I was sprawled on a deck in the sun recently when a child said how come you don’t have any hair on your ankles if there’s all that hair on your legs and feet and even toes?? And I explained that I used to be a total fanatic basketball player who played two to four hours a day from age eight until I was Christ’s age, and then my back busted, so that was that, but I had taped my ankles so tightly so carefully so methodically with such meticulous obsessive attention for so many years that long ago the hair had been yanked out when I peeled off the tapes after games and practices; and while the girl, either bored or more probably thinking I was a raving loony, wandered off to commit small crime, I sat there on the deck in the sun remembering many many hundreds of hours taping my ankles just right so that they wouldn’t buckle and lurch and splay so that I could sprint and leap and spin with a touch more abandon, just a little; and for the first time in my life I was happy I would never have hair on my ankles again, for that meant I could never forget the game that gave me thousands of joyous minutes. By my count I spent four years of my life inside basketball, and the sweet Lord alone knows I would have tripled that, if I could. Not in this life, any more; but maybe the next….
Brian Doyle is the author of many books, among them the sprawling Oregon novel Mink River.