We're moving to a new house next week. So I went down to the basement today to figure out what to pack and what to get rid of. Near a shelf of old books and CD's, I had an unexpected encounter with my Greg Oden Bobblehead doll. It was awkward, to say the least.
I'd forgotten he was even down there, honestly. I'd stashed him after the celebration in Pioneer Square following the 2007 Draft- the golden days before everything fell apart. I was convinced he'd be worth something someday.
Needless to say, a lot of stuff has happened since then, bad stuff- catastrophes this miniature figurine was completely unaware of. His eyes gleamed with hope.
GOB: Hey, man! So good to see you!
Me: Oh. Hey.
I shifted my weight back and forth and averted my eyes. He stared and fondled his basketball nervously.
GOB: How long have I been down here?
Me: Three years.
GOB: Three years? (long pause) So what's going on with my career? Am I an All-Star yet?
Me: Uh...not exactly.
GOB: Why? What happened?
He wasn't going to let me off the hook.
Me: Well...damn. Shit. Fuck it, I'm just gonna tell you everything. You get hurt as soon as the season starts. You keep getting hurt after that. At one point, you get hurt getting off your couch. You gain a lot of weight. You grow cornrows. You have a permanent sad face. People compare you to Sam Bowie and Erick Dampier. It ain't pretty, man. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot- you text some chick your dong and it ends up on the internet. You have to publicly apologize. Not for the dick. Everyone gives you major props for the dick. But you apologize for the sexting. It's called sexting.
Me: Sexting. And Kevin Durant, the guy taken immediately behind you, turns into a superstar who leads the league in scoring every year. Your name becomes synonymous with FAIL.
At this point, my diminutive friend broke into tears, his head bobbling dejectedly.
Me: Hey, it's okay, little guy. It's not all bad. When you did play, you played pretty well. And someone will probably pay you a lot of money soon to try again. It might not be here in Portland, though. People are skittish about you here now.
Then he was suddenly angry and defensive.
GOB: Why'd you leave me down here so long?
Me: Honestly, you kinda bum me out. You remind me of what could have been. Look at you- all lean and hungry. You can barely move these days. It's really, really, really sad.
I struggled to find the right words, comforting words. He broke the silence instead.
GOB: What are you doing down here?
Me: We're moving. I'm trying to figure out what to throw away.
GOB: Are you gonna throw me away?
Me: I have a kid now. And you're bad news bears, man. It's like there's a curse on you, like the tiki idol from the Brady Bunch Hawaii episode. I don't want you around my daughter.
GOB: That's some fucked up shit.
Me: I know. I'm sorry.
Yet another cringe-inducing silence.
GOB: Congrats on your daughter.
GOB: Are you getting rid of me right now?
Me: No. We don't move for another week. I'm just seeing what's down here.
GOB: Cool. Thanks. Seriously. I appreciate the second chance.
Me: No, it's not really a second...
GOB: (interrupting) I won't let you down this time.
Me: (sigh) I know you won't, Greg. I know you won't.
I patted his little head like I would a puppy's. He lowered his gaze and stared at the floor.
Then I went back up the stairs. I could hear his tiny sobs and the click-click-click of his neck as I reached the top step and shut off the light.