Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Product of Silence: Conversation With a Trophy

Going to try A Product of Silence, an exercise created by Kristine, at Wait in The Van.
With thanks to Ninja Mom without whom I never would have found it.

Why are you doing this?
Doing what? Cleaning out my office?
I've been with you almost your entire life. 
I know.  As far back as I can remember, almost.
Then why?
Because it was a long time ago. It just seems like I shouldn't still have you on a shelf.
1969, yes. A long time ago. 42 years. 
I'm not a boy any more. 
No. You are a man. Your sons are men too. 
Does that make a difference?
That I'm a man? 
It makes a difference because...yes, I guess because I'm a man. I don't need to show you off. It was so long ago. It was just a dumb competition that nobody remembers any more. 
I remember. You remember.
It doesn't matter. No one else does.
Even if no one else remembers, it still matters.
It was a Punt, Pass, and Kick Competition. How could it still matter? It doesn't mean anything to anyone.
Doesn't it?
No. Who cares about Punt, Pass, and Kick? I'll bet they haven't done that for years, decades.
They still hold the competition every year. They started it the year you were born, and it still exists. It still matters.
But...not to anyone I know. 
Are you proud of winning First Place? Are you proud of winning me?
I am. But I was eight years old. It was luck.
Was it? Do you remember practicing and preparing for the competition?
A little.
No. A lot. Every day. Every day. Sometimes until well after dark. And do you remember why?
I wanted to be good. 
Yes, and more. Remember?
I don't know.
You do know.
My foot?
Your foot. Yes. You wanted the other kids to stop calling you names.
"Pigeon Toe". "Cripple". "McQuack".
It wasn't my fault. I hated those names. 
Of course not. A Club Foot is no one's fault.  It simply is there. 
What was I supposed to do? 
Exactly what you did. 
What? Cry about it?
Yes. But not just that. You did what you needed to do. You've done it your whole life. Don't you know?
You're going to tell me I overcame it. 
Of course. Because you did.
Not really. I didn't have a choice. What else could I have done?
So many things. You could have done nothing. You could have felt sorry for yourself and never tried to run faster, or get stronger. 
I couldn't have done nothing. That doesn't make sense.
You could have done nothing. But you didn't. And because of that, you earned the right to win First Place. You earned the right to do other things. You earned it all.
You're talking about Football.
Yes. And?
I don't know. What do you mean?
You do know. Go ahead.
The awards? The Coaches Award? 
Certainly the Coaches Award. And?
Scholarships? The Army? Flight School?
All of it. And much more since. Everything you've achieved, right up until now, and will achieve in the future.
Hard to believe.
It's true. You've always known it, but you never acknowledged it. 
I think I did. A little. I do now.
Glenn, everything you've accomplished, you've had to work harder for than most others. It started in 1969, on a drizzly June morning. You threw a football, kicked a football, and punted a football farther than all the other children.
More than one hundred other children, including children in age groups above yours. Because you practiced day and night. For weeks. 
And on that day, you came home with me. You wouldn't let go of me, except to show people how heavy I was, and see how shiny I was.
My name on the plaque. The shiny gold. 
The shiny gold that you've kept clean and bright for 42 years. No dust. Ever. 
Can you tell me it doesn't mean anything?
You learned that you needed to work very hard to succeed. Even if you couldn't understand or verbalize it. You knew instinctively that you would have to do whatever it took. And it would always take more for you. A club foot, that you were ashamed of, turned out to be the most important motivator in your life.
Was it? 
Is it?
What do you suppose?
It is. 
You've known it since you were eight years old, since the day you brought me home. You've known, so far down deep inside your mind that you never once admitted it or told anyone outright. 
You're right.
What will you do now? You understand that it doesn't matter whether or not I stay. Your motivation, your drive, your life and future don't depend on a gold trophy on a shelf in your house. Just on your remembering where it all comes from. 
I know. But now I want to tell people. 
I'm glad to hear that.  And you know you don't need me to do that. You can clean the shelf.
Yes, I understand that too. 
Maybe another day. 


  1. I'm just touched. I've welled up with tears and am simply touched by this conversation. It's tender and meaningful and so very well done. Thank you.

  2. This was absolutely amazing. Really clever and very poignant. I'm so glad you joined in :)

  3. OK I'm tossing the basketball trophy. I was only the coach. But I'm still keeping the championship baseball trophy from 1973. Maybe another day, indeed. Great post, and love the template too.

  4. Wow, this is great. You are amazing with dialog! So glad I stopped by :)

  5. Thanks, everyone. Out of the comfort zone, so a little nervous about trying it. I also did the cardinal sin of publishing the first draft, but I liked it, so went with it.

  6. Wow.

    I did Product of Silence this month too, which is how and why I found this post. I started reading assuming that it would be a humor piece because you're speaking to an inanimate object, and most blogs I read try to be humorous so I suppose it's what I'm used to. What I ended up reading here completely blew me away.

    I don't know what to say except that this is amazing.

  7. Glenn? This? Amazing. Out-of-the-box stellar creative nonfiction. I read every single word. I have 400 unread posts in my GoogleReader and I read every single word.

    Then I turned around and read it again.

  8. Nicki, that's the highest praise I could imagine. Thank you.

  9. I am so happy that you posted a link to this one. I don't know how I missed it. Love.