This is maybe the oddest moment of my life but it is far from the most important. It is an indelible, insoluble small mystery shaped like a child’s brag. What I love about this story is that it offers no really sensible resolution, nor does it actually appear to mean anything in particular. It’s merely absurd and impossible but obvious to the naked eye, on an otherwise ordinary Spring day. This story takes place in Greenville, South Carolina.
I was at school, in gym class, playing baseball. I was 10 years old, I was small and blond – with big glasses – and notoriously bad at sports. I came up to bat dreading the usual failure and the indifferent contempt of my team-mates.
There’s the pitch, I hit the ball solidly. It sailed away from the baseball diamond all the way to the playground where it hit the middle of a HUGE tree as tall as a four-story building, and too big for me to put my arms around. The ball went THOK off the tree as I ran. As I neared first base there was a huge splintering CRACK and the tree collapsed cinematically across the playground which, thank god, was empty of kids.
The game was called on account of amazement.
I was actually carried on the kids’ shoulders into school… into the gobsmacked principal’s office for the coach to inform him. The next day the school had to hire guys with chainsaws to come and cut it up. It loudly took the entire school day. I sat through my classes listening to the chainsaws singing of my glory. As we left that day (and forever after) the carved up parts of my tree were stacked in a huge pile at the far edge of the playground like the bones of Goliath.
It was an enigma that came to visit me in front of everyone like a dazzling celebrity giving me in particular finger guns and a grinning wink. There you go, kid.