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  • Sean Smith

'I Got Lightning'


As a journalist, you always value that quote which livens up the story, especially if the source and/or content is unexpected. I once did a profile of a woman running for a major public office, and when I interviewed her husband, he told me that he thought she was crazy for doing so -- quite a change from the usual supportive-spouse angle. In fact, he subsequently explained (read "walked back") his remark to another newspaper that had picked up on the story.

So, here's a story, perhaps not quite as compelling as one involving our electoral process but with its own "money" quote.

This past weekend, I went to shoot baskets at a park near where I live. Not that I was ever especially good at it, but I really suck at basketball now: I haven't practiced with any regularity since, oh, the turn of the (21st) century, and thanks in particular to my woebegone knees I have little or no lift to my jump shots.

On this afternoon, I'd only just started working out when a 7-yr-old kid -- Jeremy -- playing with his brothers at the other end of the court asked me if I was an "expert" in dunking. Um, obviously not. But I was at least tall and relatively strong enough to hold him up to where he could grab the bottom of the net, which for him was a moment of triumph. In this spirit of accomplishment, Jeremy challenged me to a game of one-on-one -- or "1v1," as I'm given to understand it's called these days.

I'll end whatever narrative suspense there might be and simply state that Jeremy beat me, 20-9. I could point out that he had some extremely liberal interpretation of certain rules, especially those related to dribbling, but the fact is, he hit more of his open jumpers than I did.

We also engaged in a bit of spirited but friendly trash-talking, in the course of which he began referring to me as "old man." After I'd made a basket to cut the deficit to 8-3 -- or maybe it was 9-4, or 11-5, hell, I don't remember -- I told him that, even though I was old, I still had the fire within me.

"You may have fire, old man," Jeremy replied, "but I got lightning."

I swear I'm not making this up -- anymore than I made up the candidate's husband saying he thought she was crazy to seek office.

I should add that, when I left soon thereafter, Jeremy thanked me for a good game and wished me well. Needless to say, I responded in kind.




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