The following is a rewrite of a piece I posted a few days ago. I'm shipping it off to some editors
Bracketology? My Neighbor Couldn't Care Less
By Terrence McCarthy
My next door neighbor's a deer hunter. He loves to hunt deer. Deer hunting's an activity I have a hard time relating to. I can't imagine shooting a deer. Pete? He can't imagine filling out the brackets for the NCAA tournament. Couldn't care less about who's in the starting rotation for the Red Sox this year.
I see him in the yard. Say " Hi Pete. "
Pete says, " Hi. "
" Boston College is alive! They'll play Georgetown in the second round, " I say.
Pete stares at me like I've just spoken Latin.
" Manny had two hits yesterday. Shilling looked good! "
" I know, I know, " I say to Pete. " You couldn' t care less. "
Pete couldn't care more about deer hunting. And he loves to go out on his boat. Loves to navigate through the shallow waters of the salt ponds down here in South County. Destination: Block Island Sound. Pete loves fishing for those Blues and those Stripers.
I wouldn't be caught dead with a gun or a rod in my hand.
To each his own passion. Mine tend to be vicarious. I watch sports on TV. Pete gets up at an ungodly hour, goes out into the woods, and waits for hours for something that's probably not going to happen. Goes out in his boat and does the same thing. Tosses a line into the choppy cold water and waits.
I've read that deer hunters have much respect for their prey. One of the things they respect is a deer's super keen senses. How the animal focuses on what might happen in the next few minutes. Deer couldn't care less about what happened in the last few minutes. That's already happened. They survived that. What they want more than anything to do is survive the next few minutes, so that's what they think about.
What's that sound? What's that smell? What's that over there? Which path should I take? How lightly should I tread? What do I need to do to survive - the next few minutes?
I know nothing about fish. Blue fish and stripers? I know nothing. But it's my guess they're like deer in a way.
How different we are from the deer and the fish. Most of us anyway. We are creatures of regret. We whine about what might have been. We carry our baggage, like carcasses on the hoods of our cars. Baggage that goes way back. Way further into the past than the past few minutes.
We go into therapy. We go into rehab. We talk and we talk and someone sits there looking bored, listening to us relive the past. The next few minutes? We're not focused on that, yet we expect to survive. We expect to survive.
We expect not to be shot. We expect not to be caught. We expect to survive, to get past that first round, into the second and third rounds. So many of us are dancing The Big Dance.
But not Pete. He's sitting still, out there in the blind. Out there on his boat. He's thinking about what might happen in the next few minutes. He might get a deer. He might land a keepable striper. What he's not thinking about is who won that Gonzaga game last night. Or how Shilling pitched against Cleveland. That's all water under the bridge. It happened, and there is nothing he can do about that.
What he's focused on is what happens next. He's like Beckett ( Not Josh, the starting pitcher for the Sox ).
Like Sam, he's waiting. And so am I.
To each his own Godot.
Terrence McCarthy is a writer who lives in South Kingstown, Rhode Island