There’s a guy who works in my local supermarket. Small, hunched, about sixty-five years old, one tattoo and an ear ring. There’s no other word other than quirky I’m afraid. When scanning the bar codes, he appears to have the forced concentration and intensity of a man defusing a nuclear device to save a hapless nation.
Yes, he’s that meticulous. When the addition of the goods is complete, he punches the total button with such pride and tells you the price with such alacrity that you find yourself falling into a trance of fascination and intrigue with him. He’s absorbed and in flow, but in a manner that was forged from struggle and not privilege.
This is a man, like woman too, who clearly isn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier, yet uniquely makes it shine.
Finishing that last sentence, my mind conjured images of the PC brigade protesting at the audacity that I might actually permit myself to use a metaphor to rely the wanting nature of this individual to you. Be offended if you want, but if you deny that you don’t know people who are challenged by the Victorian manacle of education and construct of clever we still function by, then you are simply a liar.
We are all just somebodies to someone higher on the evolutionary chart.
This morning I went to the gym like I normally do after dropping my daughter off to tennis. As I staggered from the treadmill to the free weights I was stopped in my tracks. There in front of me was the Supermarket Man. Using the pulley to work his on triceps, he was dressed in grey shorts that came down to his shins and a black armless t-shirt that came down halfway into his thighs.
Quirky again? Yes, but displaying the same intensity of purpose I saw at the checkout. I watched, and then I saw something fascinating………
Every time he finished a modest set of weights, he would clench both fists, close his eyes and clearly mutter some kind of positive affirmation to himself. Again, he went to the weights, did his reps only to carry out the same mental ritual when he had finished.
Here was a man, clearly bereft by nature, succeeding in his own style, on his own terms, making others bestowed with greater potency seem lazy, unbothered and frankly uninteresting. He was squeezing a lime, yet producing an orange.
In the world of sport, the very best victories, you know, the ones that make the headlines and purge non sport’s fans to sit up and take notice, are born from the same journey of struggle that Supermarket Man endures:
Washed up Jack Nicklaus at 46.
Tiger 2008 – broken leg. Tiger 2019 – full resurrection.
Hogan – Car crash recovery.
James Buster Douglas knocking out Tyson.
Fleck win 1955 US Open.
Ali beating Foreman in Zaire
Faldo rear ending Norman in 1996
Liverpool beating Barcelona 4-0 in 2019
Hell, even Gary Kasparov beating IBM’s Deep blue at chess.
Because my coffee is getting cold, I’m going to cut to the chase.
Unless there’s a second coming, its highly likely that Brooks Koepka will win the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black today in what will be a totally unforgettable sporting event. Unforgettable. Why?
Because there is no hero, no struggle and a totally predictable winner.
In every gym there are weights that only the strong can lift and in golf there are yardages and designs that only the strong can overcome.
For Christ sake, roll back the fucking ball, standardize professional equipment and create strategy again because the second major of 2019 is likely to be about as compelling as watching Jaws 4 with the wife.
Sport is only compelling when there is struggle, when there is drama and when there is story. The combination of Bethpage Black and Brooks Koepka make me pray for that second coming.
Well done Rich Beem. Your Friday afternoon was compelling.