Imagine my surprise when, after writing two columns on LeBron James on Friday morning I walked into my childhood home that evening, which I thought was empty, and was confronted with my 17-year-old self watching SportsCenter, LeBron news on repeat. (Please ignore space-time continuum problems.)
ME: Do you know who I am?
17-Y-O-Me: (looks me up and down) I have a guess.
ME: Okay, I can tell you do. Because, like, you’re me and we’re still pretty similar.
17-Y-O-Me: (makes show of playing with long hair) In some ways.
ME: I never would have said something like that.
17-Y-O-Me: Apparently you would have.
ME: That either. I wasn’t that aggressive.
17-Y-O-Me: Maybe you should have been.
ME: So, uh… how about LeBron?
17-Y-O-Me: It’s crazy.
ME: He looks so douchey up there. (At the moment, the highlights from the Heat Beach Party are playing and Neil Everett or Linda Cohn is screaming something. Chris Bosh is acting like a wrestler.)
17-Y-O-Me: I don’t know. He looks like he’s having fun.
ME: Douchebags can have fun too.
17-Y-O-Me: What’s wrong with having fun?
ME: Um, nothing, I suppose. But if I was a Cleveland fan, I’d be upset by this.
17-Y-O-Me: But you’re not.
ME: Yeah, but I can empathize.
17-Y-O-Me: Yeah, it sucks. But so what?
ME: Well, I mean, I have a few good friends from Cleveland…
17-Y-O-Me: Oh. What does that matter?
ME: Are you saying empathy is bad?
17-Y-O-Me: (suddenly defensive; I notice this trait from my youth) No, that’s not what I’m saying.
ME: Then what are you saying?
17-Y-O-Me: Isn’t this just kind of cool?
ME: I don’t know. It just feels so yucky.
17-Y-O-Me: Sports are yucky all the time.
ME: I suppose that’s true…
17-Y-O-Me: No really, sports are yucky all the time. Who gives a crap? They’re only sports.
ME: Funny that you say that when you’ve spent your entire life trying to learn everything possible about them.
17-Y-O-Me: (mimics entire sentence in play voice, then turns beet red in embarrassment)
ME: (ignoring it) You know what sucks for us?
ME: All that memorization we did—who played what position for what team when, all the records and stuff—anyone can get all that off their phone now. Everyone’s a sports expert. It’s really hard to make a name for yourself.
17-Y-O-Me: We probably should have been a lawyer.
(We look straight at each other like: No way.)
ME: You know what you need? Some financial advice.
17-Y-O-Me: I make $15 an hour at Brickman’s at the moment. I’m doing just fine.
ME: I mean long-term, numbnuts.
17-Y-O-Me: Numbnuts. Real original. What are you, from Jersey?
(I pounce on the couch in a rage and we start fighting for about 30 seconds before we simultaneously yell “Glass table!” to remind each other that we risk breaking it, and we stop)
17-Y-O-Me: (sarcastically) Yeah, you’ve changed.
ME: You mean I’m stronger?
17-Y-O-Me: (turns red, doesn’t want to admit it) Whatever.
17-Y-O-Me: (suddenly) Can you buy me beer?
ME: You don’t even know what you’re doing with that stuff.
17-Y-O-Me: Oh, and you do.
ME: You DICK! (start fighting again)
17-Y-O-Me: Glass table!
(I keep fighting, he pushes me off)
17-Y-O-Me: You know, it’s almost like you come back here to just to fight me. I mean look at you! You’re worse than I am. I’m perfectly calm, and by the time you leave you’re sitting on the couch just like me, watching ESPN over and over. It’s almost like you feel like you can’t do that in the city, when you totally can. Not my fault you can’t remember that the good things in life are simple. We island folk have it good.
ME: “We island folk.” You pretentious fuck.
17-Y-O-Me: Whatever. It’s true.
ME: Hey dickhead, I have news for you.
17-Y-O-Me: Oh yeah, what?
ME: I’ve had sex.