I Gotta Basketball Jones

Way, way back in the day, when I was president of the Dade County Young Democrats, and Joe Kennedy was running for his first term, we held a fund-raiser for him down here. I decided to prep myself for the after event, a private dinner for the organizers and Joe, by calling my father. Daddy grew up in West Palm Beach and played basketball in the church league. His was the only Jewish team, and they held their own, he said. He also said that he’d played against those Kennedy boys, and I figured that this would give me something to talk about with our guest. My daddy, his daddy (Robert), our uncles, all dribbling in good natured, young male humor on the courts of Palm Beach. I thought.

I called my father and asked him to tell me everything… the name of the church they played for, the location and name of the courts, whether his team had ever beaten their team. He told me everything I asked. Except he became very reticent about the outcomes. I pressed.

“Come on, Daddy. Did you guys ever win?”

“They were tough competitors.”

“Oh. Did you even come close?”

“They were very tough competitors.”

“They smoked yer asses, huh?”

“Oh, all right. They cheated.”

“Great. Daddy, I don’t think that that is going to go over real well when I tell this story to Joe. Yeah, your family beat the crap out of my father’s team because your sainted father and his brothers cheated.”

“It was only Jack.”

“Oh, that’ll be even better. Your sainted uncle Jack cheated. Great. Thanks a lot, Pop.”

So. The cocktail party went off fine. The Kennedys breed, I can safely say, having been in their presence, for teeth and charisma. There is nothing like it. I can’t explain it. I’m not easily impressed with people, and particularly not impressed with people whose reputations precede them to such a degree, but damn. I’ve never felt anything like it before or since. And The Person Dressed in Black, back when she was at Conde Nast, once met John-John, and says the same thing. The charisma was a physical presence, and she is totally disdainful of the Kennedys and their mystique. But I digress.

I find myself at some point between the cocktails and dinner, alone at the hotel’s front desk with Joe. I begin to tell the story of how, when they were just lads, his father and uncles played basketball with my father and uncles. And then I get into the delicate matter of the punch line to my tale. I stutter to a halt, somewhere around the part where my father has just told me that the Kennedy boys were Very Tough competitors. I look up at Joe and say, you know, maybe I should just stop here. He tells me to continue. I do. I get to the part where Daddy said it was just Jack who cheated. Joe looks down at me and says, “That doesn’t sound right, kiddo.”

My stomach drops to my ankles. I break an immediate flop sweat, and he gives me a huge toothy grin, and says “Hell, they ALL cheated!” and roared with laughter.

I’m so sorry to hear of Teddy’s diagnosis. I send my prayers (such as they are) and best wishes to the family.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/21 at 10:36 AM in Random Crap

(0) Comments
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

<< Back to main