to the team itself. I told him that Hornacek's jersey number, which now hangs high in the rafters, makes up the only two numerals in my internet password--the password I use for everything. It's not a coincidence. As an idol, Stockton reigned over my early childhood, but when we picked up Horny in the most lopsided trade in NBA history, my heart found room for him and his quick release jumper right away.

Apparently, being the good friend that he is, Rob chased down the former All-Star as he was leaving the gym. He said he had a friend who was a huge fan and who just got straight A's at Stanford. Rob explained that he strategically threw that part in as sort of an extra hook, which evidently worked. Mr. Hornacek turned and said something to the effect of "oh, a real dumb-a**." He was being ironic, I assumed from context. Then he signed a T-shirt with a personal message for me. Rob's sending it in the mail today or tomorrow.

After hearing a story of such personal import and bidding farewell to my dear friend, my reading went extra slow for a while. Mostly, I was wired from my vicarious brush with minor fame, but after a while I became distracted by more fundamental questions. What if Jeff Hornacek was right? In the few seconds he thought about me (ME!), I fear he may have exposed me in the sort of shocking, direct way that only a personal hero can. Here I am, like a fool, slaving over the New Testament in Old Church Slavic, a dead language, when all I really had to do was work more on my free throws and get open on the left wing.

Stanford may not have been enough, but mark my words: someday, Jeff Hornacek, somehow, I will make you proud.